Detoxifying Your Home With Plants

Alexis Orlacchio

Thanks to off-gassing chemicals and lack of proper ventilation, the air inside your home can be up to five times more toxic than the air outside, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. One way to help counteract this air pollution is to incorporate plants, which detoxify the air through photosynthesis, into your indoor décor. “Plants are beautiful, biological air filters,” says Christa O’Leary, green living expert and author of Home in Harmony: Designing an Inspired Life. Keep reading to learn which plants you can use to filter out specific chemicals from the air:


Toxin: Ammonia

Recommended Plant(s): Lady Palm (Rhapis excelsa)


Toxin: Benzene

Recommended Plant(s):English ivy (Hedera helix), Madagascar dragon tree or red-edged dracaena (Dracaena marginata), Janet Craig (Dracaena deremensis), chrysanthemum, Gerbera daisy, aloe, spider plant, bamboo palm or reed palm (Chamaedorea seifrizii), snake plant or mother-in-law’s tongue (Sansevieria trifasciata or Sansevieria laurentii), golden pothos, wax begonia


Toxin: Carbon Monoxide

Recommended Plant(s): Spider Plant, golden pothos

Pothos plant


Toxin: Formaldehyde

Recommended Plant(s): Azalea, dieffenbachia, philodendron, spider plant, golden pothos, bamboo or reed palm (Chamaedorea seifrizii), corn plant, chrysanthemum, snake plant or mother-in-law’s tongue (Sansevieria trifasciata or Sansevieria laurentii), Madagascar dragon tree or red-edged dracaena (Dracena marginata), weeping fig (Ficus benjamina), English ivy (Hedera helix), Boston fern


Toxin: Toluene

Recommended Plant(s): Peace lily (Spathiphyllum), wax begonia


Toxin: Trichloroethylene (TCE)

Recommended Plant(s): Gerbera daisy, chrysanthemum, peace lily (Spathiphyllum), Warneckii (Dracaena deremensis), Madagascar dragon tree red-edged dracaena (Dracena marginata), weeping fig (Ficus benjamina), bamboo palm or reed palm (Chamaedorea seifrizii)


Toxin: Volatile organic compounds (VOCs)

Recommended Plant(s): Heart-leaf philodendron (Philodendron oxycardium)

Heart-leaf philodendron


Toxin: Xylene

Recommended Plant(s): Spider plant, Madagascar dragon tree or red-edged dracaena (Dracaena marginata), weeping fig (Ficus benjamina)


Toxin: Various

Recommended Plant(s): The Chinese evergreen (Aglaonema crispum var. deborah) is a “super plant” that removes a variety of contaminants from the air and clears more toxins as time and exposure increase.

Adapted from chart with permission from Home in Harmony: Designing an Inspired Life by Christa O’Leary (Hay House, 2014).

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