Which Houseplants Should You Buy To Purify the Air?

The quick answer is: none of them. The truth is, houseplants do little to purify the air in a room. While popular home decor websites list a number of plants that promise to remove toxins and dangerous chemicals from the air, scientists say otherwise. A study published in the Journal of Exposure Science and Environmental Epidemiology concluded that while small houseplants do remove volatile organic compounds (VOCs), they remove them at such a slow rate that they can’t compete with the air exchange mechanisms in buildings. To reduce VOCs enough to impact air quality would require around 10 plants per square foot. Even in a small 500 sq. ft. apartment, that’s 5,000 plants. Indoor pollution can come from a number of sources, including cooking, chemical cleaners, and smoking. The most effective way to mitigate indoor air pollution is to remove the source. Don’t bother with air fresheners either, as all they do is make the room smell. So, if you’re weighing options like buying a $400 air cleaner or buying a $30 plant, the plant isn’t going to improve the air quality, period.