How Much Do House Plants Actually Purify The Air? Find Out Here!

May 7, 2021

Will Indoor Plants Purify The Air Inside My Home?

With air-borne pollution levels on the rise and indoor pollution becoming worse than the outside air of pollution, many of us are looking for ways to purify the air we breathe in. 

One way to purify indoor pollution is said to be by plants, however, although some plant type can help with a clean house, the per cent that these can clean the air is very little, and scientific study types which support this theory are outdated.

So, before you go and kit your floor space out with the "best air-filtering houseplant", it's a good idea to understand why house plants should not be relied on for cleaning the air, whether or not they truly benefit the air and other alternatives that can help with purification.

Do House Plants Purify The Air? 

The theory that a potted plant in your home can clean the air came from a NASA study centre back in the 1980s, they put a plant with leaf inside an airtight container and monitored how much VOCs it could absorb and remove from the air such as benzene and formaldehyde. 

Nowadays however with more recent studies, it is said that the ability of a plant to remove toxins from the air is limited, studies that show a plant can do this were conducted in a lab environment where the space was small, not an actual house, therefore the purifying effects of a normal-sized plant are not to be trusted. 

Experiments for plant purification that have been conducted since NASA to see if a common houseplant can clean the air show that they can absorb VOCs but at a very slow rate compared to the air exchange which is already going on inside buildings, therefore are not as effective.

Does A Higher Number Of House Plants Mean Cleaner Air?

Since house plants can help purify the air, but by very little and at a very slow rate, one might assume that having more plants will be able to clean the air faster, in fact, NASA suggested from their study that for every 100 square foot of floor space in a house, you should put one indoor size plant. 

Some purifying plants that have been suggested are - 

  • Spider Plant. 
  • Peace Lily. 
  • English Ivy. 
  • Chinese evergreen. 

It must be noted however that more plants will not make a difference to air quality unless you have a vast amount, as indoor plants will still have a minimal cleansing effect on the air.

What Benefits Can Plants Have On Air Quality & Our Home? 

Even though indoor plants might not make as big of a difference to air quality as we thought, they can still have a few other benefits when having them inside of our home which you might not have considered. 

We've listed a few of these benefits below. 

  • Better productivity - It is said that working with plants around can help with memory and concentration, therefore helping with workflow and productivity levels. 
  • Boost in healing - From studies of having plants in hospital rooms, it is said that can help patients heal after surgery, lowering blood pressure and reducing pain levels.
  • Deters illnesses - Dry coughs and other congested illnesses can happen if you live in a dry climate, and indoor plants can produce water in a stuffy dry house, making humidity levels better.
  • Positive mood - Indoor plants are linked to more positive and happy moods.
  • Better breathing - Plants are known to help us breathe by adding oxygen in the air and absorbing carbon dioxide, however it should be noted that they also do this in reverse at night time.

Although all these advantages of having indoor plants are true, it is only to a small extent in terms of how they impact our lifestyle and the air we breathe, however, this doesn't mean plants are not worth having in your home at all!

Other Alternatives For Purifying The Air 

If you have been disappointed to learn that your plant or the leaves on plant can't purify the air as much as you thought, there are some other more effective alternatives you can try inside of your indoor home to make the air in the house cleaner. 

We've put a list of some of the best alternatives to try below. 

  • Open the windows - Opening the windows is one of the most underestimated ways to clean the air inside of your home. This lets oxygen in and reduces humidity in the air that can cause mould and dust mites to thrive inside. 
  • Use an air purifier - Air purifiers can catch all the bad particles in the air and replace them with new fresh air, therefore, improving our air quality indoors.
  • Vacuum often - Vacuuming can get rid of dust and dust mites which make air quality poorer and can trigger allergies in people when inhaled.
  • Keep it smoke-free - You should avoid all kinds of smoke in your homes, whether that's excess candles, from your stove or cigarettes as these can pollute the air fast.
  • Avoid air fresheners - Air fresheners are full of synthetic chemicals which can have negative health effects when inhaled.
  • Don't use toxic paint - If you are moving into a new house or renovating a room, avoid using toxic paint and opt for ones with non-toxic ingredients instead.

Frequently Asked Questions About House Plants Purifying The Air 

Do plants take out oxygen at night? 

Photosynthesis happens to plants to keep them alive, they release oxygen during the day but do take it at night and release carbon dioxide instead.

How many plants would you need to clean the air entirely in a house? 

You would need ten to even 100 plants per square metre to clean a space effectively which is a huge amount and not attainable for most people.

Final Words 

Overall, house plants do have a great impact on air quality but only by a small amount, they cannot purify the air in large spaces and should not be relied on to remove pollutants from the air. 

Instead, we recommend trying out some other alternatives if you want to have purer air to breathe such as an air purifier which is scientifically known to filter out bad particles in the air, b

Kirsten Carter
Kirsten Carter is a freelance content writer who specialises in writing about travel, technology and health. When she's not traveling between her home of Tanzania and England, she writes for her blog Rightminded Travelling and features on a variety of different travel and technology sites.

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