• Next to Nature

Improve the Air Quality in Your Home With House Plants

Updated: May 23

Where are all our plant lovin' peeps at? We're here to fill you in on yet another reason you need to buy more plants...as if you needed a reason right?! However, maybe this reason will save you the trouble of trying to explain to your roommate or significant other why there just happens to be a new plant on the shelf today. As beautiful and inviting as house plants can be, they actually happen to be exceptional natural air purifiers that can filter volatile organic compounds out of the air we breathe.

What Are Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)?

When you smell a fragrant rose, a new car, fresh paint, air fresheners, perfume, cleaning products, or even new clothes you are inhaling volatile organic compounds or VOCs. While VOCs can come from both natural or synthetic sources, inhaling harmful VOCs can be detrimental to your health depending on the chemical makeup and the extent of the exposure. A buildup of VOCs from products with harmful chemicals that are found throughout our homes creates a low level chemical soup that can cause what is sometimes called Building Related Illness or Sick Building Syndrome. Some of the most common VOCs that you will encounter in your home are:

  • Formaldehyde

  • Benzene

  • Xylene

  • Ammonia

  • Trichloroethylene (TCE)

VOCs in your home environment can cause a variety of health issues. Overexposure to formaldehyde for instance, which is used as a preservative in cosmetics, is in many building materials but is also emitted into the air through cigarette smoke can lead to irritation to your throat, mouth and nose, and even cancer. Benzene, which is common in many detergents and glues can cause headaches, drowsiness and irritation to your eyes. TCE, found in wood finishes, adhesives, and other consumer products affects the immune, reproductive and nervous system and can cause kidney cancer. High levels of ammonia in the air can be especially harmful for people who suffer from asthma, as it leads to breathing problems.

How Plants Can Help Us Breathe Cleaner Air

First, always remove the source of harmful VOCs as much as you are able. Pitch products with harmful ingredients and replace with safe products. Opening windows in your home once or twice a day to ventilate and let fresh air into your home has shown to be beneficial as well when it comes to your home's air quality. These steps can dramatically improve the air quality in your home but you can amplify that upgrade by adding houseplants to your interior design (or store, office, studio!) According to a NASA study indoor plants not only filter up to 90% of certain VOCs out of the air they also help solve the other significant pollutant in homes, excess carbon dioxide.

Decorate Your Home With Air Purifying Plants

To get the full benefits of your natural air purifiers, adding two plants per 100 square feet is a good rule of thumb. Plants instantly liven up any room regardless of its size and design. A touch of green will always improve a living space.


Fresh, clean oxygenated air is important for a good night’s sleep. Even if your bedroom is on the smaller side, you can still add greenery to it. Succulents like aloe vera are perfect additions to your sleeping oasis. They fit on window sills or in bookshelves and can filter formaldehyde from building materials out of the air. You can even attach an air plant to the ceiling in a cute macrame plant hanger that adds depth to your space and provides you with plenty of fresh air while you’re sleeping. Not to mention, these plants are very low maintenance, which some of us may need. Let's be honest, some of us love plants but don't necessarily have a green thumb.


Bathrooms can be tricky to decorate with plants. As long as you choose a plant that loves a humid environment, you should be able to reap the benefits of having a natural air purifier in this room. Snake plants are nearly impossible to kill and will most likely survive in a room where you forget to water your plants. For bathrooms with small windows or no natural light at all, peace lilies are amazing additions. This plant actually performed among the best in the NASA study, successfully removing large amounts of TCE, benzene and formaldehyde. Peace lilies thrive in a humid environment and don’t mind living in low light conditions. If you want to see your peace lily bloom, expose it to sunlight every once in a while!


Your living room is likely one of the biggest rooms in your home. If you want to fill an empty corner, a weeping fig or dragon tree are perfect decor elements. You can spruce your living space up by planting your new additions in different style and size planters that add an element of texture to your green corner. Both plants performed very well in the NASA study and will provide you with fresh air in your living space.


While herbs are the ultimate greenery to add to your kitchen, you can also decorate this room with plants that are better left uneaten. English ivy, as well as Chinese evergreen are pretty plants and amazing at filtering the air. In the NASA study, english ivy removed up to 90% of the benzene it was exposed to. The air in your kitchen can get quite dirty with all the smoke and grease that is emitted into the air when you cook, adding a few plants and regularly opening the windows can help reduce the VOC levels in the air.


In a space that requires your full attention, plants that require little are the perfect match. An Areca palm or spider plant will fit perfectly in your study room or work from home office. Besides providing you with fresh oxygen and clean air, plants have proven to boost our mood and reduce our stress level which should easily answer the question of whether you should add plants to your home office or not.

Plants are silent, green superheroes that deserve our gratitude and loving care for all they do and provide. The more plants the better is what we always say! So go on, buy that plant. You can blame us if you need to.

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