The air we breathe is often filled with toxic or irritating chemicals and pollutants known as volatile organic compounds, or VOCs – and you’re not necessarily safe from their effects just because you’re inside. In fact, staying inside without an effective air filtering system in place can put you at increased risk for health problems caused by poor indoor air quality (IAQ), especially if your office lacks one of nature’s most powerful air filters: plants. While there are many techniques to improve IAQ, the plants you use to decorate your office can also help clean and purify the air you breathe.
The Top 9 Air Purifying Indoor Plants
In the 1980s, scientists at NASA – motivated by the need to clean the air in space stations – conducted a Clean Air Study to identify the best air purifying indoor plants. Their final study advises that to optimally remove these toxins, one of these nine plants should be placed every 100 square feet of an office space or home.
Named for the shoots that sprout and bloom in all different directions, the spider plant is ideal for forgetful or first-time plant owners. Spider plants thrive in bright areas of the office that are not in direct sunlight, and you should let the soil dry between watering.
NASA’s Clean Air Study crowned the cheerful, flowering garden mum as the one of the best air purifying house plants. Mums are a popular potted plant found at many garden stores, and they have the added advantage of being able to thrive outside, too.
One of the smallest air purifying indoor plants on the list, the peace lily has excellent air-cleaning qualities for its size. It flowers throughout the summer months, filling a room with inviting aromas. Peace lilies prefer shady corners of the office, and the soil should be kept moist.
Weeping Fig or Ficus
If you’re looking for a larger plant that will last a long time, ficus trees can grow up to 10-feet tall indoors and live indoors for many, many years. Weeping figs are hardy plants that flourish in bright, indirect light and don’t like being moved around too much.
The snake plant is one of the toughest houseplants and nearly impossible to kill – which may explain its nickname, “mother-in-law’s tongue.” Snake plants like their fair share of sun and prefer dryer conditions, requiring only occasional watering.
Another excellent choice for an air purifying house plant is the aloe vera. Easy to care for, aloe vera also offers several benefits for the treatment of minor burns and skin irritations. Simply tear off a fleshy leaf from the plant and apply the liquid it contains directly to your skin to soothe dry, burned or itchy skin.
One of the best natural air filters for formaldehyde, the bamboo palm can grow impressively tall in a relatively short amount of time. Bamboo palms can stretch up to 12-feet tall, love indirect or filtered sunlight and should be watered when the soil starts to feel dry.
The Boston fern is another great air purifying indoor plant, and it requires high humidity, a cool environment and indirect sunlight to thrive. The potting mixture for Boston ferns often contains a high amount of peat moss, which you should saturate during watering and then allow to fully drain.
This species of plant, whose name translates to “female dragon,” comes in over 40 different varieties. The many choices let you find the perfect plant for practically any room. But, you should avoid this plant if you’re an animal lover – dracaena are toxic to dogs and cats.
Add some greenery from our list to your office today, and reap the benefits of cleaner air.
Make sure you follow all the best practices to maintain good IAQ by checking that all HVAC or ventilation systems are working properly, changing your air filters as often as the manufacturer recommends and maintaining a tidy, dirt- and dust-free home or office. If you are experiencing symptoms of poor IAQ or need help keeping up with your office cleaning, call the office health experts at ServiceMaster Clean®. Our experienced teams will customize our commercial cleaning services to your needs and budget so you can breathe easy and relax whenever you spend time at work.