The indoor air we breathe on the daily can be laden with some pretty nasty stuff. From cold germs to dangerous black mold, living, working and/or playing in buildings with filthy ducts and fumes from industrial cleaning supplies can cause some serious misery — and not only for those suffering respiratory conditions such as asthma.

While people can, of course, pay a professional to clean the air ducts in their homes, they have much less control over the indoor air at their workplace. And even those who perform routine maintenance and utilize green cleaning supplies still can improve the quality of the air they breathe. How? One simple way to improve indoor air quality is by utilizing houseplants. Here are some of the best.

1. Philodendron

People who live in homes surrounded by tall trees or work in office cubicles yards from the nearest natural light source can turn to the humble philodendron to improve the air they breathe. In the wild, philodendron feels most at home under a tropical canopy, so although the plant can adapt to sunnier locations, it’s great for shadier areas.

Those who adore scented candles may unwittingly release chemicals such as benzene into the air. Philodendron plants can reduce levels of this chemical which can irritate nasal passageways. Philodendrons do contain calcium oxalate which is dangerous to house pets, so those with puppies and kitties can stick with trailing varieties hung well out of the reach of their furry friends.

2. Palms

When most people think of palm trees, they think of California and movie stars. But some types of palms make excellent houseplants, and they require relatively little upkeep, making them a great choice for those lacking a green thumb.

Two varieties to try are Araca, or butterfly palm and bamboo palm. Both varieties of palms thrive best in bright sunlight, so these larger potted plants make stunning ways to grace entryways.

 

3. Rubber Plant

Remember that song about the little old and trying to move a rubber tree plant? He was one smart bug if he was taking it home. Rubber plants are excellent tools for removing mold from the air, so those who live in damp environments, in particular, do well to add this plant to their decor.

Rubber tree plants require little watering — a gentle spritz with a spray bottle is all it takes to keep this plant happy. They like light, but not direct sunlight, so they make good office desk plants.

4. Ficus

Many types of ficus exist and this plant has long enjoyed a reputation of being easy to grow. All ficus remove chemical toxins such as benzene and formaldehyde from the air, but the alii form is particularly handy in this capacity. Ficus come in several sizes to suit almost any space.

 

5. Daisies and Chrysanthemums

People who sport suits to work and run them to the cleaners weekly do well to add a splash of sunny color to their decor by using daisies and chrysanthemums. These blooms which come in a rainbow of colors are particularly good at removing trichloroethylene, a chemical often found in dry cleaning residue.

6. Boston Fern

Those who reside in apartments where former tenants smoked indoors or in city areas with high smog levels benefit from hanging a few ferns up around their home or office. These plants, like other plants on this list, clean the air through a process of phytoremediation where toxins are removed into the soil. This variety of fern also does a superior job of removing formaldehyde from indoor air.

7. Snake Plant

Ever encounter difficulty sleeping due to allergies keeping you up sniffling and sneezing? Consider adding a snake plant or four to your bedroom. Snake plants do a particularly good job of absorbing carbon dioxide and releasing clean oxygen at night. Practice feng shui? Place snake plants in the southern, southeast and eastern corners of the room.

Healthier Breathing Through Plants

House plants add class and beauty to any decor, and as an added bonus, they can keep the air you breathe healthier as well. Remove dangerous chemicals, mold and other toxins from your indoor air today by taking a trip to the local nursery and adopting some potted friends!

 

Emily is a sustainability and eco-friendly living blogger. You can see her work on her blog, Conservation Folks, or follow her on Twitter.