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Best Air Cleaning Plants For Your Home Office

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Suffering from stuffy office syndrome ?

Many things attribute to a stuffy office…dust, stale air, and that weird smell lingering in the background you can’t identify.  What is that ?

The problem:

Opening the window doesn’t always un-stuff the air, especially when it’s either 3 degrees or 90 degrees outside.

The solution:

In this post, I’m going to share with you the 8 best plants to “clean” the air in your home office.

Best because they’re easy to care for, can tolerate many environments, and clean the airIn fact, I have them in my office and scattered through my home as I write this.

Check them out:

Best plants to clean air in work space

NASA’s Air Cleaning Plants Study

I’ve know since elementary school that plants can “clean” the air through photosynthesis and all that.  Basic 4th grade science.

In fact, years ago NASA teamed up with the Associated Landscape Contractors of America (ALCA) and did research to find ways to clean the air in space stations.  What they found was that certain common plants have a way of removing volatile organic pollutants like benzene, formaldehyde, and trichloroethylene.

Now, I have no idea if those chemicals are floating around in my office but I do know that those new shelves I put up stink.  And with the windows closed all Winter, it gets kind of stuffy in here.

The study also tells us that one plant for every 100 square feet is recommended to clean the air in an area.

I have a small home office…maybe 100 square feet…with 3 cute little air-cleaning plants doing their job.  And even though I don’t have any way to measure the air quality in my office, my office doesn’t seem as stuffy.

Benefits Of Air Cleaning Plants

Besides the benefit of cleaning the air, houseplants are like a really good friend.  They let us vent, put up with our frustrations, and listen to us without passing judgement.

But they offer even more benefits to our everyday well-being, like these:

  • Plants soften-up the look of an area.  The foliage of plants add contrast to walls, giving interest and texture.  They can also act as a barrier or room separator.
  • They’re cost effective; much cheaper than an air filtration system.
  • They add humidity to the environment.  Moisture vapor is put back into the air, making it more comfortable to breathe and helping to relieve dry skin.
  • They filter out Carbon Dioxide, which can lead to fatigue and drowsiness.  Through the process of photosynthesis, plants reduce Carbon Dioxide and make us feel more awake and aware.
  • Plants are therapeutic.  In fact, a study conducted by Kansas State University tells us that patients in hospital rooms with plants and flowers had significantly more positive physiologic responses evidenced by lower systolic blood pressure, and lower ratings of pain, anxiety, and fatigue than patients in the control room.
  • Plants can increase mood and help us feel less stressed.  This 2010 study suggests that having indoor plants present enhances the reduction of acute stress. A number of studies have shown that occupants of various settings, including health-care settings, have been evaluates as being more positive after the introduction of indoor plants.

8 Easy Care Air Cleaning Plants

#1  Bamboo Palm, Parlor Palm (Chamaedorea seifrizii)


If you’re looking for a tropical vibe, this plant is a great care-free choice. It cleans a bunch of chemicals from the air, like those that cause that funky smell when you buy a new shower curtain liner or the by-smells of that inexpensive particle-board desk.

Bamboo Palms are supposedly not toxic to humans or animals, but I always err on the side of caution.

General care for Bamboo Palm plant

Soil: Bamboo Palms do well in basic, well-draining potting soil.

Light: Bright, indirect light like you would get in a East window.  If your office faces South or West, put your Bamboo Palm where it won’t have the sun beating down on it.  Lightweight curtains work good to filter the sun if you have no option but to put it near the window in a Southern or Western exposure.

Water: Bamboo Palms like moist – but not soggy – soil so water when the top 1/3 of the soil is dry.  Just stick your finger down along the edge of the pot into the soil about 1/3 of the way down.  If dry, it’s time to water.  This plant likes a little humidity so spritz with water a few days a week or place in bathroom while showering.

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#2  Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum)


Also known as Calla Lily, this resilient and forgiving plant can get up to 3 feet tall showing off its big leaves and pretty white flowers. All this plant needs is dappled sunlight and consistent moisture. According to a NASA study, this plant helps clean ammonia, formaldehyde, benzene and other nasty chemicals from the air.

plant alert: All parts of the Peace Lily have an irritating toxin that can be bothersome if eaten.

General care for Peace Lily plant

Soil: Well draining soil containing plenty of organic matter.

Light: No direct sun – the plant will dry-out and wilt…constantly.  Bright, filtered light is best like what you’d get in an Eastern facing window, or light filtered through lightweight curtains.

Water: Stick your finger in the soil to see if it’s dry.  If so, give plenty of water without making soil soggy.  Peace Lilies will wilt when thirsty and forgive you when watered. They also like to be misted once in a while.

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#3  Snake Plant (Sansevieria)


I’ve seen Snake Plants all over the place in Florida, just growing alongside buildings. In my Michigan home, however, I have to grow this plant inside. Which is fine, because it is a cool looking, easy plant that removes a ton of dust particles.  And it can be neglected for weeks at a time and still look healthy.

Funny fact: Snake Plant is also called Mother-In-Law’s Tongue.  Maybe that’s why I think this is a real winner of a plant for better air, ha ha.

Plant alert: Can be toxic to pets. At the end of this article are some suggestions on how you can still have plants in your workspace.

General care for Snake Plant

Soil: Loose, well-draining soil designated for cacti and succulents is best.

Light: Indirect to low light is preferred but will tolerate some direct sun.

Water: Snake Plants can tolerate drought, in fact, it’s suggested you let the plant dry out completely before watering.

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#4  Spider Plant (Chlorophytum comosum)

Air Cleaning Plant: Spider Plant

Take a look at my 35 year old Spider Plant. Isn’t she a beauty ? This one was given to me from my mother-in-law and it’s till thriving…and cleaning my air. Growing in a corner that gets morning sun, I love how easy it is to care for.

Spider Plants are not toxic and I consider them the best plants to purify air because they are so easy to care for.

One of the easiest plants to care for, Spider Plants don’t require too much attention.  When the little ‘spiders’ grow on the ends of the ‘branches’, you can either: curl the branch towards the soil and stick the bottom of the spider in the soil, or, snip the spider off the branch and stick in the soil.

General care for Spider Plant

Soil: Any well draining potting mix is fine as long as the plant is evenly moist…not too dry, not too wet.

Light: Spider Plants like bright light but not direct sunlight.  Hot, direct light will burn their leaves

Water: Keep the soil evenly moist but not soggy.  Too much water Water and the roots will rot, too little water and the leaf tips will turn brown.

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#5  Jade Plant (Crassula ovata)

Jade Plant is one of the best air cleaning plants available.

The hardest thing to figure out about Jade Plants is when to water. Which really isn’t hard at all…give it a drink when the top ½ inch of soil feels dry. A warm, sunny windowsill is a good home for this plant.

Jades are succulent plants, meaning they hold water in their leaves, and are very easy to take care of.  To keep plant bushy, you can snip off the branches just above a set of leaves

Because this waxy-leafed plant will collect a lot of dust, you should gently wipe the leaves with a damp paper towel every once in a while.

Plant alert: Can be toxic to pets. At the end of this article are some suggestions on how you can still have plants in your workspace.

General care for Jade plant

Soil: A soil designed for cacti and succulents is best because it will allow water to drain away from the roots quickly.

Light: At least 4 hours of direct sunlight is best; my Jade sits in an Eastern-facing window and does fine with the exception of slightly leggy branches.

Water: Because Jade plants hold water in their leaves, they don’t like to have soggy soil.  Water when the top inch of soil feels dry to the touch. Jades give us a water-need hint: its leaves will wrinkle or feel thin.

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#6  Aloe Vera (Aloe vera)

Aloe Vera Plants clean the air.

You know that Aloe Vera is a great remedy for burns, right ? Did you know they also help clean benzene and formaldehyde toxins out of the air? An all-around cool plant for better air in your work space, if I do say so myself.

Aloes can be vigorous spreaders, sending out little shoots from their roots, called pups, that can be easily pulled out of the soil and re-planted.

Plant alert: Can be toxic to pets. At the end of this article are some suggestions on how you can still have plants in your workspace.

General care for Aloe Vera plant

Soil: Aloes are a little picky when it comes to soil.  A cactus / succulent soil mix is perfect or you can make your own with 1:1 commercial potting soil and sand/gravel combination.

Light:  Aloes appreciate 6-8 hours of direct sun but will tolerate filtered light.  A South or West facing window is best.

Water: As far as I know, the only way to kill an Aloe Vera plant is to over-water it.  When the soil is dry throughout, water the plant deeply…but only when it is completely dry, like every few weeks or so.

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#7  Cornstalk or Mass Cane (Dracaena fragrans “Massangeana” )

best air-purifying houseplant: cornstalk plant

Sure resembles a cornstalk, doesn’t it ?

Some people even call it a Totem pole plant because of the how the stalk looks.

These big-leafed plants are great air purifiers, giving off clean oxygen through photosynthesis while cleaning the stank.

Plant alert: Can be toxic to pets. At the end of this article are some suggestions on how you can still have plants in your workspace.

General care for Cornstalk or Mass Cane plant

Soil: A potting soil with a lot of organic material is perfect for Cornstalk plants.

Light: Don’t put Cornstalk plants in direct sun as the foliage will scorch.  Filtered sun or part shade is best.

Water: Stick your finger in the soil – if it’s dry about 3-4 inches down, it’s time to water.  Don’t over water, though…the soil should never be soggy.  Cornstalks, as well as all Dracaens, tend to be sensitive to fluoridated water, making the leaves turn yellow and die back.

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#8 Devil’s Ivy or Pothos (Epipremnum aureum)

Pothos or Devil's Ivy plant

This little devil is actually an air purifying angel because, according to NASA’s study, it cleans out toxins like benzene, formaldehyde, xylene, and toluene.

The heart-shaped leaves grow along waxy branches, which can be left to grow long or cut short to form a bushier looking plant.

Plant alert: Can be toxic to pets. At the end of this article are some suggestions on how you can still have plants in your workspace.

General care for Devil’s Ivy or Pothos plant

Soil: An ordinary all-purpose potting mix is fine.

Light: Keep in a light area but not in direct sunlight.  TIP: the paler the leaf color, the more light the plant can tolerate.

Water: This plant is ideal for someone who’s lazy about watering; it can be grown in a jar of water ! But if you do want to plant it in soil, water when the top few inches are dry.  Over watering will make the leaves turn yellow and rot the shallow roots.

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What To Do If You Have Pets

I know, a lot of these plants are toxic to animals, but for the most part only if they ingest part of it. But let’s play it safe.

If you think your dog or cat will get into your plants, here are a few simple solutions:

  • Get several of the non-toxic plants and group them together. Bamboo Palms look great behind Spider Plants.
  • Put a few of one kind of the non-toxic plants in one corner, a few of another of the non-toxic plants in another corner. Displaying plants “en masse” fills empty space and looks pretty cool.
  • A windowsill or shelf is a good home for plants. Personally, I’ve never had a dog get up on these high plains. A cat, on the other hand…

Get a Plant…Clean The Air

I’ve always had plants in my work space – whether at my old “9-5” or in my home – and I can honestly say they do make a difference.

Not only did the air feel cleaner than other parts of the house, the overall atmosphere was brighter.

I encourage you to get a new plant today.  You’ll be happy you did.

Best air cleaning plants that also make you feel better.
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