Houseplants don’t just add some green to a space, they can actually improve the quality of your indoor air. Just like trees process carbon dioxide and release oxygen in the outdoors, a wide variety of plants can clean your indoor air, making it smell fresher and actually be much, much healthier to breathe. Many plants can be as effective as air purifiers, and they’re definitely quieter and often require less maintenance.

Most plants naturally cleanse the air of not just carbon dioxide, but other toxins, ranging from dust to volatile organic compounds. Some plants are even known for helping to eliminate substances like formaldehyde and trichloroethylene.

How do plants do this? Just like humans breathe the air around them, plants absorb the air. Most plants do this to absorb carbon dioxide, which they use to create energy to survive and grow. As they “breathe” in this air through their leaves and roots, they absorb any other gasses that are in that air. Most plants will use or, at the very least, capture, dangerous substances, instead of releasing them back into the air.

But which houseplants are the most effective at improving your indoor air quality? Here’s a list of the five best:

1. Peace Lily – Not only is this one of the most beautiful evergreen plants you can put in your home, it’s also one of the best for removing VOCs from your air. This plant comes with two caveats, however: first, it needs a cool, dark place to live. The sun can actually burn its leaves. Second, this plant can be toxic to animals and humans alike, so if you have pets your young children, it should be placed far out of their reach.

2. Chrysanthemum – If you’re a fan of brightly colored flowers and you want to keep the air in your home cleaner, the chrysanthemum is the perfect addition to your rooms. It needs some attention (it needs to be watered a few times a week), but unlike the peace lily, loves plenty of sunlight. This plant will brighten up any room and clean the air!

3. English Ivy – This is a popular houseplant that is particularly adept at cleaning the air—it can even help to prevent mold growth in the rooms of your home. It is a climbing plant, but it otherwise needs very little maintenance. It’s often used as an alternative to grass, because of how easily and quickly it grows. A small indoor plant that can be routinely pruned is the easiest for most home owners to manage, and you’ll love how it makes your rooms smell fresher and sucks all sorts of VOCs and other toxins out of the air. Keep it in the sun and make sure it gets enough water!

4. Weeping Fig – Often called the ficus, this houseplant is one of the most popular in the United States. This plant can grow quite large, so make sure to set aside plenty of room for it! If you do, you’ll find that it is great at improving your home’s humidity levels and getting rid of harmful gasses in the air.

5. Daisies – If you like colorful blooms, you’ll love having a daisy plant in your home. They’ll need plenty of sun and water, but it withstands a wide variety of temperatures and is extremely effective at pulling formaldehyde, benzene, and even trichloroethylene out of the air. You can find them in a huge variety of colors, to match any room of your home!

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