We love plants. I think that’s pretty apparent at this point. And recently, it seems as though more and more people are joining in on our love affair with all things green. A quick visit to Pinterest or Instagram will show that filling your home with indoor plants is definitely becoming a ‘thing.’ But, aside from the fact that cultivating your own indoor forest is trendy, indoor plants have health benefits as well.
During pregnancy I started to become hyper-aware of all the potentially harmful things around me. And the most worrisome was the air inside my home. Indoor air is significantly more polluted than outside air. Even in a place like NYC. That is a scary thought considering the amount of time spent in your home. You can cut down on Volatile Organic Compounds (also known as VOCs) by monitoring what you bring into your home. Avoiding harmful chemicals in household cleaners, body care products, paints, varnishes, and other things of that sort is helpful. But you’ll still need some assistance combating the VOCs given off by your furniture, electronics, rugs etc. The solution? Indoor plants and lots of them. I personally have 32 potted plants inside my tiny 600 sqft apartment. Which is probably why my partner (lovingly?) refers to me as a “crazy plant lady.”
So, here is a short list of plants that are considered to be highly effective at purifying air. And most of them are pretty easy to care for.
Bamboo Palm:
 – Good for extracting benzene, trichloroethylene and formaldehyde from the air.
 – Low light
Snake Plant:
 – Great for removing formaldehyde
 – Low light and humid conditions
Spider Plant:
– Removes benzene, formaldehyde and xylene from the air
– Low maintenance. (Great options for those lacking a green thumb.)
Golden Pothos:
– Great for removing formaldehyde
– Low light. Will stay green even with very little sunlight.
– Clears formaldehyde
– Bright light. Grows quickly.
Red-edged Dracaena:
– Good for removing xylene, trichloroethylene and formaldehyde
– Grows large
English Ivy:
– Removes formaldehyde and reduces air-born fecal matter. (Good option for the bathroom or near a changing table.)
– Low light
Chinese Evergreen:
– Good for removing formaldehyde. Removes more air pollutants as the plant matures
– Low light
Happy potting!
Author & Illustrations by Emily De Nicolais exclusively for ohdeardrea. To see more of Emily’s work, click HERE


  1. I just moved to a new apartment and my goal is to have lots of indoor plants! Forget about air purification (that's a big plus), I just love how they look and feel in a room. But any thoughts on how these plants are for nibbling cats and dogs?

  2. Love this post! I have difficulty finding plants for our home though, because it hardly gets any light (even indirect), and we have a cat, so I need plants that aren't poisonous, of which there aren't many. Hopefully these will give me a starting point!

  3. i would have a house full of greenery if i had things my way 😉 my main concern is finding non-toxic houseplants because i have a silly feline that will go to great lengths (including jumping up on furniture and counters when i leave) to eat my plants.

  4. I still have a tab open on my computer about the Rubber Tree/Plant that I was researching last night! Did you run into those on your search for great air purifiers? This is such a helpful list, I think I'm leaning towards a Snake Plant next!