(Published Originally October 19, 2017)

Indoor air pollution is an increasing problem in homes and offices. According to the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS), poor indoor air quality can be a problem for many people and may cause symptoms including

  • Headaches
  • Dry eyes, nose, throat, and skin
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Shortness of breath
  • Sinus congestion
  • and more

Proper cleaning, maintenance, and ventilation are all great ways to improve and keep air quality at healthy levels. There are also little things you can do to increase home or office air quality, including purchasing air purifying plants. Allergy sufferers and those with asthma can especially benefit from purifying plants. Finding allergy relief at work can make a big difference and improve work satisfaction.

How Do Plants Purify The Air?

Before we get to our top 10 list, you might be wondering just how exactly plants make a difference and purify indoor air. Studies by various scientists, including studies done by NASA, show the difference that plants can make for indoor air quality.

Plants have the ability to absorb gasses through the pores on their leaves. We know about photosynthesis - plants taking in light and carbon dioxide for conversion into chemical energy to fuel their own growth.

However, we now know that plants take in more than just carbon dioxide. Plants can actually take in Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) and remove these harmful compounds from the air by absorbing them through their leaves and roots.

Top 10 Indoor Air Purifying Plants

Indoor plants not only add aesthetically to your office environment, they can actually help keep the air you breathe clean and pure! Common cleaning products, furniture and upholstery, and common synthetic building materials can all emit toxins and bacteria that build up in offices. Cleaning with non-toxic cleaning products and adding plants to your office can help purify the air! The plants on our list all help to remove harmful toxins that may cause unpleasant symptoms like those listed above.

If you don't naturally have a green thumb or have never cared for indoor plants, check out this how-to guide to keep your indoor plants happy and healthy!

1. Spider Plants

The spider plant, or Chlorophytum comosum, appears on many top indoor air purifying plant lists because of its efficiency and the fact that it is so easy to care for! It is also non-toxic, meaning if you choose to have spider plants in your office and home, you won't have to worry about potentially harming your children and pets.

Plant Care: Place in indirect sunlight and water 2-3 times weekly.

Toxins/Pollutants Removed: formaldehyde and xylene

2. Chrysanthemums

Chrysanthemums, or Chrysanthemum morifolium, are known as one of the best air purifying plants around. They do not require heavy maintenance and they look gorgeous as they flower. The only problem is, chrysanthemums only bloom for six weeks - and without the flower, they cannot purify the air. You can use them as a short-term purifying plant or buy more as needed.

Plant Care: Keep soil damp daily.

Toxins/Pollutants Removed:  formaldehyde, xylene, benzene, and ammonia

3. Gerbera Daisies


he Gerbera Daisy, or Gerbera jamesonii, is an absolutely gorgeous flower that comes in bright colours and will look beautiful on any desk! Gerberas have more than just looks though, they also filter out harmful toxins when they are in bloom. They require more maintenance than other plants and do not last as long. They may need to be replaced as often as twice a month.

Plant Care: Provide well-drained soil and lots of sunlight (they need six hours of direct sunlight each day!)

Toxins/Pollutants Removed: trichloroethylene and benzene

4. Bamboo

Bamboo, or Chamaedorea seifrizii, is a strong and sturdy plant that comes in lots of shapes and sizes! Aside from acting as an air filter, bamboo also releases moisture back into the air, helping with dry eyes, nose, throat, or skin - especially in the winter months!

Plant Care: Keep moist and mist every so often to prevent a spider mite infestation

Toxins/Pollutants Removed: carbon monoxide formaldehyde, xylene, benzene, chloroform (and more!)

5. Boston Ferns

Boston Ferns, or Nephrolepis exaltata, are plush green plants that have the ability to remove more formaldehyde than any other indoor plant! They look great potted or hanging from a high shelf, and can make a lovely addition to the whole office or a single cubicle or room. They are excellent at filtering air pollutants, but are not the easiest plant to take care of. Some commitment is required to keep the Boston Fern healthy and happy.

Plant Care: Feed weekly while growing, monthly during the winter. If your home or office is dry, you may have to mist your Boston Fern daily.

Toxins/Pollutants Removed: formaldehyde, xylene, and benzene

6. Dracaena

Dracaena plants give you many options - did you know that there are over 40 different kinds of Dracaena plants? That means it's easy to find the perfect one for you and your office as they come in many shapes, sizes, and colours. They remove a wide variety of pollutants and are very easy to care for - but be aware of adding too much water! Drowning this plant can easily kill it. If you have an office cat or want to bring your draceana home, it might be best to go with a different plant. The dracaena is toxic to cats and dogs and can cause a host of symptoms including vomiting.

Plant Care: Keep soil damp but do not over-water

Toxins/Pollutants Removed: formaldehyde, benzene, trichloroethylene, and xylene

7. Peace Lilies

A beautiful plant that has the ability to bloom indoors, the Peace Lily, or Spathiphyllum, has the ability to remove harmful toxins emitted by common cleaning products, making it the perfect office plant. It prefers lower light conditions, meaning you won't have to worry as much as plant placement if you don't have direct access to a window. However, like the dracaena, this plant is poisonous and can even harm children if ingested so it might not be the best for your home.

Plant Care: Moist, well-drained soil, provide sunlight but not too much.  

Toxins/Pollutants Removed: Some VOCs, formaldehyde, and benzene

8. Aloe vera

When you think of Aloe Vera, the first thing that may come to mind is "sun burns!" There are many claims about the healing properties of Aloe, but did you know that Aloe can also help purify your office air? They are cute plants that will look great sitting potted on your desk or shelf.

Plant Care: water but drain properly as they do not thrive in standing water

Toxins/Pollutants Removed: formaldehyde

9. Golden Pothos

If you do not have a green thumb or just don't have time to put a lot of effort into caring for your office plants. then a Golden Pothos, or Epipremnum aureum, might be the perfect plant for you! The Golden Pothos is hard to kill. It can handle being over-watered and can survive the neglect that may easily kill the other plants on this list. It is not as effective at removing formaldehyde as other air-purifying plants, however, so that is something you should take into consideration before purchasing.

Plant Care: Water lightly when the soil is dry

Toxins/Pollutants Removed: formaldehyde, xylene, benzene, toluene, carbon monoxide (and more!)

10. Rubber plants

Rubber plants, or Ficus elastic, are a great looking plant that require moderate care. The Rubber plant has interesting roots that grow upwards instead of downwards. The roots often become entangled in the plant, forming a unique and beautiful sight!

Plant Care: Prune leaves and occasionally wipe down, water to keep soil moist.

Toxins/Pollutants Removed: formaldehyde, carbon monoxide, trichloroethylene (and more!)

Ready For A Pollutant-Free Office?

Indoor plants are a great way to keep pollutants in check and help those suffering from poor air quality at work. However, office plants can only do so much! The best way to keep everyone in your office safe and healthy is by consistent cleaning.

At Kitchener Clean, we care about your office, your staff, and the environment. That's why all of our cleaning products are non-toxic to ensure the safety of your staff. Kitchener Clean always uses the highest quality EcoLogo or Green Seal certified products when possible in your office.

EcoLogo is North America’s largest, most respected environmental standard and certification mark. EcoLogo provides customers with assurance that the products and services bearing the logo meet stringent standards of environmental leadership. Using green, non-toxic cleaning products means that everyone in your office can breathe easy without worrying about harsh chemicals or allergic sensitivities.

"Kitchener Clean stands apart from other cleaning companies because
of the full service they offer. Not only are they professional and friendly,
they are also incredibly thorough."

-- Anne Marie, a Kitchener Clean customer