11 Best Air Purifying Plants for Indoors (Low Light Bedroom, Bathroom)

Many chemicals are used as ingredients in products in our homes. Flooring material, electronics, and many other products emit toxic volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that pollute your indoor air. Air-purifying plants can help clean indoor air and remove toxins, smoke, and odors from your living areas, bathrooms, and bedrooms.

What plants can clean the air and remove toxins?

The best air-purifying plants include the spider plant, pothos (devil’s ivy), Chinese evergreen, snake plant, peace lily, bamboo palm, dracaena, Barberton daisy, and weeping fig.

best air purifying plants

I’m a master gardener and plant care expert, and in this article, I’ve listed the best air-cleaning houseplants with advice on safety for cats and dogs. I’ve also provided handy care tips so you’ll know if the plants can grow in low-light indoor settings such as bedrooms and bathrooms.

A NASA experiment by 3 scientists found that houseplants like the spider plant and Devil’s ivy could remove volatile compounds that pollute indoor air, such as xylenes, styrene, toluene, and trichloroethylene.

Best Air Purifying Plants for Indoor Spaces

I’ve listed below the best air-purifying plants recommended by NASA for growing indoors – living areas, kitchens, bathrooms, and bedrooms, with their light, water, humidity, and temperature requirements.

Here are the best air-purifying plants to grow indoors:

1. Spider Plant (Chlorophytum elatum)

Spider Plant Air Purifier
Spider plant

The NASA study found that the spider plant can remove up to 90% of harmful indoor air pollutants, such as formaldehyde, that potentially cause cancer.

The chlorophytum elatum variety of spider plant that was tested had a total leaf surface area of 2471 cm2. It removed up to 10378 micrograms of formaldehyde over 24 hours.

Plant nameSpider Plant (Chlorophytum elatum)
Toxins it removesFormaldehyde, xylene, and toluene.
Light requirementsBright indirect light.
Water + humidity50% humidity, water once a week.
Size2-3ft tall.
Pet safetySafe for dogs and cats

The spider plant is known as one of the best air filtration houseplants because of a large cumulative leaf surface area for cleaning the air, removing toxins like formaldehyde and benzene emitted by furniture polish, paint thinner, tobacco smoke, detergent aerosols, and air fresheners.

Spider plants are air filters that tolerate low light conditions but prefer bright indirect light, which makes them easy to grow in pots and hanging baskets in most indoor settings such as bedrooms, bathrooms, living areas, etc.

I recommend placing this air-cleaning plant in an office with a window or hanging it from the ceiling where it will get enough indirect sunlight.

Here are other benefits of spider plants:

  • Removes carbon monoxide, xylene, formaldehyde, and toluene.
  • Removes ozone
  • Increases humidity in the house
  • It is safe for cats and dogs

I often recommend the spider plant to pet owners, as it helps remove ammonia from the air. Pets can pee quite a lot in the house, so the ammonia odor is a nuisance.

2. Snake Plant (Sansevieria laurentii)

Snake plant air purifier

A mother-in-law’s tongue (snake plant) with a total leaf surface area of 3474 can remove up to 9727 micrograms of formaldehyde and other indoor toxins in 24 hours.

The snake plant can also remove CO, benzene, and toluene when grown indoors.

Plant nameSnake Plant (Sansevieria laurentii)
Toxins it removesBenzene, formaldehyde, toluene, xylene, and trichloroethylene.
Light requirementsMedium to bright indirect light.
Water + humidityWater once a week; 40% humidity.
Size1-4 feet tall.
Pet safetyMildly toxic to pets.

Snake plants tolerate direct sunlight to some extent, so you can grow them near east-facing windows where they will receive some direct sunlight.

However, the plant can tolerate low light despite its preference for bright indirect light.

  • I’ve successfully grown snake plants in my bedroom, living room, kitchen, and bathroom.
  • The plant can thrive in clay soil but prefers a well-draining potting mix.
  • Snake plants are safe for cats and dogs except when ingested in large amounts.

Snake plants are easy to grow and maintain as indoor plants and do not need much water to survive. Only water this air-purifying plant when the soil is dry. It is drought tolerant if watered sparingly.

The only problem with snake plants is that they are sensitive to extreme temperatures, so avoid placing them in your kitchen.

3. Devil’s Ivy (Epipremnum aureum)

Pothos - Devil's ivy cleans indoor air

Devil’s ivy (pothos) has been found to absorb toxins such as benzene, formaldehyde, and xylene from the surrounding environment through its heart-shaped foliage.

Golden pothos grows in a vine-like style and can be grown indoors in most settings with low light.

  • Devil’s Ivy grows best in moderate indoor light conditions, so place it in your living room or bedroom near a window to purify your indoor air.
  • Pot in well-drained soil with high organic matter content.
  • It does best when watered once weekly to keep the soil moist. Too much water can cause root rot in pothos.
Plant namePothos; devil’s ivy, (Epipremnum aureum)
Toxins it filtersBenzene, formaldehyde, toluene, and xylene.
Light requirementsBright indirect light.
Water + humidityWater 1-2 times per week; 40-50% humidity.
Size10 ft (trailing)
Pet safetyToxic to cats and dogs.

Note that Devil’s Ivy does not remove ammonia and trichloroethylene from indoor air. If your concern is to remove the ammonia odor produced by pet urine, go for spider plants instead.

Pet safety: Pothos is toxic to cats and can cause serious symptoms such as swelling, skin irritation, difficulty swallowing, and vomiting.

4. Dracaena

Dracaena fragrans

Dracaena fragrans is popular for its ability to remove formaldehyde and benzene from indoor air. There are many varieties, but the most common one is “Warneckii.” Warneckei dracaena reaches up to 5 feet tall and about 24 inches wide when potted indoors.

In the NASA air purification study, various species of dracaena were found to be among the best plants for cleaning indoor air naturally.

Here are the best varieties of dracaena for air purification:

  • Dracaena marginata
  • Dracaena deremensis “Warneckei”
  • Mass cane (Dracaena massangeana)
  • (Dracaena deremensis “Janet Craig”)

Various dracaena species can remove most toxins from indoor air except ammonia. I recommend Dracaena for households without pets.

Plant nameDracaena; (Dracaena trifasciata ‘Laurentii)
Toxins it filtersBenzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, toluene, and xylene.
Light requirementsBright indirect light.
WaterWater once per week.
Size4 to 10 ft tall.
Pet safetyToxic to pets – cats, dogs.

Dracaena plants are toxic to dogs and cats. However, I like the plant because of its relatively small size. It is better for small spaces than most indoor low-light trees, and can fit in most apartments.

You can grow dracaena in your bedroom or other indoor spaces if your square footage is limited.

To promote growth and keep it alive longer, provide dracaenas bright indirect light even though they can tolerate low light. In extremely low light, dracaena will have a slow growth rate.

Keep them on the dry side by watering once every seven days to make sure the soil remains moist – not too dry and not too wet.

5. Bamboo palm (Chamaedorea seifritzii)

Bamboo palm

Bamboo palms cleanse the air by removing formaldehyde, commonly found in many household cleaning products like bleach, detergents, fabric softeners, toilet cleaners, etc.

This plant can also remove benzene, toluene, and xylene from indoor air.

Plant nameBamboo palm (Chamaedorea seifritzii)
Toxins it filtersXylene, benzene, toluene, formaldehyde, and trichloroethylene.
Light requirementsBright indirect light.
WaterWater once per week.
Size4 to 12 ft tall.
Pet safetySafe for pets – cats, dogs.

Here’s why I recommend a bamboo palm as an air-purifying tree for your home:

  • It is a pet-safe air purifier (safe for dogs and cats).
  • An oxygen-purifying plant that removes most airborne toxins except ammonia.
  • It is easy to care for and can grow indoors.

Bamboo palms reach a height of 4 to 12 feet indoors but can be trimmed back often to ensure they don’t outgrow your indoor space.

I find bamboo palms suitable for small apartments that need refreshing and toxin elimination without the need for commercial air purifiers.

The tree is a slow grower, making it suitable for planting indoors in pots. With just occasional watering in pots with drainage holes, it can grow steadily without the need to prune too often. Overwatering palms can lead to root rot.

In terms of care, provide your bamboo palm with bright indirect light or a little direct sun exposure in the morning (no more than two hours), and moderate humidity levels of 40-80%. It prefers well draining soil. Otherwise, it will be susceptible to root rot and other palm tree diseases.

6. Peace lily (Spathiphyllum ‘Mauna Loa’)

Peace lily (spathyphyllum)

According to the NASA study, a peace lily with a foliage surface area of 7,960 cm2 removed 41,392 micrograms of benzene toxin from indoor air within 24 hours.

This statistic makes the Mauna Loa variety of peace lily one of the best air-filtering plants you can grow indoors for clean oxygen.

Peace lilies can also remove ammonia, formaldehyde, and xylene. The only downside is that it is not safe for cats and dogs.

However, a peace lily is easy to grow and care for – from planting to pruning – and produces beautiful white flowers.

Plant namePeace lily (Spathiphyllum ‘Mauna Loa’)
Toxins it filtersTrichloroethylene, xylene, ammonia, toluene, benzene, and formaldehyde.
Light requirementsBright indirect light.
WaterWater once per week.
Size1 to 4 ft tall.
Pet safetyNot safe for pets – cats, dogs.

Peace lilies are fairly small plants that can be grown in small spaces indoors. This makes them suitable for refreshing bedrooms, bathrooms (with ventilation and windows), and other living areas.

Peace lilies require bright indirect light, watering once a week when the soil dries out, an optimal temperature of 68 to 85 °F, and 50-60% humidity to thrive well.

If you grow them in low light conditions, peace lilies will not bloom.

7. Weeping fig (Ficus benjamina)

Weeping fig tree

Weeping figs grow 3-6ft tall indoors, which is why I categorize them as great for indoor air purification in homes with limited space.

Since these figs doesn’t require much light to grow, place closer to windows in rooms with low light such as bedrooms and bathrooms.

Plant nameWeeping fig (Ficus benjamina)
Toxins it filtersXylene, toluene, and formaldehyde.
Light requirementsBright indirect light.
WaterWater once per week.
Size3 to 6 ft tall.
Pet safetyNot safe for pets.

Pollutants and toxins weeping fig trees can remove from indoor air include formaldehyde, toluene, and xylene. These figs cannot detoxify your indoor air of ammonia pollution, benzene, and trichloroethylene.

  • Provide at least six or more hours of sunlight daily
  • Plant in well-draining soil in the pot
  • Water only when the top inch or two of the soil is dry
  • Grow the tree in a temperature ranging from 65 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit.

Ficus benjamina trees are easy to care for but can grow very bushy if well-fed. You’ll want to prune the tree now and then to prevent it from growing too big and occupying most of your indoor space.

8. Banana plant (Musa oriana)

Banana plant for air cleaning

Dwarf banana plants (Musa oriana) can be grown indoors because they are large-leafed, which means they have a big surface area for absorbing toxins and releasing refreshing clean oxygen for you to breathe.

They remove formaldehyde produced by most modern building materials when warmed or exposed to sunlight.

  • Water banana plants only when the soil feels a little dry.
  • Grow banana plants preferably near south-facing windows for bright indirect light.
Plant nameBanana plant (Musa oriana)
Toxins it filtersFormaldehyde.
Light requirementsBright indirect light.
Water1-2 times per week.
Size5 to 9 ft tall.
Pet safetySafe for pets.

The average size of these dwarf varieties ranges between 5 and 9 feet tall. Leaves can grow to about 2 feet wide or even longer at maturity, so they are great to grow indoors with some space in the corners or near windows.

9. Chinese Evergreen (Aglaonema modestum)

Chinese evergreen

The Chinese evergreen plants are best suited to grow in a bedroom or bathroom with low light conditions as they are small-sized with big leaves. Their surface area is large, so they release much oxygen into the atmosphere.

However, they do require moderate to high humidity for growth, which is why I like growing them in bathrooms. If the humidity in your house is low, you want to mist the Chinese evergreen plant frequently to keep it healthy and happy.

  • Light requirements: indirect sunlight (medium-low light)
  • Watering: once per week
  • Air purification: removes benzene and formaldehyde
  • Toxicity: Toxic to pets

The only downside is that this plant is slightly toxic to pets (cats and dogs), so you want to be careful not to place it indoors if you have pets in your house.

10. Aloe vera plant

Aloe vera air purifying succulent

Aloe vera is a common natural medicinal succulent that purifies indoor air. This succulent grows well in fairly low light conditions and has been shown to be effective at removing formaldehyde and benzene from the air – two of the most common toxins found indoors.

According to NASA, an aloe vera succulent with a total leaf surface area of about 713 cm2 can remove up to 1,555 micrograms of formaldehyde from indoor air in 24 hours.

  • Light requirement: about 6 hours of bright indirect light
  • Watering: once every 1-2 weeks
  • Size: 24-39 inches tall
  • Pet safety: Mildly toxic to pets

However, you cannot use aloe vera alone as an air-purifying plant, as it only removes formaldehyde and benzene toxins.

I recommend growing it alongside other air cleaners to remove bacteria, viruses, allergens, ammonia, and trichloroethylene.

11. Barberton daisy (Gerbera jamesonii)

Barberton daisy

The Barberton daisy is a popular perennial for brightening the home and providing an abundance of cheerful, showy blooms in any indoor space. Apart from their aesthetic appeal, Gerbera jamesonii plants are good at cleansing indoor air, removing toxins such as formaldehyde, benzene, and trichloroethylene.

Due to its bright light requirements (bright windows can work well), this plant’s versatility makes it perfect for bathrooms or bedrooms with large windows and doors.

Here are the general care requirements for Barberton daisies:

  • Light: Provide full sun
  • Water: 1-2 times per week to keep the soil moist
  • Humidity: 50-60%
  • Temperature: 55 – 75°F

Other air-cleansing plants you can grow indoors include rubber plants, flamingo lily, English ivy, parlor palm, lady palm, philodendrons, moth orchids, dumb canes, dwarf date palm, and the Kimberley queen fern.

Air Cleaning Plants Safe for Cats and Dogs

When choosing the best air-cleaning plants for your home,  you want to ensure they are safe for cats and dogs. It’s best not to have any dangerous plants in areas where dogs or cats walk and play to avoid the risk of plant poisoning.

Here’s a list of pet-safe air-purifying plants:

  • Boston fern
  • Bamboo palm
  • Prayer plant
  • Gerbera Daisy
  • Spider plant

Cats and dogs can easily chew on many houseplants and even drink from potted flowers. Cats even rub themselves against plants and their pots. These can be one of their sources of poisoning.

Signs of pet poisoning from toxic plant materials include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, swelling, irritation, shaking off balance, and drooling. If you see these symptoms, take your pet to a veterinarian immediately.

If you have pets such as dogs and cats in your house, avoid air-purifying plants that are unsafe for pets, including snake plants, aloe vera, jade plants, philodendrons, weeping fig, rubber plants, English ivy, and pothos.

How many plants do you need to purify indoor air?

Studies have shown that just a few plants can only filter a very small amount of toxins indoors. To achieve significant air purification using air-filtering plants, you need to have quite a large number of plants in your house.

You need approximately 93 air-purifying plants to significantly clean indoor air naturally. The more plants you have, the more harmful chemicals you can remove. The English ivy, gerbera daisy, and snake plants have the best surface area to air purification ratio, so grow as many of them as possible.

Average households exchange air about 5-6 times per hour. In 24 hours, the air in your house will have exchanged about 156 times, which is too fast for just a few plants to purify and supply enough clean air in the house.


Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *