air purifying plants

Air-Purifying Plants So Good, Nasa Used Them in the Space Station

Plus, they’ll make your home feel like a tropical paradise.

By: Noah Lehava

You have to admit, there is something sweet and crisp in the air of a home that’s filled to the brim with flora. It’s clean, chemical-free oxygen! And it’s the doing of all those lush, overgrown plants you’ve finally managed to keep alive. They’re pretty and functional—who knew? The Sill, New York’s plant oasis, did, which is why we asked one of their resident experts, Erin Marino, to give us the dirty details on the plants that do the best job at cleaning. Hint: all of them.

“When NASA needed a cheap, easy way to filter the air on space stations, they chose the most common houseplants at the time to test, explains Marino. “Reporters then wrote about the NASA study, but misinterpreted it as ‘these are the only plants that filter the air’ instead of ‘all plants filter the air, but these are the only plants NASA had the time and budget to test’! Here at The Sill, we encourage you to bring all different varieties of plants into your living spaces to improve air quality.”

Herein are six plants they love:


Snake Plant: “This no-fuss tropical plant has thin, upright leaves with irregular banding that resembles the skin of a reptile. Its adaptations for surviving drought make it a suitable plant choice for anyone, anywhere. Snake plants have been shown to filter benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, xylene, and toluene.”

Photo: Courtesy of The Sill

Pothos: “Nicknamed the ‘cubicle plant’ at our office, the Pothos is our go-to for brown-thumbed customers with less than ideal conditions. Like the similar-looking Philodendron, the Pothos’s trailing vines can grow to over 10 feet long. The Pothos has been shown to filter benzene, formaldehyde, xylene, and toluene.”

Photo: Courtesy of The Sill

Rubber Plant: “A popular houseplant, this variety of ficus has thick, upright stems with glossy, oversized leaves that can store water in case of drought. They prefer bright to moderate indirect light. Rubber Plants have been shown to filter formaldehyde.”

Photo: Courtesy of The Sill

ZZ Plant: “A ZZ plant is a spectacular choice for any low-light environment. They are extremely dry-tolerant and low-maintenance. In addition, the plant meaning of ZZ is prosperity and friendship, making it a gift for the plant lover in your life.”

Photo: Courtesy of The Sill

Bird’s Nest Fern: “The Bird’s Nest Fern is characterized by ripple-edged fronds that grow out of a nest-like crown. It makes for a lovely hanging plant indoors. They thrive in indirect light and a humid environment. Ferns have been shown to filter formaldehyde, xylene, and toluene.”

Photo: Courtesy of The Sill

Philodendron: “In the right indoor conditions, the Philodendron’s heart-shaped leaves and trailing vines can trail to over 10 feet long, making it the perfect plant for a high shelf. Did we mention it has a reputation of being one of the easiest houseplants to grow? Philodendrons have been shown to filter formaldehyde.”

Photo: Courtesy of The Sill