Just about everything in your bedroom — furniture, paint, upholstery, cleaning products — can emit toxic chemicals. Add to that the fact that most bedrooms are poorly ventilated, and every sleeping quarters could use some type of air purification system.
If you’d rather not hear the groan of an air cleaner as you sleep, simply head to the nursery: Plants (and the dirt in which they sit) absorb many of those harmful particulates and produce oxygen, effectively acting as natural air filters.
With an assist from Joel Deuterman, horticulturist and General Manager of New Garden Nursery & Landscaping, here are nine plants that will keep you breathing easy in the bedroom.
Aloe (Aloe vera)
The innards of this spiny succulent soothes burns and speeds up healing of superficial wounds, but the plant itself is helpful for clean air.
“Aloe removes formaldehyde and benzene from the air,” explains Deuterman. And don’t be fooled — just because you don’t house embalmed corpses in your night chamber doesn’t mean there isn’t formaldehyde in the air, as the chemical is found in everything from carpets and upholstery to glues and paints.
Deuterman recommends bright light and dryness to keep your aloe plant healthy.
Spider Plant (Chlorophtum comosum)
Another plant that purges the air of formaldehyde and benzene, the Spider Plant also removes excess CO2. “They’re very easy to care for,” Deuterman says of the multi-limbed perennial. “They thrive in dim light, and like plenty of water.”
Snake Plant (Sansevieria trifasciata)
While its long, licker-like leaves earned it the nickname “mother-in-law’s tongue,” this plant won’t scold your life choices and tell your girlfriend she should’ve married that dentist. Rather, it’s one of the best ways to rid your room of formaldehyde.
It also combats trichloroethylene (found in cleaning products) and xylene (found in paint). The easy-to-care-for perennial can be kept in low or bright light, and thrives in dry environments.
Golden Pothos (Epipremnum aureum)
This attractively leafy plant is used as decoration in everywhere from offices to malls. As a houseplant, it can reach heights of 66 ft and, as Deuterman explains, “is great for filtering formaldehyde and CO2.” Also known as “devil’s ivy,” “hunter’s robe,” and “the money plant,” the bright-light vine wins the award for coolest nicknames.
Great for removing trichloroethylene and formaldehyde, this shrubby houseplant comes in more than 40 different species, featuring long, wide leaves. Deuterman says the plant will do well in low or bright light and is extremely easy to care for.
Be careful, though, pet owners: The plants are toxic to cats and dogs.
Weeping Fig (Ficus benjamina)
When cared for correctly, this plant lives for many years. “That care includes consistent light and water schedules,” says Deuterman, who notes that the Weeping Fig is sensitive to environmental changes. The upkeep is worth it, as a healthy one will rid your room of formaldehyde, benzene and trichloroethylene.
English Ivy (Hedra Helix)
This one’s kinda gross. “English Ivy removes fecal matter and formaldehyde from the air,” says Deuterman.
Why might there be fecal matter in the air, you ask? Well, if you have a bathroom near your bed, a 2015 study from the American Society for Microbiology found that more than 60 percent of toothbrushes tested positive for fecal matter.
Just set up your ivy and try not to think about it.
Bamboo Palm (Chamaedorea sefritzii)
These pet-friendly bedroom plants filter tons of air thanks to their size — anywhere from four to 12 feet high. They thrive in bright light, are easy to care for and are perfect for removing formaldehyde, benzene and trichloroethylene from your air.
Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum)
In addition to being hippie-friendly, the Peace Lily is one of the best plants for removing formaldehyde, benzene and trichloroethylene. And, just like a hippy, it’s easy to care for — simply give it plenty of water and low light.
And maybe play it a Bob Dylan album every now and then, too.