We all spend time cleaning our houses. We wash, we dust, we vacuum - but what about the air we breathe? Unbeknowest to us, it can get pretty filthy as well. Indoor air is often cluttered with harmful airborne chemicals such as:

• formaldehyde (often found in plywood and particle board),
• benzene (furniture waxes, glues, paints, and detergents),
• trichloroethylene (paint strippers, adhesives, spot removers, and rug-cleaning fluids.),
• and carbon monoxide (occurs when gas, oil, kerosene, wood, or charcoal is burned)

Even in low concentrations, these chemicals can cause a variety of health problems. They can create what is called “The Sick Building Syndrome,” often found with new construction that is air-tight and filled with building materials that leach pollutants into the air.

How do you clean air? There are many air purifiers for sale, but often these are costly, noisy, and require continuous electricity. NASA, always on the lookout for new ways to scrub the air (remember the scenes in Apollo 13 when the air was getting so polluted the astronauts could barely think straight?) did a major study on this issue in the 80’s They came up with a list of common houseplants that turn out to be energetic little air scrubbers as well. Here’s the list:

1. Philodendron scandens `oxycardium', heartleaf philodendron
2. Philodendron domesticum, elephant ear philodendron
3. Dracaena fragrans `Massangeana', cornstalk dracaena
4. Hedera helix, English ivy
5. Chlorophytum comosum, spider plant
6. Dracaena deremensis `Janet Craig', Janet Craig dracaena
7. Dracaena deremensis `Warneckii', Warneck dracaena
8. Ficus benjamina, weeping fig
9. Epipiremnum aureum, golden pothos
10. Spathiphyllum `Mauna Loa', peace lily
11. Philodendron selloum, selloum philodendron
12. Aglaonema modestum, Chinese evergreen
13. Chamaedorea sefritzii, bamboo or reed palm
14. Sansevieria trifasciata, snake plant
15. Dracaena marginata , red-edged dracaena

Don’t worry if you don’t have a green thumb. Most of these require moderate light and can be grown easily. Even I, notorious killer of plants, have managed to hold onto a Peace Lily for over a year.

In general, one large plant per100 square feet of space is sufficient to clean the air in an average home. Put them in the rooms you spend the most amount of time in such as your bedroom, kitchen, family room and don’t forget the home office.

So next time Aunt Mary brings you a Dracena, don’t turn up your nose. Thank her profusely and then put in your house gratefully, knowing that that handy little plant is de-cluttering your air!

Author's Bio: 

Feeling overwhelmed by paper, clutter, and too much to do? Amy Gray, owner of Empty Your Nest Professional Organizing, can help you set up personalized organizing systems to create a productive and peaceful life. Go to emptyyournest.com and receive a free organizing workbook!