Tag: nasa

Don’t we all want to breathe in clean, non-toxic air in our homes?

I doubt that anyone walks into their home and says “I don’t give an eff if I’m being slowly poisoned by toxins. Whatevs!”. My brother recently asked me “Why do you have so many houseplants, a year ago you had almost none”! Correct, because a year ago is when I got a wake up call…in the form of a hospital visit and two days worth of testing to determine why I was having troubles breathing. The results – Indoor air quality! The hardcore nerdy girl came out in me and I started reading anything I could get my hands on.


My kitchen window…packed to the max!

I had no idea how many toxins are present in our homes until I started doing my research. Did you know that toxins such as Formaldehyde, Benzene, Trichloroethylene, Ammonia, Xylene, and Toluene are found in almost every home in America? These Carcinogens and VOCs leach out of the plastic we use, our laundry detergents, the paint on our walls, particle board in our furniture…they’re everywhere! The good news is that while we may not be able to 100% eliminate the sources from our homes, we can do our part to clean the air and make our homes safer for our families and ourselves.

In 1989, NASA published the Clean Air Study, and part of this study was a scientific examination of certain houseplants in an effort to naturally clean the air in space stations. This is the report that I came across while researching how to cleanse the air in my home and I really took it to heart. As well as absorbing carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen, as all plants do, these plants also eliminate significant amounts of benzene, formaldehyde and trichloroethylene, and other plants focus on removal of specific chemicals.The most common and notable plants on the list are the following:

Aloe Vera


A sea of Aloe at my local succulent nursery

Aloe Vera cleans Benzene, which is commonly found in paint and certain chemical cleaners, and Formaldehyde from the air, and is my favorite plant! I use this plant to help with burns and sunburn, minor abrasions, and a slew of other skincare aids. I also use Aloe in smoothies and when I juice fruits and veggies. Bonus, it’s easy to grow and care for.

Rubber Plant


The Rubber Plant leans Formaldehyde from the air, and is a very attractive and easy to care for house plant. This houseplant is very tolerant of neglect, as noted in my last post, and can thrive in dim light and direct light alike. I love this plant for it’s beauty and it’s resiliency, because it’s definitely been through some shit…my kids have not been kind to this plant, let’s leave it at that. She’s still kicking though!

Peace Lily 


Disclaimer – my Peace Lily does NOT look this good.

So I’m told that shade and weekly watering are all this beauty really needs to thrive, but I’m calling BS. And I SO want this plant to thrive in my home because it tops NASA’s list for removing all three of the most common VOCs (volatile organic compounds) Formaldehyde, Benzene, and Trichloroethylene, and it can combat Toluene and Xylene. That’s all 5 bad news bears on the NASA list folks. This one is a MUST for the home, and I’m determined to bring my poor lily back to health!

Snake Plant


My pretty little Snake Plant cleaning my office air.

This plant has required an absolute minimum effort on my part for it to thrive and grow, God bless it for that! This bad boy cleans 4 of the 5 toxins from the list (excluding Ammonia) and is one of the best for removing Formaldehyde which can be found in products like toilet paper and tissue of all things! This plant also follows the opposite carbon dioxide to oxygen schedule in that it absorbs carbon dioxide and converts to oxygen at night rather than day, so having this plant in your room may boost oxygen intake while you sleep!

There are many more plants on this list, and I encourage you to look into which ones would work for your home and lifestyle! Adding houseplants to your home is such a no-brainer when it comes to ensuring cleaner air for you and your family to breathe.

How many times must I repeat the cycle?

Buy houseplants, grow houseplants, kill houseplants. Over and over! My friends and family come to my home and always give me love for my houseplants and and say “Wow you have a green thumb!”. No y’all…I kill almost as many as I grow. Fellow gardeners, who is with me on this? Sometimes it feels like I’ve done everything right, I’ve gotten the conditions perfect and my happy little plant is just growing away, and then I come home one day and BAM! Dead.


This poor plant died a long, slow death.


Every single houseplant in this photo is dead. 🙁

The hardest part about having houseplants is getting the water and sunlight ratios right for each plant. My house is so angular that the sunlight that does come in is very spotty in the rooms that I want plants in; my dining room, living room, and kitchen. This has meant doing lots of reading on which plants thrive in shade, semi-shade, or indirect sunlight. So far, I’ve managed to kill an awful lot of houseplants just by getting this information wrong. But hey, that’s how we learn, right? By making mistakes and not repeating them!


Snake Plant is looking good! And somehow, my succulent and cactus are doing good too! For now….

The easiest plant by far to keep alive and well in most conditions is the Pothos. This baby will thrive and grow in sun, shade, dry or wet, and will clean your air the entire time. It’s my go to house plant fo sho. The second one is the Snake Plant or Mother in Law Plant. This is another air-cleaning houseplant that you basically cannot kill…unless you’re a plant serial killer, in which case carry on. This plant will thrive in most lights and doesn’t require a ton of water which is great because when I travel for work, it’s basically the Sahara Desert at my house.


…and my husband does not water plants.

My last thriving success is my Rubber Plant! Did I mention how much I love air-cleaning houseplants? More about this in my next post. I’ve had my Rubber Plant for about a year now, and she’s just as pretty as the day I got her! These plants can grow pretty large if you let them, but my experience so far has been just fine.


Rubber Plant looking all green and pretty…despite my children!

Not mentioned above? The DOZENS of other houseplants that I’ve murdered in my home, may they rest in peace. To name a few, Boston Fern, Peace Lily, Maidenhair Fern, every orchid I’ve ever owned, and SO. MANY. SUCCULENTS! Given my love for Succulents, you can imagine how devastated I am when one of them dies. Tears!

Anywho, I hope this post gives some of you peace of mind when it comes to your supposed “brown thumb”. Keep on trying! If you’re diligent with taking care of your plants and making sure to learn about their optimal growing conditions then you can absolutely have houseplants. Take it from me, the girl who kills plants on the reg, if I can keep at least SOME plants alive and happy in my home, then so can you. I have faith!