Decorating & Furniture/air freshen


I have some smells in my house that I'm trying to get rid of naturally, and you mention natural air fresheners.  I'd like to use plants, but I've heard that if you have too many, the humidity in the house goes up to the point where you would get mold; which would worsen the situation. I believe these are non-organic smells, from carpeting to the smell from new furnace air filters.  Thank you.

Hi Tom,

when it comes to plants as air cleaners there are loads and loads to choose from. Any green or flowering plant does the job by capturing the molecules present in the air and releasing oxygen and water. But there are some plants more effective than others. All green plant use carbon dioxide and water to produce oxygen and sugar. That is what is called the photosynthesis. While doing that they also capture molecules present in our air, break down these molecules and use the compounds as nutrition. Research is performed in how the plants actually perform the trick. It is well known that they take use tiny openings in their leaves but it is also shown that roots and soil bacteria are important in removing trace levels of toxic vapours.

House plants are especially useful when it comes to remove formaldehyde, benzene and trichloroethylene from the air. They also reduce the number of particles plus they produce oxygen and keep the moisture at a pleasant level (moisture is usually much to low in our modern homes.)

It is not possible to say what plant is _the_ most efficient one to clean the air; it depends on what substances you want to remove. For removal of formaldehyde (which comes mainly from pressed wood) Philodendron, Spider Plant and Golden Pothos are especially good.

Gerbera, daisy and chrysanthemums are superior when it comes to removing benzene for the air. Other good performers are Dracaena Massangeana, Spathiphyllum, and Golden Pothos.

NASA has done some serious research about plants as natural air filters, for use in future space travels one may presume. In the initial NASA studies over a dozen varieties of common interior plants were placed in sealed, Plexiglas chambers. Formaldehyde was introduced. Within 24 hours, the plants - Philodendron, Spider Plant and Golden Pothos - removed 80% of the formaldehyde molecules from the chamber.

How much air a plant manages to clean depends on the condition of the plant as well as its size. At average one plant per 100 square foot is sufficient but you can never get to many plants. Experiments also show that you do not have to worry about the plants making the air to moist, they don't. Putting a few plants near your computer is a very good idea since computers tend to make the air very dry. Also putting some plants next to a newly bought bookshelf is a good idea. They are often made from pressed wood and releases formaldehyde into the air.

Best of luck!

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Linn Arvidsson


Do you want to know how you can green your every day life without giving up style or quality? I can help you with your questions. I will answer any questions you might have on how to make your home healthier and more ecologically sound. It may range from how houseplants can clean indoor air to natural materials in furniture and fabrics; from window sill gardening to natural air fresheners. I do not claim to have all the answers right away, but I do know where to find them.


Experience in the area
University degree in environmental issues. Eight years of professional experience as an environmental coordinator and adviser.

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