It seems like everyone these days is looking for small (and big) ways to be healthy (me included). From drinking more water to cutting back on sugar, and exercising, we are taking steps to lead a healthier life.
A simple way to be healthier is to have indoor plants that clean air, especially in the bedrooms while we sleep. Regardless of anything else, we need oxygen…all the time…24/7 and the cleaner the air, the better for us.
The Air in my Home is Dirty?
Yes, very, very dirty. In fact, studies show that our home air is more toxic than the outside air. I know, shocking and somewhat unbelievable. I was with you until I did some research.
Let’s start with outside toxins and move our way in. It may seem obvious what outside toxins are, right?
Those produce the most. And, we can assume some of those get into our homes but are they the main culprits?
- Furniture (the material, paint/stain, glue)
- Flooring and carpet (same as above)
- Cleaning products (chemicals)
- Air cleaners (chemicals)
- Laundry detergent (chemicals)
- Heating and Cooling systems (dirt in the ducts)
Since I grossed you out and maybe frightened you a bit (sorry), I don’t want to leave you without some alternatives, let’s discuss ways, in general, to keep your air cleaner.
Cleaner Air, In General
- Open the windows and let the airflow through, especially if using cleaning products
- Store cleaning products (plus paints, stains, pesticides, and chemicals) away from your main living space
- Minimize moisture/humidity from humidifiers and shower condensation to prevent mold
The biggest thing you can do, in my opinion, is to stop using candles, air fresheners, perfumes, well, scented anything plus use a natural laundry detergent (unscented/fragrance-free usually means more chemicals were used to get rid of the chemical and other smells).
The number of chemicals in fragrances are unbelievable, so bad for our health! Here are some alternatives.
- Beeswax candles – all-natural, no toxic anything – these produce light/ambiance, not smell
- Essential Oils can be diffused for smell and as perfume
- Laundry Detergent that scores an A on EWG.org
Small things add up and make a difference.
Now, back to the air.
Succulents Can Help Clean My Air?
Totally! Plants, in general, are good for us physically, mentally, and emotionally and succulents provide an extra boost at night.
- Physically – Unlike other plants, succulents release oxygen at night. That means that while we are sleeping, fresh oxygen is being released to help us doze. Plants also release about 10% of the moisture in the air. By having more plants you have natural moisture which helps prevent dry skin and colds.
- Mentally – Brain capabilities including concentration and alertness improve with plants around. A University of Michigan study showed people working around plants had higher quality, accuracy, and up to a twenty percent higher memory retention of work over an environment without plants.
- Emotionally – Plants are calming and reduce stress.
- Kansas State University did a study with patients recovering from abdominal surgery and found “Patients with plants in their rooms had significantly fewer intakes of pain medication, more positive physiological responses (lower blood pressure and heart rate), less pain, anxiety, and fatigue, and better overall positive and higher satisfaction with their recovery rooms than their counterparts in the control group without plants in their rooms. An interesting note to this study—the majority of patients who had plants in their rooms reported that the plants were the most positive qualities of their rooms (93%), whereas patients without plants in their rooms said that watching television was the most favorable aspect of their rooms (91%)”.
This study is by far my favorite! Here are the highlights or click the link to read the entire study. If you want the really short version, skip to the last few sentences in this section.
- B.C. “Bill” Wolverton was an environmental scientist working with the U.S. military to clean up the environmental messes left by biological warfare centers. At a test center in Florida, he was heading a facility that discovered that swamp plants were actually eliminating Agent Orange.
- NASA began researching, developing, and designing sustainable living environments for long-term habitation of space.
- In 1973, NASA scientists identified 107 volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Synthetic materials, like those used to construct the BioHome (see picture above) give off low levels of chemicals. This effect, known as off-gassing, spreads the VOCs, such as formaldehyde, benzene, and trichloroethylene, all known irritants and potential carcinogens. When these chemicals are trapped without circulation, the inhabitants may become ill, as the air they breathe is not given the natural scrubbing by Earth’s complex ecosystem.
- Around the same time, builders began making houses and offices more energy efficient. One of the best ways to do this was to make the buildings as airtight as possible. While keeping temperature-controlled air in place, this approach reduced circulation. Combined with the modern use of synthetic materials, this contributed to what became known as Sick Building Syndrome, where toxins found in synthetic materials become concentrated inside sealed buildings, making people feel sick.
- One of the NASA experiments testing this solution was the BioHome, an early experiment in what the Agency called “closed ecological life support systems.” The BioHome, a tightly sealed building constructed entirely of synthetic materials, was designed as suitable for one person to live in, with a great deal of the interior occupied by houseplants. Before the houseplants were added, though, anyone entering the newly constructed facility would experience burning eyes and respiratory difficulties, two of the most common symptoms of Sick Building Syndrome. Once the plants were introduced to the environment, analysis of the air quality indicated that most of the VOCs had been removed, and the symptoms disappeared.
- B.C. “Bill” Wolverton went on to write technical papers and a book on plants “How to Grow Fresh Air: 50 Houseplants That Purify Your Home or Office.”
Basically, houseplants cleaned the air of toxins and kept people from getting sick!
Top 5 Succulents to Clean the Air
There are a lot of plants that will clean the air but I’m partial to succulents (and I think you are too). Here are the best of the best, but any succulent will do, they all clean the air, these are just harder workers.
- Aloe – Cleans benzene and formaldehyde (see below) from the air. Benzene is often found in paint, glues, gas, detergents, and more. One of the top air-purifying plants. If you only get one plant on this list, get this one.
- Snake Plant or Mother in Law’s tongue – Cleans formaldehyde from the air. Formaldehyde is found in most air fresheners, paper towels, nail polish, furniture, polyester and in some toothpaste, baby care items, and skincare items.
- Christmas Cactus – Reduces radiation and pollution in the air.
- Easter Cactus – Same as above.
- Rubber Plant – Also cleans formaldehyde and does well in lower light.
A NASA study done in 1989 recommended 15-18 plants to clean the air in your home or about one plant per 100 square feet. I’m sure if they did a current study, the recommended amount would be more.
Questions or Comments? Leave them below, I love to hear from you!