Which Is Better for Improving Air Quality: Air Purifier vs Plants

It is an age-old debate, whether to grow plants in your home or office or just leave the windows open and let nature do its best to keep the air around clean and pristine.

In the last half-century, the debate has taken on new tones with the advent of air purifiers.

This brings the debate to a new level, air purifiers vs house plants, which is best.

Are house plants better than air purifiers at removing particles, pollutants, and even hazardous chemical residue from the air?

In a battle of air purifiers vs indoor plants, which one should you choose for your particular situation?

When the question of house plants vs air purifiers comes up, maybe you’ll have a little extra information to add to the discussion after reading this.

Air purifiers vs plants – new technology vs nature

From ancient Greece and the Aztec Empire to perhaps the most technologically advanced agency yet conceived in NASA, the debate of are plants better than air purifiers has escalated.

Many cultures revere plants in their homes, while others prefer them outside.

NASA, in anticipation of long-duration space flight, has experimented with plants on the International Space Station in a study of air purifiers vs indoor plants.

In a study of air purifiers vs plants, researchers have found a few surprises.

It’s been known for a long time that plants convert carbon dioxide to oxygen through photosynthesis, what wasn’t known was how plants can remove pollutants from the air as well.

Studying how air purifier vs indoor plants can improve the confined situations involved in space flight produced some interesting results.

Plants can absorb other gases besides carbon dioxide.

They are capable of removing volatile organic compounds such as formaldehyde, benzene, and acetone from the air, and storing it inside their cells.

This opened up an entirely new venue in the house plants vs air purifiers debate.

Plants can do many of the functions of an air purifier, without using electricity, requiring expensive filters to be replaced, or worrying about ozone buildup inside a home, but plants can be a big part of the problem as well.

Plants produce pollen, and pollen is one of the biggest reasons people discuss air purifiers vs plants in the first place.

There is no such thing as a hypoallergenic plant, they all reproduce through pollen.

Spores from puffballs, mushrooms, or other fungi can permeate the air as well, and in this situation, an air purifier vs plants is a slam dunk for technology.

Plants have their place

Plants do more than cleanse the air in a home, they provide a touch of nature in an otherwise sterile environment.

They lend color to a room, often smell nice, and are a link with nature that the modern world often loses touch with.

Tiny house plants don’t do much in the way of cleaning the air, but larger, broad-leafed varieties can clean a surprising volume. Many shrewd homeowners and apartment dwellers find ivy-style plants that send out long tendrils, filled with leaves.

The secret of plant purification is surface area.

The bigger the leaves, the more they’ll work to cleanse the air for you.

Air purifiers make it easier on us than plants do, in the air purifier vs plants debate, many plant advocates forget that plants require care, some more than others.

An additional problem with plants is that if they are overwatered they can become a great place for fungi to take hold, and the spores fungi produce are among the worst allergic pathogens in our air.

You can compare house plants vs air purifiers all you want, but a plant won’t remove spores, while a purifier will.

Your friend the snake, no not a rattler, a tree

Snake trees, have you heard of them?

They’re a tree species that thrive in a large pot inside a home, and they have a lot of beneficial uses. In a study comparing a snake plant vs air purifier function, the snake plant did surprisingly well.

Snake plants generate oxygen quickly, people can often tell the difference within a couple of days of bringing a snake plant inside their home.

Snake plants reduce allergens by increasing humidity.

That process involves watering the plant well, but not too much.

More moisture in the air reduces dust, pollen, and pet dander.

In another study of a snake plant vs air purifier in terms of air pollution reduction, the snake plant did fine, taking out substantial quantities of harmful chemicals like benzene, toluene, and xylene.

Air purifiers and plants together

Many people like to mix plants and air purifiers in their homes as a sort of “double whammy” in battling air pollution, pollen, and smoke.

The question you may have is do air purifiers hurt plants or is it just a case of air purifier vs indoor plants in a winner takes all proposition?

As usual, the answer is yes, and no.

An ozone-generating air purifier is dangerous to both animals and plants.

Even an ionizer is a bad idea right next to your favorite ficus because the ionization process can produce plant damaging ozone.

So do air purifiers hurt plants in all situations?

No, they don’t, a HEPA filter purifier than removes smoke and suspended dust can help a plant grow by allowing in more sunlight for the photosynthetic process.

More sun means a happier plant that can clean your air much more effectively.


Are plants better than air purifiers? Air purifiers and plants can both do a great job of cleaning the air in your home. They work fine by themselves, but when both are used in the same setting, the effects are magnified.

Finding good, healthy house plants that fit the environment inside your home can be a challenge, but in most cases, a plant with a woody stem, that has big, broad leaves is your best bet.

If you’re trying to lower the pollen count in the air inside your house or apartment because of allergies, don’t bring a bunch of heavily flowering plants inside.

They’ll just make the problem worse.

Find a durable, hardy, non–flowering plant, and take care of it with regular pruning and watering. Place it where it can receive direct sunlight.

Place your air purifier across the room from your plants.

The purifier doesn’t care if it’s day or night, it just runs on electricity and doesn’t need sun, water, or carbon dioxide to function.

Together, plants and air purifiers are a great combination in any home.