Most of us spend much of our time indoors, so it may worry you to know that the air in your home or office may be contaminated with various pollutants.  Everything from cleaning products to building materials and furniture could be contributing to a toxic atmosphere in enclosed spaces. Pollutants like formaldehyde, ammonia, benzene and others may circulate in poorly ventilated areas and contributed to poor health. Keeping your place well-ventilated is helpful, but is not always possible. You may well not want wide open windows during winter, while some offices don’t even offer windows that can open, relying on air conditioning to circulate the air. Sick building syndrome is more common in such office blocks and could be a real problem.

Luckily, there’s a tried, tested and scientific way to remove harmful toxins from the air in your home – houseplants!

That’s right, certain houseplants are great at absorbing toxins and keeping them around can really make the air cleaner and better. If you don’t have green thumbs, don’t worry. Many of these plants are very easy to take care of.  You don’t need to worry about precise timing or water quantities when it comes to caring for them. Most of these toxin-absorbing plants are quite hardly and some require minimum water.

Below are five popular air-purifying plants that can be bought at pretty much any garden centre or even some flower shops. Some even thrive in the shade, so you can keep them even in locations without direct sunlight.

Peace Lily

With its big green leaves and large white flowers, the peace lily is possibly the most decorative houseplant on this list, but don’t let that fool you – this is one hardworking plant. The peace lily removes ammonia, formaldehyde and benzene from the atmosphere and does well in shaded spots, away from direct sunlight. It doesn’t even require that much water to grow. Just make sure the soil is moist by watering periodically. Avoid overwatering by not watering every day and using only small quantities of water each time. This plant will flower for most of the summer, so if you are allergic to pollen or adverse to the smell of flowers, it may not be the right plant for you.

Spider plant

Possibly the easiest houseplant to keep. This is a hardy plant that can take a beating – it will survive both overwatering and dryness. It’s a great plant for ridding the air of formaldehyde and xylene and can grow quite large if you let it (and repot it). It’s also a very easy plant to propagate. It sends out shoots with tiny little spider plants at the end. You can cut these off and put them in a new pot to grow a brand new spider plant. Just be careful – you could end up with too many!

Spider plants prefer indirect sunlight but can also grow quite happily in direct sunlight. They are not as happy in the shade, but will most likely survive.

Boston Fern

This is one of the most common houseplants that can be found in pretty much every shop. This fern gets rid of formaldehyde and xylene like the spider plant, but prefers shade and high moisture. You’ll need to put it out of direct sunlight and make sure the soil is always moist. Basically, ferns grow in forests and jungles under the cover of trees, so you’ll need to recreate that atmosphere at home to keep this plant happy. As long as you can keep the ground moist, you’re good to go. This plant doesn’t really require any special treatment and it’s difficult to overwater it.

Aloe vera

This popular plant cleans the air of formaldehyde, with the added bonus of being a great first aid plant for minor burns and other skin conditions. The gel in its juicy leaves can be applied to your skin for a whole range of minor irritations. Although it looks like a cactus, this is a succulent, so it does require a bit more water than a cactus would. Just make sure the soil is well drained and avoid overwatering. It will survive some dryness, so best err on the side of caution. Aloe veras are easy to care for and will survive most conditions, but prefer direct sunlight or bright places.

Snake Plant

A very hardly plant that doesn’t require much water and can survive in most conditions, though it prefers dry, bright conditions. Although not spectacular to look at, it rids the air of a whole range of pollutants including xylene, benzene, formaldehyde and more.