How to naturally purify indoor air without the use of chemicals. Indoor air is often more polluted due to the lack of air flow coursing through the building.
Indoor air pollutants are often two to five times higher than outdoor levels, with some cases exceeding 100 times that of outdoor levels.
In today’s chemical laden world, we’re exposed to toxins all the time, making it almost impossible to avoid them completely (you’d have to live in a sterilised ball for the rest of your life). Knowing this, I do my best to reduce the amount of toxins and pollutants I come into contact with on a daily basis.
According to Katie Wells, founder of Wellness Mama and Wellnesse, and an award-winning blogger, author, and podcaster, ‘a whopping 30-50% of all buildings are damp enough to encourage mould and bacteria growth according to EPA reports on air quality and asthma. These pathogens then increase the risk of certain health conditions, like asthma and infectious diseases.
She shares some of the most common sources of air pollution inside the home, which include:
- Outdoor air pollution seeping into the home
- Volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which are gases that are emitted into the air from things like paint, furniture, flooring, etc.
- Pet dander
- Conventional cleaners, air fresheners, and other chemical fragrances
- Gas stoves and other appliances (especially older models)
- Mould growth and dampness
- Carpet, drapes, and other furnishings that collect dust and dirt
Using an indoor air filter can be very useful in filtering out toxins hiding in the air, but there are other natural methods that work just as well in minimising exposure to toxic airborne chemicals.
Before we get started in learning how to naturally purify indoor air – if you like what you’re seeing, subscribe to my email newsletter at the bottom of the page to keep up to date on the latest recipes, DIYs, gardening and health tips I share!!
Houseplants make great air purifiers as they’re really effective at filtering out the air in your home while providing fresh oxygen for you to breathe. They also brighten up the place and bring a little bit of nature into the home.
According to the website, Treehugger, ‘spider plants are effective at reducing benzene, formaldehyde, carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide.’
Some other examples include:
- Barberton Daisy. Effective for filtering out toxins like formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, and benzene.
- English Ivy. Effective at reducing airborne faecal particles (perfect to have in your bathroom or ensuite) and mould.
- Snake plant (a.k.a Mother-in-Law’s Tongue). Releases oxygen at night, and helps to filter out formaldehyde, xylene, benzene, toluene, and trichloroethylene.
- Chrysanthemum. Effective for filtering out toxins like ammonia and benzene, often found in plastics, detergents, and glue.
- Aloe Vera. Place in a sunny location, and this healing plant will help filter toxins such as formaldehyde and benzene, which can be found in varnishes, floor finishes, and detergents.
- Broad Lady Palm. Helpful for reducing levels of ammonia, a chemical commonly found in a range of cleaning products.
- Red-Edged Dracaena (a.k.a Dragon Tree). Effective for filtering out pollutants like Trichloroethylene and xylene.
- Bamboo Palm. Famed for its effectiveness in removing formaldehyde from the air.
- Kimberly Queen Fern. One of the most effective indoor air purifiers.
- Pineapple Plant. Known for its ability to purify the air and remove harmful toxins.
- Chinese Evergreen. Effective at removing pollutants like formaldehyde and benzene, commonly found in detergents and cosmetics.
For more suggestions on indoor purifying plants, see here.
Anytime I think of salt, the image of Sid from the movie Ice Age pops into mind, with his famous quote, “Salty!”
Salt lamps help to purify the air inside your home. They’re made from Himalayan salt crystals and release negative ions into the air, which bind with toxins, removing them from the air.
They’re also a beautiful source of light, giving off a pinky-orangey glow. In fact, the natural orange glow doesn’t disrupt sleep hormones like fluorescent or blue lights do. When lit, the salt crystal naturally filters the air of allergens like pet dander, pollen, smoke, and other air pollutants. It can also dilute odours, making it easier to breathe.
The lamp can be kept alight for as long as you like. I keep mine lit 24/7 to maintain the purifying properties.
Paraffin candles are derived from petroleum (oil) and can release chemicals like soot, toluene, benzene and other chemicals when lit. These types of candles should be avoided as they do more harm than good to the quality of the air inside your home.
Pure beeswax candles on the other hand, burn with nearly no scent or smoke and actually clean the air by releasing negative ions, just like salt lamps.
People with asthma or allergies will find beeswax candles especially helpful as they’re very effective at removing common allergens like dander and dust from the air. Furthermore, candles made from beeswax last longer because they burn at a much slower rate.
Diffusing Essential Oils
Essentials oils like cinnamon, oregano, pine needle, rosemary, lavender, thyme, grapefruit, lemon, clove, eucalyptus and tea tree have the ability to kill bacteria, viruses, fungi and mould.
According to India Today, ‘studies from Webster State University have shown that Thieves oil, which is an antiseptic blend of pure essential oils like pine needle, cinnamon, thyme, eucalyptus, lemon and grapefruit, has a 99.96% kill rate against airborne bacteria. This mixture of essential oils helps keep the home free of germs and purifies the air.’
Also, there’s the added bonus that your house is left smelling absolutely incredible.
Activated Charcoal (Particularly Bamboo Charcoal)
Activated charcoal makes another fantastic air cleanser.
I’ve mentioned before how charcoal makes an excellent teeth whitener, and what’s even more amazing is it can effectively remove toxins in the air. The porous structure of activated charcoal allows it to trap pollutants, odours, bacteria, allergens and volatile organic compounds (VOC’s) in the air. It also absorbs moisture, preventing mildew and mould.
Things like paint, carpeting, furniture, air fresheners, chemical cleaners, rubber, and plastics can emit harmful toxins such as chloroform gases, formaldehyde, benzene, and ammonia (to name but a few). By placing some activated bamboo charcoal in burlap bags or cheesecloth around the home, the charcoal will help to freshen air, cleansing and absorbing toxins and pollutants hidden within it.
Placing the bags in sunlight once a month may help to rejuvenate the charcoal, allowing them to be reused again and again. These bags can last up to two years, and after that you can pour the used charcoal into the soil around plants to help retain moisture and fertilise them.
Clean with Non-Toxic Chemicals
Most store-bought household cleaners contain toxic chemicals that can irritate the eyes, nose, throat and lungs. If you choose to use these, make sure to open the windows while cleaning.
If you’re looking to switch to a more natural, healthier alternative, consider making your own household cleaners using ingredients like vinegar, baking soda, citrus or essential oils. Here are a few natural cleaning recipes I use.
As always, this is not personal medical advice and we recommend that you talk with your doctor before trying or using any new products. I am not a doctor. All opinions expressed are my own personal thoughts and feelings of the products mentioned. Check with your doctor or health practitioner if you are uncertain about trying out any of the products, recipes or tips mentioned in this post.
What natural methods do you use to help purify the air inside your home? Share in the comments below.
Lots of love,
Indoor Air vs. Outdoor Air. Mana Medical Associates. Retrieved from https://www.mana.md/indoor-air-vs-outdoor-air/
Wells, Katie. (January 23, 2019). 3 Natural Ways to Clean Indoor Air. Wellness Mama. Retrieved from https://wellnessmama.com/4629/clean-indoor-air/
Aashna, Ahuja NDTV. (November 8, 2018). 6 Natural Ways to Purify Air at Home. NDTV Food. Retrieved from https://food.ndtv.com/health/delhi-air-pollution-6-natural-ways-to-purify-air-at-home-1253794
Olson, Annaliese. Air Quality at Home: 10 Ways to Purify Your Indoor Environment Naturally. E Magazine – The Environmental Magazine. Retrieved from https://emagazine.com/air-quality-at-home/
Forget air purifiers, try these healthier natural ways to cleanse the air at home. (Updated: January 18, 2017). India Today. Retrieved from https://www.indiatoday.in/lifestyle/story/6-natural-ways-to-purify-the-air-at-your-home-lifest-953999-2017-01-17
Kirschner, Chanie. (Updated: April 22, 2021). 12 Ways to Get Clean Air Without Chemicals. Treehugger. Retrieved from https://www.treehugger.com/ways-get-clean-air-without-chemicals-4864310
Walden, Lisa; Prattey, Samantha. (March 1, 2021). 20 best air purifying plants for the home. Country Living. Retrieved from https://www.countryliving.com/uk/wellbeing/a668/houseplants-to-purify-house-air/
Watson, Kimber. (January 17, 2015). Is Your House Making You Sick? 5 Ways to Purify Home Air Naturally. Apartment Therapy. Retrieved from https://www.apartmenttherapy.com/is-your-house-making-you-sick-5-ways-to-purify-home-air-naturally-214726
How Can Activated Charcoal In Air Purifiers Make My Air Cleaner?. (April 10, 2020). Aeris. Retrieved from https://aerishealth.com/how-can-activated-charcoal-in-air-purifiers-make-my-air-cleaner/