On average, we spend about 93% of our time indoors, which means maintaining an ideal indoor humidity level is a must for healthy living. A moist environment is a breeding ground for bacteria and mold, and too much indoor moisture can also cause damage throughout your home.
When experiencing excessive indoor humidity, we can experience numerous unwanted symptoms, including watery eyes, coughing, sneezing, itching, fatigue, congestion, dizziness and respiratory infections.
That damp scent, mold, mildew or even rotting frames, don’t create the most appealing atmosphere, and they can even put you in a poor mood or lead to depression. One study found that there are “significant negative relationships between relative humidity and ‘mood scores,’ which represent a measure of happiness.” Other research has shown that feeling healthy, happiness, social affection, and physical strength can all be influenced by relative humidity levels.
Many people don’t understand why they feel ill so often, but it could very well be in the high level of indoor humidity in their environment that’s behind it. The good news is that back in the late 1980s, NASA began researching houseplants as a means of providing cleaner, purer air for its space station, and what they learned was that there are a number of houseplants that can help purify the air and balance indoor humidity, removing that unwanted stickiness and mold hazard. Some can even remove nasty air pollutants and toxins, including the biggest concerns: benzene, trichloroethylene, and formaldehyde, which could lead to serious health problems like asthma, cancer and various allergies.
Who would have thought that by doing something as simple as bringing in houseplants we could get rid of the yeck and improve our health and well-being?
The next time you head to your local nursery or garden store, be sure to pick up one or more of these. Just remember to never let your plants sit in stagnant water as you’ll counteract the beneficial effects – as soon as the water has drained through the soil and into the tray below, dispose of it. You can also discourage mold growth on the top of the soil by covering it with Spanish moss or a bit of aquarium gravel.
1. Boston Fern
A Boston fern is not only a very attractive, exotic plant, with gracefully arching, frilly leaves, it’s ideal for using as a natural humidifier. This popular indoor plant thrives in moist climates, naturally absorbing the humidity that’s in the air around it. It helps balance humidity levels to make your home more comfortable, and it even removes those unwanted toxins we mentioned, formaldehyde, xylene, and benzene, to purify your air.
These ferns look gorgeous hanging from baskets anywhere in your home, just remember to keep them in direct sunlight and mist the leaves with water regularly to keep them looking that way.
2. Spider Plant
The spider plant is another common houseplant that’s incredibly easy to grow. It’s beautiful, with its long, arching leaves, but what makes it a true stand out is that it’s said to remove as much as 90 percent of the toxins in the air in just two days, helping to absorb carbon monoxide and formaldehyde. Because the leaves grow so quickly, these plants are very helpful for absorbing harmful substances like mold and other allergens and can help balance humidity levels too.
3. Peace Lily
The peace lily helps to reduce humidity levels as it absorbs moisture in the air through its leaves. It’s also easy to grow and requires very little sunlight to thrive, making it ideal for those who don’t necessarily have a “green thumb.” In addition to lowering moisture in the air, it too comes with the added benefit of purifying the air of pollutants and toxins. You may want to keep these plants in your bathrooms, as they can help keep your shower curtains and tiles from developing mildew as well as to absorb harmful vapors from things like acetone and alcohol.
The only downside is that if you have pets or small children, it’s essential to keep it out of their reach as the peace lily is mildly toxic when consumed.
4. English Ivy
This plant is ideal for those with pets as it can reduce the amount of airborne fecal matter – we know, yuck, but it’s the reality for anyone who has animals indoors. Thankfully, the English Ivy plant can help control that. It can also help absorb formaldehyde, which is more common than you might think as it’s often found in carpeting treatments, furniture, and household cleaning products. It can also remove airborne molds that are common in humid places.
Caring for the English Ivy plant is simple – it requires minimal sunlight, all you have to do is keep the soil moist. It’s ideal to keep in a hanging pot, placed higher up in a room near the ceiling for absorbing humidity that rises.
Palms thrive in the world’s humid areas and also absorb moisture through their leaves. Whether you choose a bamboo palm, lady palm, areca palm or reed palm, they are especially good at getting rid of indoor air pollutants, particularly formaldehyde. Plus they’re easy to care for too. The reed palm may be most ideal as in comparison to other types, it can survive lower light, meaning it can thrive in a home environment, just keep the soil moist.
The areca palm is a good choice too, although it will need year-round care and tends to grow slowly, it’s an excellent humidifier and can be kept anywhere in the home. As it helps to remove those deadly toxins, putting it next to furniture that’s just been varnished, or in carpeted areas is ideal for keeping your indoor air cleaner too.
Tillandsia thrives best when they’re kept indoors in front of a sunny window to get lots of filtered sunlight. They can live off the moisture and nutrients in the air by absorbing them through their leaves, which means they’re also very effective as a natural humidifier. Just be sure to water it at least two to three times per week, as it still needs regular watering to thrive.
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