Back in 1989, NASA researchers were working to determine the best ways to purify the air using standard plants found on earth. Unlike the information you’ve gotten from terrible sci-fi films, being stuck in a cabin for weeks or years on end leads to some pretty unsanitary conditions.
As astronaut Chris Hadfield explains, “It’s like seven people in a camper van with a porta-potty for two weeks, where you can never get out.”
Besides issues with toilets, even the vapors from “cooked” food stick around for awhile. As astronaut Clayton Anderson expounded upon in an article for Gizmodo: “Eating a fish dish often produced the most pungent odor, especially the US version of seafood gumbo. It might take a couple of hours to “purge” that smell from the airflow of the ISS. On shuttle missions, many commanders outlawed the eating of seafood gumbo due to its distinctive—and disliked—smell.”
The graphic below from Love the Garden gives you a great look at which houseplants filter the air the best.