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Published Sep. 28, 2021

Everyone loves that new car smell, but as that fades over time. Once you start adding in fast food, wet pets, and sweaty workout gear, your ride can start to smell pretty bad. That’s when it’s time to invest in a car air freshener. Naturally, there are a plethora of options to choose from on the market today, so how can you be sure you’re getting one that’s great quality, delivers a pleasing scent, and is long-lasting? We’ve got you covered with our list of top favorites and a handy buying guide so that you get the perfect car air freshener just for you.

Best Car Air Fresheners Reviews and Recommendations

The Moso Natural Air Purifying Bag is just that — a natural and chemical-free way to remove odors from your car by using activated charcoal to scrub the air of excess moisture that can be a breeding ground for nasties like mold, mildew, bacteria — the things that really cause bad odors. Unlike most car air fresheners, this product doesn’t use heavy perfumes to cover up nasty smells, but actually absorbs the things that cause them.

One small bag is able to cover up to 90 square feet, making this a great option not just for your car, but also for your RV, too. Aftercare couldn’t be easier either as all you’ll have to do is just take it out of your car every month and leave it in the sun to dry and re-activate. After two years of use, instead of tossing it in the trash, you open the bag and sprinkle the charcoal on your favorite plant as healthy, nutritious plant food. You can’t get much more environmentally friendly and health-conscious than that.

Specs
  • Brand Moso Natural
  • Model MB2579-4PK
  • Weight 12.06 ounces
PROS

All-natural, non-toxic

Fragrance-free

Lasts up to two years

CONS

No fun scents to choose from

Pricey

Somewhat bulky

Yankee Candle Company knows pretty much all there is to know about fragrances and the Yankee Candle Gel Car Jar Ultimate Hanging Air Freshener is an ideal example of that. This compact and miniature version of one of the brand’s scents can hang from your rearview mirror, or easily hide under your seat for a more discreet option. This particular scent is a blend of patchouli, sage, musk, and mahogany cologne.

The scented gel lasts up to four weeks and is 100 percent recyclable when you’re done with it. It’s an affordable choice, too, and given that there are so many scent options to choose from, you can work through all your favorite smells each month. This car air freshener doesn’t last as long as some others on the market, but it’s a great choice if you like to change things up frequently. These scents also work more to mask odors than to actually remove them.

Specs
  • Brand Yankee Candle
  • Model 1220877
  • Weight 0.16 ounces
PROS

Affordable

Lots of scents to choose from

Lets you take your favorite Yankee Candle scents with you

CONS

Only lasts up to four weeks

Gets progressively weaker as time goes on

Works more to mask odors than to eliminate them

If you’re not a fan of big air fresheners dangling from your rearview mirror, you may like the understated Little Trees Car Air Freshener Vent Wrap. It’s a slim design that simply slides onto one of your air vents to allow air to still flow freely, yet also provide a fragrance masking any scents. It’s also made in the USA.

Being so compact, however, this air freshener only lasts about two weeks before needing to be replaced. It’s available in several different fragrances and comes sold in packages of two, so each package will last you a month or so.

Specs
  • Brand Little Trees
  • Model CTK-52731-24
  • Weight 0.317 ounces
PROS

Compact and discreet option

Available in a variety of scents

Provides a bit more subtle scent than some other options

CONS

Somewhat pricey

Only lasts for about two weeks

Doesn’t contain any odor neutralizers

Honorable Mention

The Febreze Car Air Freshener takes what the Febreze brand is good at and brings it into your ride, as it was specifically designed for a car’s vent system. In the package, you get a set of five air freshener clips that attach right onto your car’s air vents that allow the “pleasantly-scented” air to flow throughout your vehicle. And this specific air freshener uses the company’s proprietary OdorClear Technology to eliminate odors and replace them with a light, fresh scent.

A single clip can last for up to 30 days inside your car, giving you long-lasting results. The one drawback is that these little clip-ons can almost be too strong sometimes, so if you’re sensitive to fragrances, you may want to go with something a little less noticeable.

Specs
  • Brand Febreze
  • Model 13
  • Weight 1.6 ounces
PROS

Comes in a convenient multi-pack

Clips on an out-of-the-way location in your vehicle

Scent stays consistent and strong for the life of the product

CONS

Each unit only lasts about a month

Can almost be too strongly scented

A little pricey

The Little Trees U6P-60155 Black Ice Air Freshener is the iconic car air freshener, having been around for decades. It provides simple and straightforward odor masking capabilities and this particular option comes in a set of 24 trees, giving you months of fresh scents in your vehicle.

A far cry from just the original pine-scented version, the company now offers a wide variety of scents to suit any taste. It is, however, one of the more understated air fresheners on our list and won’t provide any absorption of odor-causing particles, as it’s meant more as an odor-masking solution. These trees last about a month each but get noticeably less potent day by day, especially if your car is quite smelly.

Specs
  • Brand Little Trees
  • Model U6P-60155
  • Weight 2.88 ounces
PROS

Affordable

Discreet scent that doesn’t overpower

Available in a wide variety of smells

CONS

Doesn’t absorb odors

Might be too subtle for some people

Scent fades progressively

The Bliss Essential Oil Natural Car Air Freshener is a unique take on a car air freshener, giving more thought in its outward design than most standard air fresheners. The rectangular pot holds enough essential oil to deodorize your car for up to six months, and could also be used in your bathroom, bedroom, office, or closet.

You can choose from several essential oil blends or come up with your own personalized scent from the company, and all oils are cruelty-free, paraben-free, and environmentally friendly. This air freshener is a great option for anyone who might be overly sensitive to fragrances and other standard car air fresheners. It is, however, quite pricey and you’ll need to refill it once the oils have dried up.

Specs
  • Brand Bliss
  • Model BLBL2020012
  • Weight 1.76 ounces
PROS

Stylish and modern option

Contains all-natural essential oils

Works in spots other than your vehicle for added versatility

CONS

May leak

Pricey

Limited scent options

How We Selected the Best Car Air Fresheners 

There were hundreds of different options for car air fresheners to choose from. In order to narrow down and select only the best options, we first chose products that came from reputable manufacturers. We wanted to offer a diverse selection of car air fresheners, versus just sticking with one type, since there are so many different options available. For pricing strategy, we also wanted to offer a wide range to suit any budget, from being extremely price-conscious to the upper end of the spectrum.

Our product selections, rankings, and awards for this story are based on research. While we haven’t conducted real-world testing on all of these products yet, we’ve looked at consumer testimonials and data, tutorials, and general discussions on social media and in forums. We also consider price and specification in the context of the segment. And, of course, we rely on our institutional knowledge of the automotive landscape to weed out weak products.

Buying Guide/What to Look For 

Different Types of Car Air Fresheners

One factor that makes choosing the best car air freshener challenging is the sheer number of available options. These fresh-smelling, air-purifying products come in many different styles, and you have a lot of different types you can consider. There are six common kinds of car air fresheners.

Cardboard 

Cardboard air fresheners are the most simplistic and often the most inexpensive choice you’ll find. These air fresheners are slim in profile and powerful in scent, however, they typically last no longer than a couple of weeks. You can hang a cardboard air freshener from your rearview mirror or clip it onto surfaces throughout your car. Instead of eliminating odors, these products work by releasing strong, pleasant scents, which are designed to mask offensive odors in your car.

Bag

A newer take on car air fresheners is the bag or sachet. These have been used for years in closets and dressers to freshen clothing and remove mold-causing humidity. They’re often filled with odor-absorbing products like activated charcoal or bamboo. Some are also scented, but many are fragrance-free odor absorbers, so they’re a great option for allergy sufferers.

Essential Oil Diffusers

Essential oils are all-natural oils that work to mask odors and create a pleasing and more enjoyable driving experience. They can come in the form of vent clips, bags, or little tiny jars that dangle from your rearview mirror.

Vent Diffusers 

Many car air fresheners work as vent diffusers or clip-on products. These items circulate cleaner, fresher air throughout your car by attaching right onto your car’s air vents. Each time you turn on the fan or run the AC, the airflow will carry the fragrance. The scent is consistent, and you’ll get a lasting flow of fresh air. These car air fresheners can last for weeks or months at a time, and they’re often quite affordable.

FAQs:

Q: Is it illegal to have air fresheners in your car?

Many states have laws that prohibit anything dangling from your rearview mirror that may obstruct or impede your ability to see out the windshield clearly. If this is your state, we recommend skipping the air fresheners that hang from mirrors and going with vent clips, or stowing your air fresheners under one of your car seats. 

Q: How often should I change my air freshener?

Different types of air fresheners will last for different lengths of time as some will last a couple of weeks, while others can last as long as six months. Change the air freshener whenever you cannot smell it working anymore.

Q: How can I make my car’s air freshener last longer?

For some air fresheners, like the simple hanging cardboard trees, there really isn’t any way to make them last longer. If your air freshener has an adjustable vent or dial, not using it fully open can also help extend the life of the air freshener, but again, you won’t get as strong of a smell.

Final Thoughts

When it comes to the ideal combination between functionality, reliability, cost, and an all-natural car air freshener, our top pick has to be the Moso Natural Air Purifying Bag. This is a linen bag that contains activated charcoal and natural bamboo, an entirely natural and chemical-free way to remove odors from your car.

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