LAST UPDATED: April 15, 2021

The Best Car Air Fresheners: Give Your Car a Brand New Scent

Best Choice Moso Natural Air Purifying Bag Moso Natural Air Purifying Bag
Premium Pick The Best Car Air Fresheners: Give Your Car a Brand New Scent Purggo Car Air Freshener
Best Value Refresh Your Car Scented Gel Can Refresh Your Car Scented Gel Can

There’s nothing quite like that new car smell. And, there’s nothing quite as bad as a funky, unidentified stink coming from somewhere in your vehicle. Whether it’s caused by lost and forgotten food, sweaty sporting equipment, wet pets, dirty clothes, or whatever else, driving around in a smelly car can be pretty embarrassing. 

That’s where having a good-quality car air freshener can really help you out. If you have a strange odor that just seems to linger, no matter how many times you vacuum your car’s interior, you need 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 lasts a long time?

Car Bibles has you covered. A quick read through our informative product review and in-depth buying guide will ensure you get the perfect car air freshener just for you. No more worrying about your friends whispering behind your back about that nasty smell in your car, you’ll be able to chauffeur those freeloaders around with confidence.

The Best Car Air Fresheners

The Moso Natural Air Purifying Bag is just that, entirely natural – and so harsh chemical free – way to remove odors from your car. It is essentially a linen bag that contains natural bamboo charcoal and nothing else.

The activated charcoal essentially scrubs the air of excess moisture that can be a breeding ground for nasties like mold, mildew, bacteria – these are the things that really cause bad odors. Stop them in their tracks using products like this one and you don’t need to worry about bad odors in your car – they simply don’t exist!

After care couldn’t be easier either – just take it out of your car every month and leave in the sun to dry and re-activate. After two years use (yes – two years!), instead of tossing it in the trash, you open the bag and sprinkle the charcoal on your favorite plant as tasty, nutritious plant food. You can’t get much more environmentally friendly and health conscious than that.

Specification
  • Brand Moso Natural
  • Model MB2579
  • Weight 12.6 oz

If you’re looking for the best bang for your buck, a great-smelling air freshener that looks fun and won’t cost an exorbitant amount is the California Scents Hanging Palms Air Freshener. This little hanging palm tree packs a powerful, scented punch that is designed to mask odors, not absorb them. It’s available in four different scents of Shasta Strawberry, Ice, Newport New Car, and Tropical Colada. This unit comes with 24 separately wrapped air fresheners, bringing the cost of each one to below $1.

The scents are fun and tropical and provide a noticeable smell for between 45-90 days, which isn’t as long as the California Scents Canned Air Freshener, but these are a better option if you’re sensitive to smells and don’t want something that’s going to be too overpowering. They’re designed to hang, but you can choose to place them under the seats of your car, or hang them in your laundry room, closets, garage, bathroom, pet area, RV, and more.

Specification
  • Brand California Scents
  • Model 091400039486
  • Weight 0.29 oz

The Air Jungles Car Air Fresheners come in a package of six vent clips. Each is filled with 0.13 fluid ounces of liquid air freshener that lasts up to 30 days, for a total of 180 days. You can get them in New Car Scent, Hawaiian, Honey Peach, and Ocean, for some of the more innovative air freshener scents on the market. Each unit clips easily to your car’s vent and does release a stronger scent the higher you run your car’s ventilation system.

These vent clips provide a stronger and more overpowering fragrance than some other models on the market, which has been known to cause sensitive individuals to complain of headaches or stuffy nose after prolonged exposure. These are a great option for people who love a good strong smell that won’t die out after a couple of weeks. Just be sure to remove the pull tab on each clip to release the scent prior to affixing it to your vent. These are also a great option to affix to your home’s heating vents to help freshen up your living room, bedroom, bathroom, hallways, and more.

Specification
  • Brand Air Jungles
  • Model N/A
  • Weight 3.98 ounces

Usually when a product comes along with “premium” right there in the name, we’re a little skeptical. After all, if you’re putting it right up there in the product name, you’re already setting a high bar for yourself. Fortunately, when it also comes with the name Chemical Guys attached, then you can believe the hype.

This is a premium product, rest assured. It contains natural enzymes that – you guessed it – go to work taking out all the junk in the air that causes bad odors. It is also specially formulated to re-create that cool “new car” smell that you know we love!

As a premium product it does of course come with a somewhat premium price tag – however this is offset somewhat because this is actually a concentrated product. You can use it neat – in which case use it very, very sparingly – but you can also dilute it down with water.

That helps to offset the price tag somewhat, making this product both effective and economical.

Specification
  • Brand Chemical Guys
  • Model AIR_101_16
  • Weight 1.19 lbs

This is the first of what would be considered a traditional air freshener to appear on the list. It does not contain enzymes, it does not shoot out ions to target mold spores – you simply tape it to your dash (or leave it in a door or dash cup holder) and let it do its job.

The question then is does it do it – and the answer is a resounding yes! The Squash scent air freshener has been around for years and years. In fact the first time you smell it, chances are it will transport you straight back to your childhood!

And you will smell it, this is a pretty strong product although it toes the line just the right side of being overpowering. It will definitely cover up bad smells and bring a nice aroma to your car. It lasts about a month, and refills are pretty cheap too, so it’s a decent long-term investment.

Specification
  • Brand Air Spencer
  • Model 000400
  • Weight 45 gr

The Febreze Car Air Freshener is a highly effective yet very compact product. This car air freshener might be small in size, but it packs a powerful punch when it comes to smells and odors that linger inside your vehicle. Designed specifically for use in cars, you’ll get a set of five air freshener clips that attach right onto your car’s air vents. Using just one clip at a time, you’ll get fresh, pleasantly-scented air flowing throughout your vehicle. Each one of these air fresheners releases a Linen & Sky scent that’s clean and airy.

You’ll notice a difference when you use the Febreze Car Air Freshener. It uses 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. And these car air freshener clips are easy to install, requiring just a single press into place to stay firm and secure as you drive.

Specification
  • Brand Febreze
  • Model 13
  • Weight 1.6 ounces

Hands up – when you started reading this article on car air fresheners, who didn’t expect to see this iconic product make it onto the list?

The truth is, when you think air freshener, the image in your mind almost certainly goes to the little tree hanging from the rear view – and with good reason. This product by this brand has been around for years, and while it may not have the high-tech abilities of some of the products on this list, it is certainly one that has stood the test of time.

It’s hard to write about these because everyone knows what they are, right? They hang from the rear view, they smell great – simple! One complaint has always been that the odor perhaps doesn’t last as long as other products.

Since these come in a pack of 24 though, you can easily replace them as the perfume fades. A great, traditional product that been around almost for as long cars themselves!

Specification
  • Brand Little Trees
  • Model U6P-60155
  • Weight 2.88 oz

We know exactly what you’re thinking – surely a lit candle is going to be a hazard while driving, right?

All jokes aside, this is of course not a traditional Yankee Candle – it’s a gel product that hangs from the rear view mirror – though you could also tack it to the dash or leave it in a cup holder if you prefer.

While it is not a candle, this product does take advantage of the years of premium fragrance making of a reputable brand like Yankee. What does that mean in practical terms – it means it smells great!

Again, it also neutralizes odors pretty effectively too, allowing it to work on two fronts of odor elimination and also creating a nice smelling atmosphere in your car.

Specification
  • Brand Yankee Candle
  • Model 1220877
  • Weight 0.16 oz

If you’re looking for a car air freshener that delivers effective results but doesn’t harm the environment, consider the California Scents Spillproof Can Air Freshener. This handy little air freshener is secured inside a can — all you have to do is open the can, place it inside your vehicle, and allow it to work on its own. You can place this air freshener under a seat, in your cupholder, or anywhere you’d like to freshen up the interior of your vehicle. You’ll get a pack of 12 scented cans, each 1.5 ounces in size and with a different fragrance. Once opened, each air freshener will last 60 days or longer.

California Scents Spillproof Can Air Freshener is made with an eco-friendly formula that really works. That formula is engineered to deliver long-lasting fragrance that tackles even the toughest odors. And the recyclable aluminum containers that hold each individual air freshener are able to help reduce your carbon footprint.

Specification
  • Brand California Scents
  • Model CCS-1207CT
  • Weight 1.5 ounces per can

With notes of sweet ripe banana combining with the nutty goodness of tropical coconut filling your nose, this car air freshener provides an entirely different riding experience. Putting it simply, you’ll be driving yourself towards the idyllic beaches and virgin rainforests of a tropical island paradise.

That’s the experience one gets with every tin can of the Refresh Your Car. With a choice of Hawaiian Sunrise, Summer Breeze, Pacific Rain, and a few others providing a refreshing fragrance to your car, you can always be sure that the ride will feel nothing less than paradise-like. Not only is every can of this car air freshener fully capable of bringing sensations of paradise inside your car, it also does a great job eliminating nasty odors.

Controlling the strength of the scent that fills your car’s cabin is quite difficult with conventional air fresheners. With the Refresh Your Car, fine-tuning the degree of fragrance that floods your cabin is made ridiculously simple with a twist of its scent control lid. It’s an otherwise simple solution that other manufacturers perhaps do not really think about. For that, the Refresh Your Car gets a thumb’s up.

Specification
  • Brand Refresh Your Car
  • Model 09964
  • Weight 5.6 oz

The issue with most car air fresheners is that they have to be placed right in front of the air conditioner vent to allow the scent to be circulated throughout the cabin of the car. While this is understandable, the presence of a gadget or contraption that can detract from the overall aesthetics of one’s car interior can be an issue that is not easily passed by some car owners. And if you’re one of them, you’d want something that easily blends with the rest of your car’s interior.

That’s exactly what the Little Trees bring to the table. Looking at the package you’d think this car air freshener is just like other products that need to be hanged on your rearview mirror or clipped to your air convent. But once you open the package, you’d be surprised at just how small this contraption is. Moreover, you’d be asking yourself how such a small piece of technology can help you freshen up your cabin.

With patent-pending StediScent technology, the Little Trees car air freshener hugs a single slat in your air convent. The way in which the Little Trees device is designed is that it blends seamlessly with the black background of the vent so your passengers won’t exactly know where that lovely fragrance is coming from. It’s the perfect tool for keeping your car smelling fresh, making others think that you’re so meticulous in the care of your vehicle.

Specification
  • Brand Little Trees
  • Model CTK-52233-24
  • Weight 0.8 oz

If you’re looking for a natural car air freshener, you might think your options are limited — but the Purggo Car Air Freshener may be able to meet all of your needs. This impressive and somewhat unique air freshener doesn’t work like traditional devices or fragrant-heavy products. Instead, it operates with no chemicals, no fragrance, and no plastic. It’s made out of 100 percent natural bamboo charcoal, which naturally absorbs odors and unpleasant scents.

It functions like an air purifier, eliminating odors inside your car rather than masking them with another smell. And it’s a great option for kids, pets, and those with asthma or allergies.

The porous bamboo charcoal that this car air freshener is made from works like a large sponge. As air passes through it, odor particles become trapped. It lasts for over 365 days, offering you one of the longest-lasting options available today. And when you’re done with this air freshener, you can use it as a natural fertilizer for your plants or garden.

Specification
  • Brand Purggo
  • Model PGCAR
  • Weight 12.8 ounces

The Yankee Candle Vent Clip Car Air Freshener gets a shout out for not only being a fun design, but coming in one of the widest arrays of fragrance options of any air freshener on the market. Choose from unique scents like Bahama Breeze, Black Coconut, Lavender Vanilla, Leather, Sun & Sand, and many more. These air fresheners aren’t only designed to mask odors in your vehicle, but they also serve to conjure up a feeling, warm memory, or relaxing vibe.

The clip is designed with a clear window so that you can see exactly how much air freshening fluid is left in the container. It clips easily to car vents, home heating vents, even school and gym lockers, giving you plenty of uses for this product. For most users, the clip lasts 30 days, so this definitely isn’t the cheapest air freshener on the market. The fragrance can be made stronger or weaker by adjusting the slider bar on the unit. Some users report that this air freshener is not nearly as strong as they’d like. It works best in temperatures of 70 degrees Fahrenheit or above. We also like that it’s 100 percent recyclable.

Specification
  • Brand Yankee Candle Company
  • Model 1304389
  • Weight 0.634 ounces

The Bliss Essential Oil Natural Car Air Freshener is one of the most unique and different takes we’ve seen on a car air freshener yet. It looks super stylish and modern, like a piece of decor for your car, rather than just an air freshener. The high-quality square pot holds enough essential oil to deodorize your car for up to six months. It’s also a classy and understated option to place in your bathroom, bedroom, office, walk-in closet, sitting room, and more.

You can choose from several predetermined essential oil blends or come up with your own personalized scent. All oils are cruelty-free, paraben-free, and environmentally friendly. This air freshener is a great option for anyone who is concerned about their exposure to toxic chemical components or people who might be overly sensitive to such things. Some users complain that the unit tends to leak when in the upside down position, which is the position it’s supposed to be in for optimal operation.

Specification
  • Brand Bliss
  • Model BLBL2020012
  • Weight 1.76 ounces

The Home-Cloud Essential Oil Diffuser Vent Clip is another stylish and healthy addition to your car that will leave it smelling pleasantly fresh and clean without overpowering you or giving you a headache. The vent clip lockets are constructed from premium stainless steel that’s corrosion- and rust-resistant and will last you a long time. The clip lock on the back is strong and stays stable, even on bumpy roads and rugged terrain. Like many other models on our list, these air fresheners can also be used in your home or office, although due to their compact size, they might not be strong enough to make a noticeable difference in larger rooms.

This pack of four diffuser clips comes with an impressive 44 refill pads of various scents, so you can mix and match them to create your own blend of smells, or use two at a time in your car to create a more noticeable smell. The 44 refill pads come in 11 different colors for added style. The refill pads come unscented, so you have to add your own essential oils, which you must purchase separately. While that’s an added expense, you can get a strong and permeating scent with as little as 8-10 drops of oil on a single pad, which is pretty economical in the long run.

Specification
  • Brand: Home-Cloud
  • Model: N/A
  • Weight: 3.2 ounces

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 car air fresheners are the most simplistic and often the most inexpensive choice you’ll find. These air fresheners are slim in profile but can be powerful in scent — but they typically last no longer than a couple of weeks on average. 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.

Plug-in

Plug-in car air fresheners work via your car’s cigarette lighter socket. Pop one of these products into your car’s lighter socket or outlet and the electricity will heat up fragrance oil located inside the device. That heat will result in a fragrant smell that fills your car interior. These car air fresheners are especially great at eliminating stubborn odors. However, they can be a more expensive option.

car air freshener

Can

A can car air freshener is literally a solid scent placed inside a metal or plastic can. Compact in size, and able to be placed on the floor of your vehicle or on a flat surface or cupholder, these air fresheners use a gel to release fragrance into your car interior. They come in a number of different styles, including cans that can be peeled open and twist-lid versions that allow you to control the amount of fragrance that’s released.

Sticky Gel

Sticky gel car air fresheners are a spin on the can air freshener. It’s essentially a highly scented gel that comes in a block or strip rather than a can. You simply stick the gel onto a surface inside your car, and it releases a pleasant fragrance. However, there’s a downside — these air fresheners simply mask unpleasant smells instead of actually getting rid of them.

Spray

Spray car air fresheners are short-term options for removing bad odors and lingering smells. They work just like household aerosol sprays; you spray the product into your car and allow it to fill the air with a fresh, clean scent. Unfortunately, these types of air fresheners don’t offer long-lasting results. They often have to be reapplied in order to be effective.

Vent Sticks Or Diffusers

Many car air fresheners work as vent sticks, 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.

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Benefits of Using Car Air Fresheners

Car air fresheners are not really new technologies. They’ve been around for more than half a century. Every mode of transportation today, be it on land, water, or air, will have an air freshening system in their respective cabins.

One of the most important benefits of using car air fresheners is that it makes the ride more enjoyable or, to put it simply, less stressful. Not everyone can stand the smell of a moldy car interior or even a cigarette smoke-filled cabin. Not everyone will feel comfortable with the stench of pet urine on the car’s floor or even upholstery. The point is that, while it is unavoidable that odor molecules will be floating and sticking around in our car’s interior, you can do something about it. Using car air fresheners can help provide a more pleasant odor to your cabin, making the trip more worthwhile.

There is another benefit that is closely related to the first. Since there are air fresheners that utilize essential oils, you can actually feel more comfortable and more relaxed while driving. If you’re feeling pain, the scent of essential oils can help alleviate the pain sensation or discomfort that you’re experiencing. Think of it more like another day in the spa where you’re being calmly treated to a taste of paradise.

Some air fresheners actually work more than just simply mask the odor; they actually work to neutralize the source of the nasty smell. These products are the best since putting a scent in lieu of another is hardly the best way to manage a problem. This makes these types of air fresheners true healing wonders. If you’re able to get rid of the actual source of the bad odor, you’re saving your lungs from inhaling these odor molecules. And if you have allergies, this can actually be a life-saving device for you.

Best Car Air Fresheners FAQ:

Q:  What if I have allergies or the smell is too strong?

If you’re an allergy sufferer or are sensitive to strong perfumes and scents, you will want to steer clear of car air fresheners that contain strong man-made chemicals and perfumes. Instead, consider an essential oil or other all natural product, like the charcoal-activated or bamboo-filled air purifying bags that actually absorb offensive odors, rather than trying to cover it up with various scents.

car diffuser

Q:  How often should I change my air freshener?

Different types of car air fresheners will last for different lengths of time. Some will last a couple of weeks, some can last as long as six months. Change the air freshener whenever you cannot smell it working anymore. This is where refillable essential oil car air fresheners can be an economical choice, since you just have to refresh the air freshener whenever you want by adding a few drops of a potent and all-natural essential oil.

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

For some car air fresheners, like the simple hanging cardboard trees, there really isn’t any way to make them last longer. If you use a gel or solid that comes in a can, putting the lid on the can whenever you exit your vehicle can greatly help extend its life, but it means that it won’t be working to hide odors when you’re not in the car, and it may take some time to accumulate enough perfume in the air to do its job every time you go anywhere. 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.

Our Top Pick

Now that you’re well-versed in the wide variety of options you have when it comes to choosing a car air freshener, it’s probably easy to see why we chose the Moso Natural Air Purifying Bag as our top overall pick. It’s all natural, made from high-quality components, and actually absorbs odors instead of just trying to mask them with overpowering perfumes. It’s a great option for allergy sufferers and people who are sensitive to strong smells. Even better, a single bag can last for up to two years. That’s impressive, compared to the overly short lifespans of some other options. 

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Sources:

  1. 5 Types of Car Air Fresheners – Ezinearticles
  2. Air Fresheners Can Trigger Allergy Symptoms – Medical News Today
  3. The Benefits of Car Air Fresheners – AirPure
  4. Air Freshener Car Damage  – ChronicleLive