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The 10 Best Car Air Fresheners

best car air freshener

The best car air freshener can turn your vehicle from reeking like a pair of old shoes to smelling fresh and new.

Having a stinky car is not good for anyone. Not only can bad odors distract you from driving safely, but they can also make your car a people-repellent. Fortunately, a good air freshener for car interiors can go a long way to help you solve this problem.

If you’re ready to improve the aroma of your interior, our detailed car air freshener reviews and buying guide will help you weed out the best car fresheners from the sea of options. Have a quick look at our top picks.

Prices pulled from the Amazon Product Advertising API on:

Best Car Air Freshener Reviews

To find out what makes each of our top picks great, keep reading. For other great car accessories that will enhance your driving experience, see our car products page.

1. Moso Natural Air Purifying Bag

If you’re looking for an effective odor eliminator for your car, you can’t go wrong with Moso Natural’s Bamboo Charcoal Air Purifying Bags. Whereas most car air fresheners mask bad smells instead of eliminating them, this product absorbs and traps odors, moisture, and allergens.

It’s able to do this because charcoal is a powerful, chemical-free, and naturally-occurring odor absorber. The fact that it’s also completely fragrance-free makes it a great air freshener option for people with allergies

Moso Natural gives you 200 grams of the material to work with, which is more than enough to purify and freshen 90 square feet of the air around you. The package can be placed under your car seats for concealed odor absorption or hanged via a metal grommet. 

Compared to your average car freshener, which tends to have a service life of one month or less, this bag of charcoal can last up to 2 years if properly maintained, making it one of the longest-lasting car air fresheners on our list.

To keep it working for that long, simply lay the bag outside under direct sunlight for 1-2 hours every month to allow the sun’s UV rays to activate the charcoal and cause it to release the absorbed odors and free up room for more absorption. 

In other words, this natural car air freshener can be reused, which will save you money in the long run. However, the charcoal may need to be reactivated more often than advertised, which can be a hassle.

Things We Like

  • Eliminates odors at the source
  • Chemical-free, 100% natural
  • Fragrance-free, non-allergenic 
  • Reusable, very long-lasting

What We Don’t Like

  • Reactivating the charcoal for reuse can be a hassle

Bottom Line

The Moso Natural Bamboo Charcoal Air Purifying Bag is a top-rate, all-natural car odor eliminator that effectively removes unwanted odors without using harsh, potentially allergenic chemicals. CHECK LATEST PRICE

2. Meguiar’s Whole Car Air Re-Fresher Odor Eliminator Mist

This affordable car freshener from world-renowned car accessories brand Meguiar’s does more than just make your car smell better — it effectively eliminates the source of the foul odors instead of masking it as many other products do. 

The aptly-named Whole Car Air Re-Fresher Odor Eliminator Mist is a spray-and-forget type of product, and using it is very simple. Just close your car’s windows, turn on the AC, and apply the spray. After 15 minutes or so, open the windows to let the interior air out.

The compounds contained in the formula work on a molecular level to target odor-causing bacteria and mold spores, eliminating them instantly and leaving behind a pleasant fragrance. There are five available scents to choose from, including one that mimics the ‘new car’ smell that everyone seems to lust after.

Meguiar’s Whole Car Air Re-Fresher works exceptionally well to eliminate bad odors and leave behind a fresh smell. However, depending on the size of your vehicle and the severity of your odor problem, several cans may be needed to achieve desirable results. 

Things We Like

  • Effectively eliminates the source of bad smells, leaves behind pleasant smell
  • Five fragrances to choose from
  • Easy, spray-and-forget application
  • Affordable

What We Don’t Like

  • Quantity may be insufficient for big vehicles

Bottom Line

Meguiar’s best car freshener provides a one-two punch to your odor problem, penetrating deep into your car’s upholstery to eliminate the source of the problem and leaving behind a more pleasant smell. CHECK LATEST PRICE

3. Febreze Car Air Freshener Vent Clips

Renowned for its household supplies, Febreze isn’t a brand many people associate with cars. However, it offers some of the best car air freshener products on the market.

Its lineup of air fresheners are available in several of the same scents as its home sprays; however, some scents, such as ‘Unstopables Fresh’ and ‘Shimmer’, are made exclusively for cars and pack quite a punch. In fact, you get both scents as part of one package.

These car air freshener vent clips are designed to easily clip to your car’s air vents so that the air from the HVAC system circulates their fresh scent throughout the cabin, with a simple control mechanism allowing you to adjust how much of the scent is released.

Febreze’s proprietary OdorClear Technology doesn’t just mask unpleasant scents as many competing products do — it also helps remove them from the air. If managed properly, a single clip can last up to a month, which isn’t too shabby for a car air freshener. 

It will evaporate very quickly if not adjusted properly, however.

Things We Like

  • You get two different scents
  • Can be adjusted
  • Small, space-efficient
  • Easy to set up

What We Don’t Like

  • Evaporates quickly if not properly adjusted

Bottom Line

Febreze has been making high-quality household odor eliminators for years, so it’s no surprise that it also makes some of the best air fresheners for cars. These easy-to-use vent clips deliver great results. CHECK LATEST PRICE

4. Air Spencer CS-X3 Squash Scent Air Freshener

Whether you like a particular smell or not is a completely subjective matter; however, there are some scents that most people universally agree smell great. One of those scents might very well come from Air Spencer’s CS-X3 Squash Scent Air Freshener.

A long-time favorite of auto enthusiasts, this Japanese-made air freshener doesn’t smell like what its name suggests — squash. Rather, most people describe it as having a slightly fruity, sweet, and fresh scent that is irresistible, often comparing it to Juicy Fruit gum.

Aside from its amazing smell, the CS-X3 is a premium, gel-based car air freshener that can be refilled using cartridges. Adjustable vents let you control the intensity of the scent, while a sticky pad allows it to be placed almost anywhere in your vehicle.

How long it lasts will mostly depend on how wide you open the container’s vents. Keeping them wide open will give you 2-3 weeks-worth of fragrance, while having them partially closed can add several more weeks of use.

It’s worth pointing out that exposing the CS-X3 air freshener to direct sunlight will cause it to dissipate faster than expected, so you might want to place it under a car seat. Also, the refillable cartridges can be a little pricey.

Things We Like

  • Pleasant, intoxicating smell
  • Effectively removes odors
  • Intensity of the scent can be adjusted
  • Easy-to-install, can be placed anywhere

What We Don’t Like

  • Refillable cartridges can be pricey

Bottom Line

This car air freshener from Japan has a unique sweet scent that most people love, one that will surely get you compliments. CHECK LATEST PRICE

5. Little Trees Car Air Freshener

Little Trees Car Air Freshener is proof that you don’t need something fancy to get stellar results. This iconic product has been around since 1952 and its original design hasn’t changed much over the decades due to its effectiveness at removing bad odors.

These dangling little bundles of fragrance pack quite a wallop despite their small size and come in 40 different scents, though ‘Black Ice’ seems to be the most popular. You simply hang one up on your rearview mirror and leave it to work its magic.

A common complaint is that they don’t last nearly as long as other car air fresheners. However, since they are extremely affordable and are sold in large packs, replacing them as their fragrance wears out won’t leave a gaping hole in your wallet. 

In fact, an entire 24-pack can last you well over a year if carefully used.

Things We Like

  • Large variety of scents to choose from
  • Small and space-efficient
  • Easy to set up
  • Very affordable

What We Don’t Like

  • Doesn’t last long

Bottom Line

Little Trees Car Air Freshener has been around almost for as long as cars have been because it’s a tried and tested product that does a great job of combating bad odors at a very affordable price. CHECK LATEST PRICE

6. Anzazo Car Essential Oil Diffuser

Our pick for the sixth-best car air freshener is the Anzazo Car Essential Oil Diffuser, and one thing that will impress you about this product is its form factor. It comes as a small, elegantly-styled stainless-steel locket that contains a pad designed to absorb several drops of an essential oil of your choosing. 

You pin the locket to any of your car’s vents and let the air from the HVAC system disperse the fragrance throughout the interior.

There are several advantages to this novel design. First, instead of coming with a scent that you may or may not like, it lets you decide on the fragrance that you want and gives you the freedom to switch between different fragrances at any time.

Second, essential oils are plant-derived and, therefore, natural, so you don’t have to worry about harsh or synthetic chemicals causing harm to you, your passengers, or your pets.

The only glaring issue with the Anzazo Car Essential Oil Diffuser is that you can’t adjust the opening of the locket to control how much of the scent is released. Also, as possibly the best luxury car air freshener vent clip, it’s pretty expensive.

Things We Like

  • Natural, chemical-free
  • Let’s you choose your own scent
  • Very elegant design
  • Easy-to-install

What We Don’t Like

  • Expensive

Bottom Line

The Anzazo Air Freshener lets you use your own essential oils to neutralize bad smells in style. CHECK LATEST PRICE

7. PURGGO Bamboo Charcoal Car Air Freshener

Marketed as the longest-lasting car air freshener, the PURGGO Car Air Freshener uses 100 percent bamboo charcoal to eliminate (not mask) bad odors at the source.

As we pointed out in our review of the Moso Natural Air Purifying Bag, bamboo charcoal is a natural odor absorber and neutralizer that traps troublesome odor particles and moisture molecules. The charcoal is able to dump these particles and molecules when placed outside and exposed to the sun’s UV rays, freeing up room and allowing it to be reused. 

PURGGO says you can get over 365 days’ worth of odor-absorption if you take the time to routinely ‘reactivate’ the charcoal by putting it under direct sunlight, though we can see this being a hassle for some people.

Since the bamboo charcoal doesn’t carry a fragrance or contain chemicals, it’s safe for people and pets alike.

This car odor eliminator is designed to be mounted behind your front seat using the headrest. However, it’s a bit large and conspicuous for a car air freshener and may not jive well with the look of your interior.

Things We Like

  • Eliminates odors at the source
  • Completely natural
  • Fragrance-free and chemical-free, non-allergenic
  • Very long-lasting

What We Don’t Like

  • Large and conspicuous
  • Reactivating the charcoal for reuse can be a hassle

Bottom Line

PURGGO’s best car deodorizer is a fragrance-free, completely natural car air freshener that eliminates bad odors with extreme prejudice. CHECK LATEST PRICE

8. Yankee Candle Car Jar Ultimate Hanging Air Freshener

If strong fragrances give you headaches or other ailments, a product like the Yankee Candle Car Jar Ultimate Hanging Air Freshener may just be what the doctor ordered. It has a subtle scent that won’t overwhelm your nose every time you hop into your car.

This air freshener comes in a variety pack with several different scents, allowing you to change things up should one scent become boring. Setting it up is easy, as it only requires you to remove the little jar from its plastic wrapping and hang it from your rearview mirror.

Its mini candle design gives it a nice aesthetic, while its small size means it won’t take up a lot of space in your vehicle or obstruct your view.

Despite having a subtle scent, Yankee Candle’s best car air freshener does a good job neutralizing bad odors. However, it might be a little too weak to mask very stubborn smells.

Things We Like

  • Pleasant, non-overpowering scent
  • Comes with a variety of different scents
  • Easy to set up, space-efficient
  • Mini candle design looks nice

What We Don’t Like

  • Scent may be too light to mask intense odors

Bottom Line

If you have a sensitive nose that is easily overwhelmed by strong fragrances, consider getting Yankee Candle’s Car Jar Ultimate Hanging Air Freshener. CHECK LATEST PRICE

9. Ozium Smoke & Odors Eliminator Gel Car Air Freshener

This odor-eliminator is primarily designed to treat bad smells in small spaces, making it well suited for cars, SUVs, trucks, and other vehicle types. It is a gel-based air freshener that uses a patented formula to remove troublesome odors and replace them with a cleaner, more pleasant smell. 

The Ozium Smoke & Odors Eliminator is widely known for its ability to tackle cigarette smoke and other tough odors. It has a set-it-and-forget-it design with a twist top that allows you to control how much scent is emitted.

Its small form factor and sticky peel-off bottom allow it to be placed just about anywhere in your car such as under a car seat, inside a cupholder, or in another inconspicuous spot, as well as on certain surfaces.

The package includes four gel packs, divided equally between two different scents, all of which do a good job of neutralizing unpleasant odors. 

Not everyone will like the scents, and some users have complained that they don’t last very long. Even so, this is a great, easy-to-use car odor eliminator that will keep your car smelling fresh for at least several weeks if you keep the container’s vent holes partially (not fully) opened.

Things We Like

  • Effectively eliminates cigarette smoke
  • Comes with a variety of scent gels
  • Scent can be adjusted
  • Simple to set up

What We Don’t Like

  • May be less effective with larger vehicles
  • Doesn’t last long

Bottom Line

If your car often smells like an ashtray, look into getting the Ozium Smoke & Odors Eliminator Car Air Freshener. CHECK LATEST PRICE

10. Chemical Guys New Car Scent Air Freshener

Like Meguiar’s, Chemical Guys is a popular car accessories brand that finds its way on many of our lists of best car detailing products. As the name suggests, its New Car Scent Air Freshener is intended to make your car smell like it just rolled off the dealer’s lot.

This premium spray is formulated with natural enzymes that break down odor-causing molecules. It also boasts unique fragrances engineered to deliver that cool “new car” smell that just about everyone loves.

Like Meguiar’s Whole Car Air Re-Fresher, it is a spray-and-forget type of air freshener. Chemical Guys says all you need is one spray to deodorize a full-size vehicle, and the solution can be diluted up to two gallons of distilled water to make it last longer. 

The scent itself lasts several weeks, which is on the short end. Also, some users say it doesn’t quite deliver a new car smell, while others found it too overpowering.

While perhaps not the best luxury car air freshener as Chemical Guys probably hoped for, it is nevertheless one of the best options available.

Things We Like

  • Smell just like a new car
  • Enzymatic formula breaks down odor-causing molecules
  • Easy-to-apply

What We Don’t Like

  • May not deliver the new car smell
  • Doesn’t last long
  • Scent may be overpowering

Bottom Line

No matter the age of your car, Chemical Guys’ new car smell air freshener will make it smell newer. CHECK LATEST PRICE

Car Air Freshener Buying Guide

best car air freshener in a jar

There are so many car air freshener products on the market that finding a good one can seem like looking for a needle in a haystack. It doesn’t have to be. 

We put together this detailed, expert researched buying guide to provide prospective buyers like yourself all the information they need to easily find the best car air freshener for eliminating bad odors and improving their vehicle’s aroma.

What Is A Car Air Freshener?

Like the air freshener you use in your home, car air fresheners are aromatic products designed to neutralize or eliminate unpleasant odors in enclosed spaces, replacing them with a more pleasant smell. They come in different shapes, sizes, and form factors.

Hanging cardboard air fresheners are probably the most common, but many models come as aerosol sprays, plug-ins, oil diffusers, vent sticks, oil wicks, and even charcoal air purifying bags.

Fun Fact: Little Trees’ pine-tree-shaped cardboard air freshener was the first air freshener developed specifically for cars. Created in 1952 by Canadian chemist Julius Sämann, the product was so well-designed and so useful that its basic design has remained largely unchanged for over 60 years.

Benefits Of Car Air Fresheners

A car air freshener can benefit you in more ways than you probably realize. Here are three key advantages of having one in your car…

Eliminate Lingering Odors

If you use your car regularly, you’re going to eventually dump, spill, and splatter a few things inside, and the resulting odor won’t always be pleasant. Fortunately, a good car air freshener can solve this problem.

Cigarette smell? Pet odors? A smelly friend? The best car freshener can help mask or eliminate those smells, making your interior a more comfortable place for you and your passengers to spend some time. 

Fresh-Smelling Interior

Our cars, like our homes, could use a bit of refreshing from time to time; however, since the windows are rolled up most of the time, getting fresh air to circulate inside the interiors can be a challenge.

A car air freshener may be a way around this problem. In addition to potentially eliminating built-up odors, it will introduce a pleasant scent that should make your interior smell fresher without having to keep the windows down for extended periods.

Improve Your Mood

Getting stuck in grueling traffic can turn even the most patient driver into a raving maniac. If you’re someone who could use a little distressing during commutes or someone who simply enjoys aromatherapy, the pleasant scent of an air freshener can help improve your mood after a long hard day.

Improve Resale Value

When the time comes to sell your car, any lingering cigarette, mold, or pet odors can make getting a good price for it difficult. That’s because the person you sell the car to will have to spend extra money, time, and effort to remove the odors.

A car odor eliminator can be a small investment with a very big return. Removing the bad smell puts you in a better position to get more for your vehicle.

Note: To truly remove bad odors and improve the smell of your interior, a car air freshener should be used in conjunction with other cleaning products as part of a comprehensive car upholstery maintenance regimen. Check out our list of best car upholstery cleaners and leather conditioners.

Types of Car Air Fresheners

Automotive air fresheners come in many different forms, from simple scented cardboard pieces to sophisticated plug-in contraptions. There are six main types of car air fresheners, and they are as follows.

Scented Cardboard

Often found dangling from the rearview mirrors of cars, cardboard air fresheners are the simplest, most popular, and most affordable type of air freshener. These stylized pieces of cardboard are soaked in a scent that gradually releases into an enclosed space. 

Cardboard air fresheners pack a powerful scent despite their small size and are available in many different fragrances. However, these fragrances don’t last very long, at least not when compared to the other types of car air fresheners.

Natural (Bamboo Charcoal)

Along with air fresheners that use essential oils, this black lump of bamboo charcoal contained in a burlap or mesh sack is the only natural car air freshener you can get. The charcoal absorbs and traps odors, moisture, particles, and mildew to purify the air in your car.

Bamboo charcoal products tend to be more expensive than other types of fresheners, but they are among the longest-lasting car air fresheners due to their ability to be reused. They are the best air fresheners for odor elimination in cars.

Scented Gel

These car air fresheners use absorbent gel to neutralize bad odors and enhance the aroma of your car. The gel often comes in a resealable container and is meant to be placed in an inconspicuous area of your interior, such as inside a cup holder or under a seat.

Unlike the other types of air fresheners, the containers sometimes have adjustable settings that allow you to control and adjust how much scent is released. 

Plug-ins

Plug-ins air fresheners diffuse a mixture of fragrant oils. You plug them into your car’s power outlet, with the electricity heating the oils to release the fragrance into the air.

Plug-ins typically have the strongest scents and are a great option for eliminating stubborn odors. However, they can be a bit expensive.

Vent Clips

As suggested by their name, vent clip car air fresheners clip onto your car’s air vents, using the blown air to circulate the scent throughout the interior. This makes them one of the fastest-acting air fresheners.

These air freshener products tend to be sold in packs, allowing you to place one on each air vent in your car to instantly and evenly blanket your whole interior in a wonderful scent. Moreover, they are fairly affordable and can last for weeks or even years depending on the material used for the scent.

Spray

Whereas the other types of air fresheners are passive devices that steadily and continuously release a scent to deodorize your car, car air freshener sprays are a short-term option used on an as-needed basis. As with household aerosol sprays, you can spray as much or as little as needed. 

Car air freshener sprays work especially well on cloth upholstery and are absorbed easily by carpets. Unfortunately, they don’t last very long and need to be reapplied often for long-lasting results.

Top Car Air Freshener Brands

While there probably isn’t a single best car air freshener brand, Meguiar’s, Little Trees, Febreze, and Yankee Candle are by far the most popular. Why don’t you learn a little bit about each brand?

Meguiar’s

You’ll find that Meguiar’s ranks high in a number of our product review lists. That’s because the brand has been servicing the automotive industry with top-rate car accessories since 1901 and has long been associated with quality.

The Meguiar’s New Car Air Re-Fresher is possibly its best air freshener for car interiors, especially those with cloth upholstery.

Febreze

Here’s a fun fact: “Febreze” is a name you get when you combine the words “fabric” and “breeze.” The Procter & Gamble brand has been selling fabric refreshers since 1998 and has grown its lineup over the years to include a variety of household air fresheners, plug-in oils, odor-eliminating candles, and automotive air fresheners.

A set of Febreze Car Air Freshener Vent Clips can do wonders for the aroma of your car’s interior.

Little Trees

Little Threes is the granddaddy of all car air freshener brands and products. Developed in 1952, the pine tree-shaped scented cardboards that you see hanging from rearview mirrors were the first air fresheners specifically developed for cars.

The Little Trees Black Ice Air Freshener is a popular choice with motorists of all walks and one of our top picks.

Yankee Candle

Founded in 1969 and headquartered in Massachusetts, the Yankee Candle Company is best known for its line of quality scented candles, candleholders, and various other related accessories. It also makes dinnerware. 

What about car air fresheners, you ask? They excel in that area, as well, and you might be surprised at just how effective the Yankee Candle Car Jar Ultimate Hanging Air Freshener is at neutralizing bad odors and making your car smell better.

Ozium

A trusted brand for over 50 years, Ozium makes products that have been clinically proven to sanitize and freshen the air, be it in your home, office, or car. The same can’t be said about most competing products.

We especially like the Ozium S Regular Smoke & Odors Eliminator Gel, and you might too.

How To Choose The Best Car Air Freshener

Finding the best air freshener for your car will depend on several factors, with your personal preference being the most important. Let’s go over these factors so that you can shop with confidence. 

Effectiveness & Pleasantness

You want a car air freshener that delivers good results. But even more important than its effectiveness at removing bad smells, you must enjoy the scent it releases. 

After all, what good will the best car perfume do if it eliminates bad odors, but you can’t stand its scent? It should be noticeable but not overpowering or unpleasant to your nose.

Don’t buy or install any air freshener in your car unless you like its scent.

Type of Air Freshener

The different types of air fresheners can be designed to tackle different problems and, therefore, deliver different results. For instance, some eliminate odors, while others merely mask them with a pleasant fragrance.

Fortunately, you don’t have to pick one over the other — you can use multiple different kinds of air fresheners at the same time to reap both benefits. 

If you want to get rid of moisture, mold, and mildew in your car, a bamboo charcoal air freshener will allow you to do so more effectively than other fresheners. The charcoal eliminates the unpleasant odor by absorbing and trapping the troublesome particles in a natural, eco-friendly manner.

Cardboard fresheners, scented gels, vent diffusers, and sprays, on the other hand, are primarily designed to introduce a new, more pleasant smell into your vehicle and are available in hundreds of different scents.

Strength

Car odor eliminators come in a wide range of strengths, ranging from ones you can barely smell to others that some people may find too overpowering. Plug-in fresheners and oil diffusers typically have the most intense scents, while hanging cardboard air fresheners are usually the weakest. 

As with the fragrance itself, its potency is largely a personal preference. You know best what you like.

Container

Packaging is important. Many air fresheners, especially the gel variety, have very strong formulas that need to be properly contained at all times. Make sure the container is well-designed and supported so that it doesn’t easily break or topple over when you’re driving. 

Of course, where you place the air freshener is equally important. Avoid setting it up in places where it can be easily damaged, such as near your car’s heaters.

Lasting Power

You will find that the best car fresheners last around 7 days to weeks on the low end and years on the high end. Whatever product you end up choosing, make sure it lasts longer than a tank of gas.

The longer your car air freshener lasts, the less money you will have to spend on keeping your ride smelling nice and fresh.

Ease of Installation

The average driver is so distracted when behind them that the last thing he or she needs is another source of distraction. You should be able to set an air freshener and forget it so that you can focus on driving safely.

Indeed, you can expect the best air freshener for car interiors to be quick and easy to install or apply, and it won’t fall or topple over easily in regular driving conditions.

Ingredients

Car air fresheners are made from all manner of things, some hazardous. Bamboo charcoal air fresheners are completely natural and eco-friendly; however, many of the other types of air fresheners contain some potentially harmful chemicals.

Always check the list of ingredients to make sure your product doesn’t contain anything that can harm you, your children and pet, or the environment.

Using Car Air Fresheners Effectively 

best car air freshener blowing scent

Car air fresheners are one of the most affordable accessories you can get for a vehicle. However, just because they are expendable doesn’t mean you should squander them needlessly.

There are quite a few proven practices that will allow you to get the most out of your investment.

How Long Do Car Air Fresheners Last?

So, how long can you expect your car air freshener to last? It depends on several factors.

Air fresheners can last days, weeks, months, or even years depending on their type and the temperature of your vehicle. Take cardboard fresheners, for example — they have a very basic design and typically dissipate their fragrance in as little as 7 days, though some can last several weeks.

Gel fresheners last much longer, with most lasting anywhere from one to three months depending on how well you manage their use.

Bamboo charcoal fresheners don’t technically expire, making them one of the longest-lasting car air fresheners. That’s because the charcoal eliminates odor-causing moisture, mold, and mildew by absorbing and trapping them. The trapped particles can then be released using the sun’s UV rays to ‘recharge’ the charcoal for reuse. 

If your car interior isn’t particularly moldy, a quality bamboo charcoal car air freshener can last you two years.

As for air fresheners that use essential oils for their fragrance (plug-ins, air vent diffusers, etc.), their lasting power largely depends on the environment. Although they tend to last long, essential oils evaporate much more quickly in higher temperatures than they do in colder ones.

The neat thing about these types of air fresheners is that they are often designed as plug-in or vent clip diffusers that can be equipped with your own essential oils. In other words, they will last as long as you refill them or until their casing breaks.

How To Make Car Air Fresheners Last Longer

If you’re like most people, you like to get the most out of everything that you buy. Fortunately, there are some proven strategies that you can use to prolong the life of even the longest-lasting car air fresheners.

Cardboard Fresheners

Cardboard air fresheners are basically compressed paper that has been treated with a scented oil that gradually releases into an enclosed space when exposed to air. 

To make yours last longer, shield a part of the scented cardboard from the air by covering it with saran wrap. Once the unwrapped part has used up its scent, simply uncover and use the wrapped part for a second bout of freshness.

Bamboo Charcoal

Bamboo charcoal fresheners collect and trap odor-causing particles that surround them and are already one of the longest-lasting car air fresheners. To make this product last even longer, place the bagged charcoal outside under direct sunlight for 2 to 3 hours per side every 30 to 60 days. 

The sun’s UV rays will penetrate the bamboo charcoal to activate and expand its pores, allowing the trapped odors and particles to be released. This frees up space in the charcoal for more unwanted particles to be absorbed.

Gel Fresheners

Gel air fresheners work their magic using a formula composed of a gelling agent, a liquid base, a solvent, and a scent. The scent particles get suspended in the gel and are then dispersed into the air once the gel evaporates.

Reducing the gel’s rate of evaporation is the key to making this type of air freshener last longer, and doing so is quite easy since the containers of most gel fresheners have adjustable openings.

Partially closing the opening will reduce the amount of scent that is released; however, gel air fresheners pack such a wallop that the reduced intensity will likely not be an issue for you. If you need more fragrance, simply make the opening wider as the gel gradually dries up.

Car Air Freshener Tips

Good car air fresheners can do wonders for your vehicle’s interior aroma; however, they are not a miraculous product that can treat every unpleasant smell that might stricken your car. To get the best results, you need to play your part in eliminating the bad smells.

Covering Up vs. Eliminating Bad Odors

Many air fresheners don’t actually eliminate the unpleasant odors in your car. All they do is mask it.

If you’re dealing with a serious odor problem that won’t go away no matter how much fragrance you throw at it, your best bet is to find the source of the odor and remove it rather than cover it up.

Keep Your Car Clean

You probably didn’t know this, but getting yourself the best car freshener in the world won’t do much if you’ve turned your car into a garbage bin. In addition to thoroughly cleaning your interior on a regular basis, removing all trash, food items, or other odor-causing substances every time you exit the car will help ensure any fragrance you introduce won’t be overpowered.

To reduce odors that easily get trapped in the upholstery and carpets, vacuum regularly. Having a car vacuum cleaner and a small, portable trash can in your car at all times will make the cleaning process less of a hassle.

Keep Your Interior Dry 

Not only does moisture cause mold, mildew, and musty odors to form, but it also creates a rich environment for the bacteria responsible for them to multiply and spread. 

Keep your car dry by not leaving the windows open, and use spill-proof cups to prevent spills. Since floor mats easily collect and trap moisture, consider not using them in your car if possible.

Don’t Smoke In Your Car

Smoking in your car not only causes bad odors, but it might also ruin your car’s upholstery. Moreover, the nicotine and other smoke pollutants that are left behind can seriously harm any non-smoker that sits in your car.

Do your car, your passengers, and your air freshener a favor by not smoking in your car.

Beware Of Stinky Scams

If you’re buying a used car and notice that it’s covered with air fresheners, it might be a red flag. There is a good chance that the car in question has an underlying odor problem that necessitates so many air fresheners.

Best Car Air Freshener FAQs

Best car air freshener question driving symbol

When putting together our detailed car air freshener reviews and buying guide, we made sure to include all the information you need to find a good car air freshener for your vehicle.

If you didn’t have time to go through everything or if you couldn’t find the answer to an inquiry you had, the following FAQs about car air fresheners and the answers to them provide a summary of some of the major points we covered.

When Should I Change My Car Air Freshener?

It depends on the type of air freshener you have. However, as a general rule of thumb, change it when you can no longer smell its scent in your car.

Always read the manufacturer’s suggested usage before using any air freshener, and contact the company if you have any concerns.

Can A Car Air Freshener Trigger Allergies?

Yes. Research has shown that many, if not most, odor eliminators and air fresheners contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that can trigger allergies and cause other health issues such as headaches, nausea, neurological damage, and even cancer. 

If you experience any adverse health effects after introducing an air freshener into your vehicle, remove the freshener immediately, and refrain from using it again! Consider using negative ion-producing air fresheners or other non-artificial-scented products instead.

Can Car Air Fresheners Damage My Vehicle?

Unfortunately, liquid and gel car air fresheners are known to damage car upholstery if spilled. Specifically, they can leave a mark that’s difficult, if not impossible, to remove.

Most air freshening products come with a label highlighting the best ways to use them — read it! If an accident does occur, quickly blot the liquid or gel with a piece of absorbent material (tissue, microfiber cloth, etc.) and gently wipe the affected area with a cloth dipped in clean water.

Whatever you, DON’T scrub. Doing so will only cause the gel or liquid to penetrate your upholstery, making the situation worse.

Final Thoughts

Car air fresheners can be a godsend if your vehicle smells like a neglected garbage bin, but they should be relied upon exclusively to keep your interior smelling fresh. For them to work optimally, you must do your part to keep your car clean.

If you’re in the market for the best car freshener, you will be happy to know that there are many great options to choose from. We provided you with expert researched reviews and a comprehensive buying guide to make finding one easy.

Our pick for the best car air freshener is the Moso Natural Air Purifying Bag, a completely natural, long-lasting, and relatively affordable option that effectively eliminates bad odors instead of merely masking them. Meguiar’s Whole Car Air Re-Fresher is also an effective car odor eliminator and is our value pick.

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