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Best Car Air Fresheners

Keep your vehicle’s interior smelling sweet with one of the best car air fresheners.

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BYRebecca Henderson/ LAST UPDATED ON May 19, 2022

Does your car smell? If you’re looking to eliminate odor from your vehicle, take a look at our picks for the best car air freshener. Invest in one of these products to not only take care of that nasty aroma but also keep your car smelling fresh and new. That new car scent is only a click or two away.


No matter how careful you might be about keeping funky smells and terrible odors out of your car, every vehicle kind of develops its own unique fragrance over time. Sometimes stepping from the fresh outdoors and into your vehicle is enough to convince you that it’s time to invest in a decent car air freshener. Whether your interior has lost its new car scent, smells a bit stale, or is hanging onto lingering odors, there’s an air freshener that can eliminate the old and infuse a far more pleasant aroma. We’ve rounded up some of the best car air fresheners you can choose from right here.

Best Overall

Arotags Wooden Car Air Freshener

Summary
A U.S.-made product that includes 1.6 ounces of oil and an American flag-shaped air freshener. The scent is Backwoods Birch.
Pros
  • Designed to last for a year
  • No dangerous chemicals
  • Stylish-looking
Cons
  • The scent might be a little too sweet for some users
  • Might not last as long as advertised
  • Might not work as well in colder temperatures
Best Value

Meguiar’s Whole Car Air Re-Fresher Mist

Summary
Meguiar’s makes removing bad smells easy with a disposable can that sprays out an odor-eating mist to rid your car of the worst smells.
Pros
  • Removes bad odors in one step
  • Works quickly
  • Affordable price
Cons
  • Meant for only one use
  • Might need more than one to fully remove bad smells
Best Easy-to-Use

Febreze Freshener Clips

Summary
This set of five clips clamps easily onto any vent opening for a fresher car in just a few minutes. Choose from a variety of scents for a better-smelling interior.
Pros
  • Fastens securely to nearly any air vent
  • Multiple clips in one pack
  • No spills
Cons
  • Won’t necessarily remove the bad smell; masks odors
  • Other products might last longer
Best Car Air Fresheners

Our Methodology

In order to determine which car air fresheners are worth your time and investment, we set out to compare the many types of products available, all of which promise to refresh and cleanse your interior air. We considered details and features like the application method, type of air freshener, strength of fragrance, and whether or not a product could effectively eliminate odors. In order to assess how well each product tackled existing odors and kept cars smelling nice, we turned to users’ real-life experiences in the form of reviews. The car air fresheners that made our top picks were those that were easiest to use, the most effective, and didn’t add frustration or mess. 

Why Trust Us

Our reviews are driven by a combination of hands-on testing, expert input, “wisdom of the crowd” assessments from actual buyers, and our own expertise. We always aim to offer genuine, accurate guides to help you find the best picks.

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Best Car Air Freshener Reviews & Recommendations

Best Overall
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Specs

  • Product Type: Wooden oil diffuser
  • Lifespan: 12 months
  • Size: 1.6 ounces

Pros

  • Long-lasting, reusable design
  • Equals 50 disposable air fresheners
  • Free of harmful chemicals
  • Fragrance isn’t overwhelming

Cons

  • Fragrance may be too sweet
  • May not last a full year
  • Scent can weaken in cold weather

The Arotags Wooden Car Air Freshener is designed to provide a fresh aroma all year long. This particular scent, Backwoods Birch, is phthalate free and meant to evoke memories of woods and forests. The air freshener is simple to use. Add a few drops of oil onto the American flag-shaped air freshener every couple of weeks. Each kit comes with 1.6 ounces of oil and is designed to last for 12 months. This is the equivalent of 50 Little Trees air fresheners, according to the company. The oil doesn't contain dangerous chemicals, so breathing should be no problem in your vehicle's cabin. One of its best features is that you can smell the fragrance, but it isn't overbearing. Plus, it's stylish. Some users think it smells a little too sweet. Others complain that the scent doesn't last as long as the company promises, and it might not work as well in colder weather.

Specs

  • Product Type: Mist
  • Lifespan: About one month
  • Size: 2 ounces

Pros

  • Easy-to-use mist application
  • Dissolves odors at the molecular level
  • Comes in an array of scents
  • Lasts for up to a month

Cons

  • May take multiple cans if you have strong odors

Meguiar’s Whole Car Air Re-Fresher Mist solidified our pick for best value based on a number of reasons. Not only are you able to remove smells with one step, you can also buy this product in a variety of scents. Unlike other products that just remove bad smells, Meguiar’s sprays away the bad to replace it with new, better-smelling air. It’s a one-and-done type of product. The fine mist emitted will eat away at the bad odors causing you discomfort and replace them with whichever scent you choose. As long as the Re-Fresher can is centrally located within your vehicle, a single application should make a difference. There’s no need to place the product, so it won’t spill, and you don’t have to worry about replacing it a few months down the road. Depending on your vehicle’s size and the strength of the smells, you may need to purchase a few Re-Fresher cans to completely remove bad odors. However, any driver looking to refresh their car’s interior can use this product.
Easiest to Use
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Specs

  • Product Type: Vent clips
  • Lifespan: 150 days
  • Size: Five vent clips

Pros

  • Circulate fresh fragrance through your vents
  • Small and unobtrusive
  • Fit onto all car air vents

Cons

  • Doesn’t remove odors
  • Might not last very long

Febreze is a name we often associate with cleaning supplies, so it’s no wonder they’ve come up with a refreshing solution for your vehicle as well. The Febreze Air Freshener Clips also include a five-pack of air freshener vent clips that will fit in any vehicle’s air vents. Whether you turn on the heat or cool off with the air conditioning, these vent clips will continue to provide a fresh scent as you drive. The clips will release their scent as the air moves through them, so you won’t have to worry about spills. If one of the vent clips runs out, you can simply throw it away. Even though these vent clips cover a wide area, they may not last as long as other products. You should consider these Febreze clips to be a product that introduces a refreshing smell rather than something that removes unpleasant odors. You will still need to clean the vehicle to remove the cause of the bad smell.
Best Hanging
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Specs

  • Product Type: Hanging scented cardboard
  • Lifespan: About a month
  • Size: 7.3 inches tall

Pros

  • Six air fresheners for one price
  • Lasts for weeks at a time
  • Pleasant, woodsy fragrance
  • Releases scent with no effort

Cons

  • Scent can be potent if opened all at once

It's almost impossible to put together a car air freshener buying guide without including a Little Trees product. After all, it's one of the most popular air fresheners available. The Little Trees Car Air Freshener includes six air fresheners, so you can use them in multiple cars or save them to use when older ones lose their scent. The True North scent is inspired by Canada's mountainous region, and it's a U.S.-made product. According to some users, it smells like wintry pine. It's also been described as a masculine and luxurious scent. Overall, it works very well and can last for weeks. The smell can be a little too powerful if you open the entire package at once. You may want to just open a corner section and let the aroma slowly escape the package. It’s important to read the instructions before putting it in your vehicle.
Best for Smokers
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Specs

  • Product Type: Gel
  • Lifespan: About a month
  • Size: 4.5 ounces

Pros

  • Effective enough to tackle cigarette odor
  • Twist cap allows you to adjust the fragrance for your preferences
  • Spill-proof
  • Fits anywhere inside your car

Cons

  • Small size may be less effective than larger options
  • Some users may not like the scent

The Ozium Smoke and Odors Eliminator is designed for small spaces such as a car, SUV, or truck. It's made with a patented formula that removes foul smells. You can place it wherever you want, such as under the passenger seat. It features a twist top, so you can control the level of scent that's emitted. It's also designed to suck up cigarette smoke. The product is 4.5 ounces and small enough to hide. You can place it in your cup holder or in the compartment under the radio. It also has a peel-off bottom, so you can stick it onto some types of surfaces. This kit comes with two outdoor essences and two original-scent gel packs. It's not a floral or fruity scent but smells clean and does a good job of eliminating unwanted odors. It may not be as effective, however, as the larger, eight-ounce option. There have been some complaints that the scent doesn't last very long, and some users don't like the fragrance.
Best Charcoal
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Specs

  • Product Type: Charcoal bag
  • Lifespan: Two Years
  • Size: 200 grams (each bag)

Pros

  • Easy to use
  • Pack of five for car and home
  • Hooks included
  • Long lifespan

Cons

  • Requires regular recharging
  • Doesn’t emit a scent

We like the convenience of the Comfy Mate charcoal bags, which efficiently eliminate odors from your vehicle. Available in a pack of five with several steel hooks, you can place these bags in various areas of your car or truck. Made of bamboo charcoal, they last for about two years as long as you "recharge" them every month or so by setting them out in the sun for a couple of hours. They remove musty smells and absorb other types of odors you may incur in your vehicle. We like these bags because they don't emit any type of scent–they simply remove unwanted aromas — which can be helpful for people with sensitive noses. And since you get five backs in the package, you can place them in more than one vehicle and/or in your home. There are few downsides with this product. However, you must remember to recharge them regularly, and while they eliminate odors they don't emit a feel-good scent as some other products do.
Best Concentrated
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Specs

  • Product Type: Liquid
  • Lifespan: Weeks
  • Size: 16 ounces

Pros

  • Strong, concentrated formula you can dilute to your liking
  • Can tackle mild moldy odors
  • Lasts five times longer than a traditional car air freshener
  • Water-based

Cons

  • Fragrance can be unpleasant for some
  • May mask some odors instead of eliminating

The Chuy Bubble Gum Air Freshener is long lasting and designed to eliminate odors and minimize recurring offensive smells. The biggest benefit of this product is that it smells like bubble gum, so don't be surprised if it brings back childhood memories. It's a popular product among auto detailers as well as homeowners and house cleaners. The concentrated formula takes advantage of enzymes to eliminate and reduce odor. It's water based, so it won't harm upholstery or carpets. According to Chemical Guys, it lasts five times longer than traditional car air fresheners, and the scent lasts for several weeks. The bottle is sturdy, and it does a good job of removing mild moldy smells in your vehicle. Unfortunately, if you don't like the smell of bubble gum, you won't like this product. Some users also complain that it masks smells more than eliminates them.
Best Natural
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Specs

  • Product Type: Hanging charcoal
  • Lifespan: 12 months
  • Size: 13.58 x 5.31 x 1.57 inches

Pros

  • Long-lasting odor elimination
  • Low maintenance
  • Spill-proof
  • All natural with no chemicals

Cons

  • Has to be reactivated in sunlight regularly
  • Won’t work on cigarette odors or smoke
  • Might not be as effective in cold weather

The Purggo Car Air Freshener is a fragrance-free deodorizer and neutralizer made with 100 percent bamboo charcoal, a natural odor absorber. It's a great air freshener alternative for those with allergies, asthma, or other breathing conditions. Unlike some air fresheners that cover up odors, this product traps them in the charcoal and removes them. While many air fresheners work for six weeks or less, this works for 12 months and doesn't require expensive refills. It's also eco-friendly because bamboo is a renewable natural resource. Once it stops working, you can use it as a plant fertilizer. Simply mount it behind the car seat and forget about it. It also doesn't emit a floral or offensive fragrance. This product, however, needs to be reactivated in the sun every once in a while, which can be a hassle. It may also not work as well in colder weather, and it may not do a good job of reducing cigarette odors.
Best Dual Scent
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Specs

  • Product Type: Vent clip
  • Lifespan: Weeks
  • Size: Six sticks per pack

Pros

  • Two pleasant fragrances in one
  • Combats and eliminates odors while it works
  • Sticks right onto all car vents
  • Fragrance is light, not overpowering

Cons

  • Only lasts a few weeks

Best No-Maintenance
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Specs

  • Product Type: Solid gel
  • Lifespan: 60 days
  • Size: 1.5 ounces

Pros

  • Lasts for two months
  • Comes in recyclable packaging
  • Small enough to be stored anywhere
  • Solid and spill-proof

Cons

  • Doesn’t eliminate odors
  • Fragrance can be too overwhelming for some

If you don’t want to fuss with any messy, complicated air-freshener products, the California Scents Air Freshener is exactly what you need. All you have to do is pop the can top on this solid air freshener, let it sit, and it’ll work without needing any intervention on your part. A single 1.5-ounce can will work to emit a fragrance, and it’ll work for up to 60 days. You can stash this can in a cup holder, under a seat, or even in the back seat to get rid of any lingering smells. As an added bonus, it comes in a recyclable container so you can be kind to the environment once the product has tackled its fragrant work. The only potential drawback to this car air freshener is it doesn’t promise to eliminate odors, so don’t expect it to eliminate pet odors and other messes. Additionally, for some drivers, certain fragrances may be too strong.

Our Verdict on Car Air Fresheners

The Arotags Wooden Car Air Freshener ranked highest as our pick for the best car air freshener overall. Affordable and long-lasting, this wooden option is a no-brainer for your nose. Choose Meguiar’s Whole Car Air Re-Fresher Mist if you’re looking for a value pick. Although it’s a one-time use freshener, it’s a powerful solution for bad odors.

Which car air fresheners do you prefer? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.

What to Consider When Buying a Car Air Freshener

It can be difficult to determine which car air fresheners are worth investing in. We’ve got your guide to picking out a quality air freshener that actually works, keeping your car odor-free and smelling pleasant.

Types of Car Air Fresheners

Scented Cardboard

One of the most common types of air fresheners, they typically hang on a string from the rearview mirror, releasing your favorite scent as they dangle. They’re not necessarily as long lasting as other types of car air fresheners, although some offer the ability to renew the scent via essential oils. These types of car air fresheners are also one of the cheapest to buy.

Natural (bamboo charcoal)

There’s an old wives’ tale that says you can put a bowl full of coffee beans in an odorous vehicle to soak up the stench. Whether or not that’s true, there are other natural ways to remove odors. The most common is to use bamboo charcoal to capture the smell. These premium air fresheners come in a burlap or mesh sack and often last longer than other types of car air fresheners.

Absorbent gel

As the name suggests, this type of car air freshener uses absorbent gel to remove bad smells. The gel comes packaged in a resealable container and works much like putting a box of baking soda in your fridge. Gel car air fresheners are meant to be placed beneath a seat or within a cup holder so they are unnoticeable. Many containers will have an adjustable setting to allow for prolonged use.

Spray

There are a variety of products meant to deodorize household rooms, and the car air freshening spray is just an extension of this same idea. Car air freshening sprays typically come in a multitude of scents and allow you to spray as little or as much as you want. These sprays work best on cloth interiors and typically absorb well into carpets.

Vent clips

An innovative way of dispersing scent, car air fresheners that clip onto your vehicle’s air vents provide odor relief within seconds. Cars that are particularly stinky will benefit from these types of air fresheners as they typically come in packs of multiple products. Place one vent clip in each air vent across your dashboard, and even in the second-row vents, for a blanketed approach. After they’ve stopped releasing a scent, you can simply unclip them and throw them away. 
Car Air Freshener Pricing 

Most car fresheners found at an auto parts store will be anywhere from $1 to $5, depending on the brand. Typically, these products will be scented cardboard that slowly releases scent over time. These air fresheners won’t last the longest but are inexpensive. If you’re looking for car vent clips or even a couple of hanging car air fresheners, budget $11 to $20 for a pack of anywhere from two to five products. 

FAQs 

You’ve got questions. The Drive has answers.

Q: How long will my car air freshener last?

A: Depending on what type of air freshener you purchase, the product will last anywhere from a few weeks to about two years. Check the packaging for the products you’re considering. Oftentimes, manufacturers will list how long the product will last. If you invest in something like car air freshener gel or a similar product that releases a scent, the lifetime of that product can depend on the climate, how often you drive, and other factors.

Q: How often should I change my car air freshener?

A: The best rule of thumb for air fresheners is to change them when you no longer notice their scent. For example, if you remove a vent clip from your vehicle and sniff it, does it still give off the intended scent? If so, it’s still working.

Q: Will installing a car air freshener irritate my allergies?

A: Car air fresheners can irritate your allergies, so be cautious when making a purchase. If you know you’re allergic to most floral scents, for example, stay away from them. There are various alternative non-artificial-scented products on the market (such as the negative ion-producing air fresheners).

Q: How do car air fresheners differ from enzymes?

A: Car air fresheners work to reduce and/or remove bad odors from your vehicle. Enzymes, on the other hand, are used in order to remove mold or other hazardous contaminants that are the cause of such bad smells. Many vehicles that have been flooded benefit from an enzyme treatment. Car air fresheners should be used to maintain a good scent that’s already been established.

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