LAST UPDATED: June 27, 2019
Best Car Diffusers and Essential Oils: Keep Your Car Smelling Fresh
Here are some car aromatherapy diffusers that are great for freshening up your car's interior
The Review Team
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PUBLISHED ON June 27, 2019
Your car has a lot going on inside of it. Over time, the interior can start to retain the smells from wet clothes, mud, or even pet hair. Luckily, there are plenty of options when it comes to scent diffusers that can eliminate these unwanted odors. Below are our top choices for refreshing your vehicle.
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Benefits of Car Diffusers
- Eliminating odor. The best part of having a diffuser in your car is eliminating unwanted smells in the interior. You won't have to worry about any embarrassing scents if you have passengers, and your car will feel fresher every time you get in it.
- Aromatherapy. Many travel diffusers use essential oils to enhance the smell of your vehicle. Some of these oils have added benefits like stress relief. Imagine starting your day with a mood-improving therapeutic drive to work.
- Humidifier. Automatic diffusers have the added bonus of also working as humidifiers. This can improve the air quality of your vehicle's cabin and save you from dry weather.
- Efficiency. The biggest drawback to old school air fresheners is how long they last. Before you know it, you won't even notice they're doing anything. Diffusers eliminate this problem as they continually provide a refreshing and long lasting scent.
Types of Car Diffuser
A common type of car diffuser is one that you clip onto the air vents in your car. These typically use essential oils that slowly dissipate as you use the heat or air conditioning in your vehicle. There are different types, such as clips that use pads that soak in the oils or devices that have a refillable reservoir. Typically these last longer than other diffusers but can be less effective.
The increasingly popular plug-in diffusers are another option. These devices can plug into either the power point (cigarette lighter) or USB ports in your vehicle. Some diffusers will use a combination of water and oils, while others may just use the oils, but both types send mist into the air at varying speeds. These typically have added benefits like doubling as a humidifier or having LED lights.
Rechargeable diffusers are similar in design to plug-in models. The obvious difference is that they do not require to be plugged in at all times. These come with their own drawbacks, like battery life. However, a benefit to these models is versatility in where you can keep them in your vehicle.
This once-small Ohio based company specializes in designing convenient diffusers for many different uses. Now, with more than a decade of experience, Greenair has gained popularity and produces unique products such as the Carbreeze.
HOUSWEETY is a jewelry and clothing company based in Hong Kong. After five years of OEM experience, it started to branch out into different consumer markets. The company produces a popular Vent Clip Diffuser that comes in a plethora of styles and colors.
InnoGear is a market-leading manufacturer of diffusers and LED lighting. The company's Cup Holder Aromatherapy Diffuser and Ultrasonic Portable Diffuser are great options for simple diffusers. It also owns a company called Onepure, which produces the essential oil refills for their products.
In 2011, ZAQ was founded to create diffusers with all natural ingredients. While the market was focused on chemical-based scents, ZAQ was investing in the best essential oil diffuser air fresheners for cars. The end result is great products like the Litemist Car Diffuser.
Car Diffuser Pricing
- Under $20: Car diffusers come in a variety of different shapes and sizes. The least expensive types are typically rearview mirror hangers and vent clips. Since these products don't need to be plugged in, they are a cheaper and easier option compared to USB diffusers.
- Over $20: The higher-priced car fragrance diffusers are usually USB models. These products require electricity to generate mist. Some are rechargeable, while others run continuously off of your vehicle's USB or power point plugs.
Every car diffuser uses essential oils. This is what produces the scent and other aromatherapy benefits. Without it, your diffuser isn't going to do much good. Products that come with essential oils save you the time and hassle of buying them separately. Plus, buying them as one big kit will most likely be a cheaper option.
If you're using an electric diffuser, you’ll want one that has different modes or speeds. Everybody is different, so you may wish to adjust the amount of essential oil that is emitted from your diffuser. Also, diffusers that run continuously are going to run out of oil much faster. Having an intermittent speed can save you oil and money.
Electric travel diffusers will eventually run out of essential oil. A device with an auto shut-off will save you the hassle of checking it yourself. Needing to turn off or unplug a device while driving can be dangerous, and depending on where you have it located, you may not even notice when it is empty. A diffuser that keeps running once it is empty will not only waste energy but also can be a fire hazard.
- Travel Time: How long your road trips tend to be is a big factor in what type of diffuser you want. If you're just looking to improve your regular commute to work, most of them will last long enough. Longer road trips, however, might be better suited for vent clips.
- Interior Space: Some diffusers require a certain amount of space. If you often fill both cup holders, or your car has really shallow cup holders, then diffusers that need to sit in a cup holder might not be the right choice for you.
- Ports and Outlets: While plug-in diffusers have some great benefits, they aren't going to do you much good if you do not have the proper ports to plug them in. Some devices require USB ports, some need power points, and also be aware of how long the cords are.
Best Car Diffuser Reviews & Recommendations 2020
This unique and stylish car fragrance diffuser is one of the best plugin options available. The most noticeable feature with the InnoGear diffuser is the LED lighting. There are seven different color options to relieve fatigue (you can also use it without the lights if you prefer).
This BPA-free product holds water in its reservoir and only requires a few drops of essential oil to keep your car smelling fresh for hours. There are two modes: intermittent, which will last about six hours, and continuous, which will last approximately three hours. It also has an auto-off feature for when the water runs out. Even though it's designed to fit in your cup holder, this travel-size essential oil diffuser can be used anywhere you have a USB plug.
Despite being an excellent portable diffuser, this product isn't perfect for every driver. The InnoGear essential oil diffuser does not come with any essential oils, so you have to buy them separately. This device is larger than other options, and if you do not have deep enough cup holders, then you risk having the diffuser tip and spill.
Drivers who are looking for an inexpensive yet effective product should check out these scented oil diffuser car air fresheners. The RoyAroma vent clip diffusers are discrete and incredibly long lasting. The inner pad requires a few drops of essential oil, and they can leave your car smelling fresh for about a week.
This set comes with two uniquely designed stainless steel lockets and 12 felt pads that work as a holder for essential oils. The product is completely hypoallergenic and can be used with any scented liquids. An added bonus of these car essential oil diffusers is that they don't use water, so there's no clean up required.
While this car diffuser kit is a great deal, it may not be ideal for everyone. These diffusers aren't as efficient if you don't have your heat or AC running in the car. Essential oils are not included with the vent clips. The essential oils can also dissipate quickly, which will cause you to add more on a regular basis.
Drivers who are looking for an effective diffuser that’s available at a reasonable price point should take a look at the econoLED Car Humidifier. It plugs directly into a vehicle’s 12-volt port and works for a full two hours. This diffuser features a subtle design and powerful humidifying abilities. It works with any water-soluble essential oil to overhaul your car’s air quality. You can rotate the head to direct the scent or use your vehicle’s air vent system to evenly distribute the oils.
It comes as a single plugin with a conservatively sized water tank. The diffuser is made of a sturdy polymer that is safe when heated. To prevent the risk of overheating, this diffuser has a feature that automatically shuts off after two hours. It rids the air of bacteria and smoke particulate and coats your surroundings in the essential oil of your choosing.
While this car diffuser comes at a great price point, it is a smaller model than some. This means that it may not last as long as others, but it does let you change out your scents more frequently. Because it is compact, the scent diffuses fairly quickly. You can use it as a standalone humidifier or with oils.
The Epoch Making USB Car humidifier comes in a compact, lightweight structure. It has a sleek black design with an LED light for night driving. Operating in virtual silence, the petite humidifier has a sizable water compartment. This, coupled with a strong heater, creates a powerful humidifying effect to thoroughly address any air pollution issues in your vehicle.
With a container that holds 200 milliliters of fluid, it takes just under 10 hours of full power for the scent to diffuse. You can extend this time if you use the intermittent feature to spray out scent occasionally. After you’ve emptied the container, you can change out the oil. The light changes colors, so you can adjust the ambiance to your preferences.
For safety, the system will automatically stop after 4.5 hours or if the water runs dry. Though it is a desirable diffuser, it can take a while to get a new scent since the compartment is large. It’s best suited to larger vehicles because in smaller areas it may be overpowering.
This device is a truly multipurpose option. You can use the YJY diffuser system in your vehicle, office, or home. In the car, it works almost silently even though it employs high-tech sonic features to aggressively manage particles in the air. It creates easy-to-breathe air on its own; however, with essential oils, the effects are more immediately apparent.
It fits easily into your vehicle’s cup holder for secure placement as you drive. You can plug it into the USB system in your car or use an adapter for your 12-volt port. You simply fill it with 270 milliliters of water and essential oils. From there, it warms up quickly and you can get several hours of diffusion from the system before it needs a change.
One small downside is that it takes space in your cup holders. Since the diffuser needs to be upright this can preclude you from other conveniences. However, if you are driving by yourself (or have extra drink placement in your vehicle), this is a great selection.
These car diffuser lockets are made of high-quality materials and are so compact they can go anywhere. Unlike other models that double as a humidifier, these diffusers focus entirely on essential oils. The unit comes with two vent clips, each with the pattern of a tree on the front. You simply attach them to your car’s vent system. When the air is running, it pushes the scent throughout the vehicle.
On the inside of the locket, there’s a green felt pad. You remove the pad from the locket, add your essential oils, and replace the pad. This holds the oil in place and lets the scent diffuse over time. It’s easy to clean and maintain the lockets between uses. To prevent scent overlap, you simply wipe down the unit with an alcohol swab and let it dry. With proper upkeep, the diffuser will last a long time.
One thing to keep in mind is that the pads are single use. This means that once the scent is gone, you must replace the pad on the locket’s interior. That said, the unit comes with a full 30 pads, so you will be set for (at least) several months.
This stylish essential oil diffuser sits snugly in your vehicle’s cup holder. It requires no attention, so you can easily place it in the front or back seat. The diffuser operates in silence, adding humidity balanced with your choice of essential oils. With a blue light ideal for nighttime identification yet noiseless commands, it’s ideal for driving at any time.
The diffuser holds 150 milliliters of fluid in its medium-sized water compartment. It incorporates ultrasonic technology to improve your vehicle’s overall air quality. In terms of safety, the diffuser features an automatic shutoff component when it’s dry. This prevents the risk of overheating and avoids damage to both the diffuser and your car. With dual misting modes, you can choose the intensity of the diffuser’s performance.
However, when you opt to have the mist come out non-stop, it does run out quickly. All this means is that you must refill the unit with water (and oil). So, if you keep filtered water and oil nearby, this offers a virtually endless misting opportunity for your vehicle.
This oil diffuser comes with an easy plugin that runs off of your vehicle’s power. You simply insert it into your car’s 12-volt adapter and it starts efficiently cleaning (and scenting) the air. It sends out a cool mist that tackles dryness and rids your air of dust. With a button command feature, you can change modes to determine how powerful the mist is. Since it features a rotating head, you can easily direct the aroma wherever you choose.
You can fill the water compartment with tap or purified water and it only requires a couple of drops of oil. It’s made of thick polymer to resist heat and prevent any risk of damage from water. The unit, for safety, automatically shuts off after two hours of misting. It’s stylish and functional, coming in several different color accents ranging from blue to purple.
One downside of the compact design is that it runs out quickly. However, if you are sticking to one scent and have fluid for refills, this isn’t an issue. The diffuser is sturdy, so it will last for the long haul but it does require cleaning to ensure optimal performance.
- Different essential oils and diffusers with ambient lighting are great for late-night drives. Certain scents can help keep you alert and different color lights are helpful to prevent falling asleep at the wheel.
- If you have an older vehicle with shallow cup holders, be aware of plug-in diffusers that sit in the cupholder. It is possible for these to tip and spill.
- Be careful about leaving a car diffuser plugged in when your car is off. If it doesn't have an automatic shut-off, you could potentially drain your battery.
- Some essential oils can help alleviate motion sickness. Peppermint and ginger scents are great to help drivers or passengers who get car sick.
- You can get essential oils that help make you feel cooler on hot summer days. While you're waiting for the AC to power up, try eucalyptus, mint, or grapefruit scented oils.
Q: What are essential oils?
A: Pure essential oils are non-synthetic oils made from plants, roots, and herbs. They are used in a plethora of capacities from medicine to air fresheners.
Q: How long do diffusers last?
A: This depends on what type of diffuser you are using. Plug-in diffusers run out of oil quicker, especially if you use a continuous mist setting. Vent clip diffusers last longer but require you to have the air on in your vehicle.
Q: Do all diffusers use water?
A: No. There are several different ways that a diffuser can use essential oils. Water is the most common method. These devices will have a reservoir filled with water and only require a few drops of oil. Other devices, though, can use felt pads to hold oils or just pure essential oils with no dilution.
The InnoGear USB Car Essential Oil Diffuser is the best choice for drivers who are looking for a USB car diffuser.
If you’re shopping for a less expensive alternative, the RoyAroma Vent Aromatherapy Diffuser pack gives you the most for your money.