One of the most underrated things about getting a new car is that elusive new car smell. It’s hard to pinpoint why that scent is so alluring, but one thing is for sure: it doesn’t last forever.
Eventually, life happens, and your car will eventually lose that scent to a combination of other smells, whether it’s smoke, ozone, spilled drinks, food, pets, or pretty much anything else.
Car air fresheners are an obvious solution that can help you do everything from providing a more pleasant smell and environment in your car, to neutralizing odors with a faint, fresh scent. You certainly have plenty of choices depending on your preference.
With so many different choices and types, it can be hard to find the best air freshener for car that you actually need. So, we’ve done the work for you and prepared this best car air freshener reviews list by analyzing a number of different products.
We found that DollarScent Premium has stood out as the best air freshener for car that you can get. It has everything a car air freshener must have. But despite that, if DollarScent doesn’t match up to your expectations, try Chemical Guys Air Freshener, a great alternative that treats the stuffy air well and stays long.
Types of Car Air Fresheners
Car air freshener types can be broken down into a few different categories.
Benefits of Car Air Fresheners
The advantages a car air freshener provides should be fairly obvious. Depending on which one you get, you can restore that long gone new car smell, mask unpleasant smells, or simply add your own personal scent choice to the interior, helping improve the feel and environment when inside.
How to Choose the Right Air Freshener?
Car air fresheners aren’t exactly complicated, but there are still some things you can consider beforehand to ensure you get the one that’s best air freshener for your car.
10 Best Air Freshener For Car
Chemical Guys Air Freshener
Febreze Hawaiian Aloha
30 Days Per Clip
Arotags Cool Breeze
Little Trees Black Ice
ARAPLUS Car Freshener
Ozium Car Freshener
Bullsone Car Air Purifier
DollarScent may be borrowing their concept from the iconic Little Trees brand, but they do it very well. These little cardboard air freshener scent opt for a small circular design instead, which is a little more inconspicuous than Little Tree products. They are noticeable, but far from distracting or tacky.
You get quite a few choices with DollarScent, ranging from Black Ice, to Nu Car, Sport, and a few others. It’s worth noting that these contain a more masculine smell, so keep that in mind. As far as their scent choices go, the added variety makes it a little easier to find the right one for yourself, and they are inexpensive enough for you to try multiple scents out.
These air deodorizers are described as “slow release,” but they are actually pretty average in regards to longevity. Depending on how you use them, they can last anywhere from 5 days, to a few weeks. If you’re looking for a smaller rear view mirror freshener that won’t cost you much, DollarScent products are definitely the best car freshener scents.
Chemical Guys Air Freshener and Odor Eliminator
Ah, the ever-elusive new car smell. Most everyone loves that smell, even though it’s really hard to figure out why. If you’re someone that’s not partial to actual scents in your car, and just want more a neutral smell, this product from Chemical Guys air freshener is a great choice.
With just a few sprays, you can effectively deodorize lingering smells in your car, and even your drunk. This is more of a simultaneous action, actually. The odors are neutralized, while being replaced with that alluring smell of rubber and plastic, like a car fresh out of the factory.
The product is in a spray bottle that comes in three very different sizes. The 16 ounce size is probably the most popular, but the 4 ounce version is easier to store in the car. If you have a lot of cars to treat and want to save money, you can get a giant 128 ounce version for a good price.
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Oh, and when we say a few sprays, we mean it. This stuff is very potent, and it’s actually very easy to end up overdoing it at first. If you do, it ends up smelling more like burnt plastic. If you want to tone things down a bit, Chemical Guys suggests diluting it with water. we tend to agree.
PURGGO Car Air Freshener: Longest Lasting Car Air Freshener Scent
If you’re not partial to adding foreign scents to your car, you can still freshen the air by simply removing any lingering smells that occur from your daily driving. The PURGGO Car Air Freshener uses bamboo charcoal to absorb bad smells, and leave your car with a more neutral, natural scent inside. The porous material inside the product easily traps any scents in your car, and never lets them back out.
To use the PURGGO, you simply drape it over the back of a seat, and let it do its thing. You can put it pretty much whenever but a central location works best, hence the suggested location behind a front seat.
An advantage to this type of car air deodorizer is that you not only don’t deal with strong scents, you also don't have to worry about refills, or the product drying out too quickly. The PURGGO can last as long as one year in cars that have a lighter load making it the longest lasting car air freshener scent in the list.
It’s also very sustainable, and neutral to those who have bad allergies, or are sensitive to scents. The PURGGO is made from only hemp and bamboo, that’s it. Those who aren’t keen on standard air fresheners, and simply want a clean, natural smell in their car should go with the PURGGO.
Meguiar’s Whole: Best Smelling Car Freshener
This product from Meguiar’s takes a bit of a different approach to freshening your car’s air and smell. Rather than have something that is constantly giving off a smell, or spraying scent into the car every now and then, the Meguiar’s Whole Car Air Freshener is a one-time use, fine-mist aerosol that keeps your car smelling fresh for weeks on end.
The process is more complicated than other products, but once you’ve done it one time, you’ll be up to speed on how to use it for future sessions.
The scent is achieved by shutting all the windows in your car, turning the A/C on full blast, turning on the air circulation setting, and activating the can to let the scent out. All you do after that is shut your door, and leave the car running for around 15 minutes while it circulates the scent. After that, you open the windows for a few minutes, and it’s good to go.
Meguiar’s Whole Car Air deodorizer is great for drivers who don’t want to mess with air fresheners all the time, or have to leave one inside. It comes in several different scents, including a new car smell version.
Febreze Hawaiian Aloha: Best Plug in Air Freshener
Febreze is certainly a big player in the air freshener market, and first made their name buy offering products that simply neutralized bad smells, leaving a clean, fresh scent behind. They’ve now taken this approach to car deodorizers, with some added scent choices.
This particular product is an air vent clip, which only circulates the scent when you have the vents running. You simply clip it onto the vent, and the freshener does the rest of the work whenever you have the fans blowing.
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Although there is more than one scent available, we singled out the Hawaiian one, because it smells great, and it’s not overwhelming. If you have a bigger vehicle, you can always add another clip to a separate vent, be it in the front or back.
Each clip lasts around 30 days, but keep in mind that using the heater instead of the A/C may make it run out faster.
Arotags offers a different approach for hangable air fresheners. The kit comes with a small, porous, decorative piece of wood that you actually apply the oil to, which in turn produces the scent while it’s in your car.
While this adds a bit of a do-it-yourself aspect, the results speak for themselves. One bottle of the scented oil can last for up to a year if you do it right. The oil provides a more natural smell, devoid of any chemical hints.
We highlighted the Cool Breeze scent because it has sandalwood in it, which we believe to be one of the better scents you can use anywhere. Definitely gives your car it's own sort of vibe. There is also a Vanilla Lavender scent, and a more floral, fruity Beach Bum choice as well.
If you don’t mind doing the work yourself, then Arotags can prove to be the best car air freshener scent that you can fully rely on for a year, while experiencing some of the better scents we’ve encountered.
Little Trees Black Ice: Best Little Tree Scent
We couldn’t possible do a top 10 list without including Little Trees Scents.
Perhaps the most well-known car air freshener of them all, Little Trees are known for their look, their smell, and their price, which is a pretty good combination.
Black Ice is by far one the their most popular scents, if not the most popular. Sure, it’s a little masculine, but it’s versatile enough that lots of women drivers prefer it too.
We went with the 24 pack version, because if you’re going to buy Little Trees, you may as well by a bunch of them to last the year. Like most thin cardboard air fresheners, these can dry up quickly if left sitting out. If you want that classic look, and a proven scent, Black Ice fresheners are the Best Little Tree Scent.
ARAPLUS Car Freshener Diffuser
The ARAPLUS Car Freshener Diffuser has a different take on vent-type air fresheners, opting for an actual propeller that will certainly be appealing to aerospace enthusiasts. Even if you’re not, you can enjoy the benefits of one of the more versatile car air fresheners out there.
The ARAPLUS doesn’t require any power. You just fit in onto the vent, turn the fan on, and let it get to work. Inside the ARAPLUS is a diffuser pad that comes with an oil-based scent called Oceanic, which provides a relaxing, beach-style scent that is not overpowering.
Each pad last 30 days, and it comes with 5, giving you 150 days of operation right from the start. When the pads run out of smell, you can actually add your own essential oils, giving you full control over the smell, and adding a sense of aromatherapy if desired. Pretty cool.
The packaging of the ARAPLUS is worth mentioning as well. It’s definitely gift-worthy. If you want full control over the scent of your air deodorizer, and enjoy unique designs, the ARAPLUS is a great choice
The Ozium car freshener is a great example of a versatile air freshener that is just as useful in your home as it is in a car. The gel resides inside the canister, and not only absorbs bad odors and cleanses them from the air, it also emits its own faint scent that provides a sense of freshness.
Using it is easy. By twisting the lid, you can control how much air gets in and out, which in turn controls the scent amount. With the lack of intensity control many air fresheners have, this is a welcome feature.
The gel is resistant to hot temperatures as well, which means you can leave it in your car on hot days without worrying about it melting. The smell might intensify some, but that’s it. Those who want a very simple and effective air freshener and odor neutralizer they can control will be very happy with the Ozium car freshener scent.
The Bullsone Car Air Purifier is a bit of a futuristic version of your standard plug-in model. This one works in two different ways. First, it purifies the air and traps odors. Secondly, the inner membrane gives off a subtle fragrance that is a good compliment to the odor neutralizing aspect.
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You’re left with an interior with bad smells removed, and replaced with a light cypress smell, providing a more relaxed and natural feel in the car. Refills are available on Amazon. Also, unlike most plug-in models, you can leave it plugged in, and use an on/off button to toggle operation. The unit also bends from a 90-degree to 180-degree angle.
It also has a look to it that allows it to complement most interiors, since it has either a black and metallic finish to it, or a white version instead. Your passengers will definitely notice it and ask some questions -- in a good way. If you prefer a more tech-savvy approach to car air fresheners, this is the one for you.
Using Car Air Fresheners
While we generally recommend following the manufacturer's directions with most any product, with a little savvy, you can get more out of your air fresheners, regardless of type.
What if You Have Allergies, or the Smell is Too Strong?
For the most part, car air fresheners are hypoallergenic, so you don’t need to worry about allergy flare-ups. It’s always best to check the manufacturer's info though.
As far as scents being too strong, if things are a bit overwhelming when you first place an air freshener scent in your car, try leaving the windows cracked the first few days, or you can eve open the air deodorizer and leave it in your garage for a day or two to let the potency go down a little. In fact, you can use car vent air fresheners for your home if you know how. (Source)
What Car Fresheners are NOT Good For?
Don’t use car air fresheners to try and mask smells that could be an issue in your car. It’s always best to have any lingering smells removed at their source, or professionally done.
If your car has mold inside, or a damp, musty smell coming from your vents, an air freshener isn’t going to be a cure. You need to possible change the air conditioner filter, and perhaps have a mechanic take a look to see what’s going on. Otherwise, you’ll still be dealing with the smell, and possibly some health effects as well.
<< CONCLUSION OUR TOP PICK >>
There’s certainly something for everyone in this list, but if we had to choose one best car air freshener from the above rest, it would have to be the Meguiar’s Air deodorizer.
This product is extremely effective, and after you’ve used it once, you’ll know what to prepare for each time thereon. The appeal lies with its one-time use aspect, so you’re not left worrying about refilling your device, swapping out a newer hanging air freshener when it dries, or having to keep something extra in the car that throws off the interior’s aesthetic.
The ability to “apply” the air deodorizer to the car and then enjoy the benefits for over a month is too good to ignore. And while the functionality is preferred, the actual scent choices are all good as well -- and yes, there is a new car scent available.
This is simply the closest thing you can get to the experience of getting your car back from a detailing service after it’s been cleaned and refreshed inside. Those who want to keep things simple and easy should go with the Meguiar’s Whole Car Air Freshener scent.