6 Best Car Air Fresheners in 2020

After reviewing a multitude of car air fresheners, we nominated the Febreze Car Air Freshener as our Top Pick for the best car air freshener. We liked that this was a four-pack of clip-ons that come in two scents: Gain Original and Gain Island Fresh. Each freshener can last for up to 30 days and is easy to use.

To create our guide of the best car air fresheners, we focused on the following criteria: scent, type, longevity, and placement. We know scents are personal, so we primarily focused on options that gave you a variety of scents. Likewise, we picked a range of types from clip-on to hanging styles. And finally, we wanted to ensure that we picked options that would last and wouldn’t leave you replacing a car air freshener every few days. Keep reading to learn more about our buying guide criteria and to shop from our recommendations.

Top 6 Best Car Air Fresheners

 #1  Febreze Car Air Freshener

Award: TOP PICK

WHY WE LIKE IT: An easy to use option that quickly clips into your car’s air vents, while lasting for up to 30 days, making this a four-month supply and the best car air freshener.

Pros
  • Clip-on style that connects to vents
  • Lasts for up to 30 days
  • Multipack containing 4 fresheners and 2 scents
Cons
  • Scents are on the stronger side

Febreze is one of those brands that seamlessly transitions from the home to your car because they’re all about quickly and efficiently eliminating offensive odors. We’re picking them as our Top Pick because they have the longest scent lifespan for a disposable scented air freshener. And since they’re easy to find nearly anywhere, we think they’re the best car air freshener.

With this four-pack set, you’ll get two scents, Gain Original and Gain Island Fresh. So, if you love the smell of fresh laundry the Gain Original scent is your best bet, while those looking for an oasis escape every time they get in the car will appreciate the Island Fresh scent. Each freshener clips onto your car’s air vents, and depending on the airflow speed you set, you can enjoy a little or a lot of your chosen scent. Each clip is designed to last for up to 30 days, turning this into an economical four-month supply to keep your car smelling fresh. For making sure the rest of your vehicle is clean, you might want to take a look at the best car upholstery cleaner.

 #2  Yankee Candle Hanging Jar Car Air Freshener

Award: HONORABLE MENTION

WHY WE LIKE IT: A 100% recyclable trio of easy to use hanging car air fresheners that can be multi-purposed for your home or car to eliminate bad odors.

Pros
  • Made from 100% recyclable materials
  • 3-pack set with 3 unique scents
  • Hanging design can also be used in the home
Cons
  • Lower lifespan of 2 to 4 weeks

Yankee Candle Company is another great brand that’s synonymous with fresh or welcoming scents for both the home and your car. With this Honorable Mention pick, you’ll get three assorted scents that are ready to use straight out of the pack to remove odors in your car. Simply hang them off of your rearview mirror, or in a small space like your closet or even the trunk of your car.

Each car air freshener is designed to last for two to four weeks depending on how frequently you open your windows. The sachets are each a half ounce and measure 7.75 inches tall by 3.07 inches wide, and 0.15 inches thick. We like this pick because the entire packaging is 100 percent recyclable, so you can feel good about your purchase.You could use this to freshen your truck, and also pick up some of the best roll on truck bed liner while you’re at it.

 #3  Little Trees Car Air Freshener

Award: BEST CLASSIC DESIGN

WHY WE LIKE IT: A classic oldie but goodie car air freshener that’s available in 40 scents and is easy to use straight out of the package to remove bad smells.

Pros
  • Available in 40 unique fragrances
  • Economical 6-pack
  • Easy to use, hanging from the rearview mirror
Cons
  • Short lifespan at 1 to 2 weeks
  • Some may feel that leaving the packaging on looks tacky

We challenge you to find someone who’s not familiar with the Little Trees Car Air Freshener. We’ve all seen a friend, relative, or even a rideshare driver with one or more of these trees hanging from their rearview mirror. And because it’s so ubiquitous, it deserves a mention. The Little Trees pick is great if you want options since you can choose from 40 scents including the popular black ice scent.

Each tree can last anywhere from one to two weeks depending on how much of the tree you expose when you hang it. The one drawback we see with Little Trees is that the directions recommend that you leave most of the tree in the cellophane packaging and only expose a tiny amount. But for some people, that can look unsightly because these trees are designed to hang in a conspicuous location. And even if you follow the directions, you’re most likely going to max out at two weeks of use before it needs to be replaced. If you’re worried about the safety of your vehicle, you might be interested in our guide to the best car alarm.

 #4  Car Cuties Cute Cat Car Air Freshener

Award: BEST ON A BUDGET

WHY WE LIKE IT: Feel good about your purchases as a percentage of proceeds from each sale of these cat car fresheners goes to support Paws Chicago — a non-profit animal shelter.

Pros
  • Adorable feline design
  • Available in 13 unique scents
  • A portion of proceeds support a non-profit animal shelter
Cons
  • 1 to 2-week longevity for the scent

Hanging car air fresheners aren’t new, but we like the twist on this Best on a Budget pick. In addition to having a cute double-sided cat face and being available in 13 scents, you can give back to the community with this one. The Car Cuties Cute Cat Car Air Freshener is a three-pack of hanging cardboard air fresheners.

But with each purchase, a percentage of the proceeds are donated to Paws Chicago, a non-profit no-kill animal shelter that helps to reduce the incidence of homeless pets in the metropolis. That being said, as is common with cardboard car air fresheners, each of these is designed to last for one to two weeks. If you’re always looking for the latest in car accessories, you should also read our guide to best steering wheel cover.

 #5  Meguiar’s Whole Car Air Freshener

Award: BEST QUALITY

WHY WE LIKE IT: A serious whole-car odor eliminator that helps to remove stubborn odors through an intensive process while refreshing your car, making it the best car air freshener for smokers.

Pros
  • Ideal for getting rid of old, lingering smells
  • Creates a “new car smell” that lasts for weeks
  • 2oz single-use canister design
Cons
  • Has a more complex operational procedure

If your car seriously smells, then you’re probably going to need something more aggressive than the traditional clip-on and hanging cardboard car air fresheners. We’re nominating Meguiar as our Best Quality pick because it’s designed to truly eliminate offensive, long-standing odors like cigarette smoke and replace it with a new car scent that will make you feel like your ride is showroom new — making it the best car air freshener for smokers.

As compared to most car air fresheners, this one requires many more steps to make it work. First, you’ll need to thoroughly clean your car, including vacuuming, dry brushing, or spot cleaning as needed. And unlike other air fresheners, this isn’t meant to be used around people, animals, or pets. You need to turn your car on, run the air conditioning on high, close the windows, press the trigger on this canister, and leave your car for 15 minutes. While we think this is probably the most intensive and thorough way to air out your car, keep in mind that these canisters are designed for single use only. If you want another way to make your drive convenient, you might also be interested in the best remote car starter.

 #6  Purggo Car Air Freshener

Award: LONGEST LASTING

WHY WE LIKE IT: A chemical free car air freshener designed to reduce your carbon footprint, is made from all-natural ingredients, is the longest lasting car air freshener, and can even be repurposed as fertilizer when it’s time to replace it.

Pros
  • Can be recycled as fertilizer when it’s time to change it
  • Lasts for more than 365 days
  • Made from 100% activated bamboo charcoal and hemp
Cons
  • Disposal can be tricky if you aren’t a gardener

The Purggo car air freshener is perfect for drivers who want their car to smell fresh but are concerned about the impact that single-use car air fresheners can have. If you’re not a fan of plastic clip-on or paper hanging fresheners, this alternative is made from all-natural bamboo charcoal and hemp. It’s designed to be slung around the headrest of either front seat and works passively to naturally trap odors in the charcoal as air passes through it.

The active charcoal in this air purifying bag works to eliminate rather than mask odors like some air fresheners can do. And you can rest easy since both bamboo and hemp are natural resources that are easily renewed. More importantly, this pick lasts for more than a year, making it the longest-lasting car air freshener. But what we liked the most is that this product can still serve a purpose once it’s no longer viable as an odor eliminator. The bamboo charcoal can be used as fertilizer for your garden or indoor plants. This air freshener will quickly become an essential part of your best car accessories.

How We Decided

If you spend any time in your car, you’re going to need an air freshener. To create our guide, we focused on the following features — scent, type, longevity, and placement. We highlighted a range of car air freshener types that included cardboard, clip-on, cans, and even an eco-friendly solution.

Picking a scent is a personal choice. So where possible, we tried to focus on options that provided a range of scents for you to choose from. But when it came to longevity, we did prioritize options that were meant to last. While we do have two shorter picks that max out at two weeks, you’ll find that we also included standard options that can last up to 30 days, as well as a truly durable option that’s meant to last more than a year.

And finally, where you place a car air freshener can help to enhance the scent, or serve as a distraction. Except for our Best Quality pick which isn’t meant to be in your car at all times, all of our other picks can either be hung from your rearview mirror or headrest or clipped onto your air vents.

Best Car Air Freshener Buyer’s Guide

The Most Important Factors to Consider

  1. Scent
    Hands down, the most important factor is going to be the scent. And this is a completely personal choice. Everyone has a preference when it comes to how they want their car to smell. While some people might prefer a highly floral or spicy smell, there are plenty of neutral air freshener scents that you can choose. Popular options include scents like the smell of fresh laundry, lavender, or even vanilla.
  2. Type
    The most common types of air fresheners are clip-on, cardboard, gel, can and sprays. Clip-on and cardboard styles tend to be the least obtrusive since they don’t take up much space and are less likely to slide around the car like cans, gels, and spray bottles can do. Clip-on air fresheners rely on active airflow through your car’s air vents to push a fresh scent through the car while the others are more passive. There’s no right or wrong option, it just depends on your preference.
  3. Longevity
    No one wants an air freshener that fades into the background within a week or two of using it. If you’re quickly trying to remove a stubborn odor, a spray style air freshener can help to quickly absorb and neutralize the offending smell. Hanging cardboard air fresheners usually only last for a week or two since they’re usually covered in essential oils that evaporate over time. In contrast, clip-on air fresheners tend to last longer often anywhere between four to six weeks.
  4. Placement
    Car air fresheners come in multiple styles that can be placed in your car in a range of locations. Some are designed to hang from your rearview window while others are meant to be clipped onto your car’s air vents. There’s no right or wrong option here, it just depends on which location you prefer.

Car Air Freshener FAQs

What is the best and longest-lasting car air freshener?

The best car air freshener is one that has a pleasant scent that you like and can effectively eliminate odors. In our research, we found that the longest lasting car air freshener was our Best Sustainable choice. It is made from bamboo charcoal and hemp and is designed to last for more than a year.

How can I make my car smell good all the time?

First, you should be cleaning your car’s interior regularly. If you feel like you live in your car and it acts as a second closet or dining room when you’re not at home, it’s more likely that odors will build up in your car. Focus on the upholstery or floor mats since soft surfaces are great places for odors to find a home. But after you clean your car, invest in a good air freshener to help minimize the chance of odors accumulating over time.

What scent do car dealers use?

Most of us are familiar with that “new car scent”. Interestingly enough, that scent was originally known as Ozium and was created from a sanitizing spray used in the 1940s. But people loved it so much that car dealers and detailers began using it. Even today, you can buy car air fresheners that are marketed as a “new car scent”.

What is the most popular car air freshener scent?

It’s going to vary depending on who you ask. But in our research, we found that in addition to “new car scent” popular picks like vanilla, fresh laundry, or ocean breeze tend to be the most popular.

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Dorian Smith-Garcia

Dorian Smith-Garcia is a bridal and beauty expert/influencer and the creative director behind The Anti Bridezilla. She is a diverse writer across beauty, fashion, travel, consumer goods, and tech. She also writes for Inverse, Glowsly, and The Drive along with a variety of other publications. When Dorian's not writing she's collecting stamps in her passport, learning new languages, or spending time with her husband and daughter.

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