While the best-smelling car air fresheners may be a matter of opinion, the best car air fresheners overall last a long time, mask odors effectively, and come at a great price. Below, you’ll find recommendations for several different types of car air fresheners, each with varying advantages depending on your needs.

While we recommend the following as the best car air fresheners, their smells are a complete matter of opinion. We’ll do our best to describe the products, but you’ll need to sniff them yourself to find out if they’re right for you. Still, this guide should help to focus your search as you consider the market’s best car air fresheners.

#1 Top Choice: Air Spencer CS-X3 Air Freshener

Air Spencer CS-X3 Air Freshener

Check Price

The Air Spencer is a Japanese car air freshener that’s popular in the United States for its pleasant scent and longevity. It’s one of the longest-lasting air fresheners that we tested, and the design doesn’t require you to dangle anything from your mirror or take up space in your cup holder.

Our Rating4.5 out of 5
Longevity5
Odor Masking4
Value4

How It Works

The Air Spencer has two components: a plastic case and a changeable gel insert that releases scent. There are several different scents available, but we chose squash, which had a pleasant smell that was actually reminiscent of bubble gum.

A sliding lever changes the gel insert’s exposure and thus the strength of the smell. You can put the CS-X3 anywhere in your car. The bottom has a sticky adhesive that makes it easy to attach to your dashboard, but you can put the small, slender device anywhere in your vehicle.

When the scent finally dies out, you can purchase refill packs in squash, lime, citrus, and crystal flavors. These cost around $8 per refill.

Our Experience

Air Spencer CS-X3 Air Freshener

Of the best car air fresheners, we had the top experience overall with this one. Our testers enjoyed the scent but were most impressed by the style of the device as well as its longevity.

Longevity: 5 out of 5

This is the longest-lasting of the scented car air fresheners that our team tested. Amazon reviews seem to support our experience, with several reviewers claiming that a single refill lasted well over a month.

Odor Masking: 4 out of 5

The scent from the Air Spencer can be quite strong when the device is opened fully. We left it only half open as we thought it was slightly too powerful. This scent also covered odor from gym clothes well, and it was the only smell we could detect in our test vehicle.

Value: 4 out of 5

Air Spencer refills are a little more expensive than what you’ll pay for some of the other best car air fresheners. However, the longevity of each odor gel makes this air freshener a decent value as you won’t need to replace it often.

What Customers Are Saying

The Air Spencer has an Amazon customer review score of 4.5 out of 5.0 stars based on more than 1,300 reviews. A full 87 percent of customer reviews give the product 4.0 stars or more. Most customers agree with our assessment, finding that the CS-X3 lasts a long time, looks sleek, and produces a pleasant smell.

Some customers claimed that the Air Spencer didn’t last long enough. It may be that these users bought a scent with shorter longevity than squash or possibly that the product runs out quicker when fully opened. Another issue is that the Air Spencer doesn’t do well in the heat. One person said the device melted and warped in 100-degree weather.

What Is It Good For?

We’d recommend the Air Spencer CS-X3 car air freshener if you want a pleasant scent that covers your vehicle and stays consistently powerful. It’s also a great option if you don’t want anything to hang from your mirror or cover up your cup holder. The Air Spencer can easily be placed just about anywhere in your vehicle. We also like the adjustment mechanism that makes it easy to set your desired potency.

#2 Best Odor Eliminator: Moso Natural Air Purifying Bag

Moso Natural Air Purifying Bag

Check Price

Moso Natural air purifying bags contain activated bamboo charcoal and are designed to absorb foul scents to purify the air. Unlike most of the other best car air fresheners, the Moso Natural bag is actually fragrance-free.

Our Rating4.5 out of 5
Longevity5
Odor Masking4
Value4

How It Works

Moso Natural works in a space of around 90.0 square feet, which is perfect for absorbing odors from your car cabin or your trunk. Bamboo charcoal is very porous and has a lot of surface area. Odor particles are trapped in the charcoal as air flows through the bag.

The Moso Natural air purifying bags can effectively deodorize a space for about two years, after which the charcoal can be used as a natural fertilizer in your garden.

Our Experience

Moso Natural Air Purifying Bag

We used the Moso Natural air purifying bags in our vehicle’s main space as well as in a trunk packed with smelly gym clothes. After a couple hours in the trunk, the bad smell was almost entirely gone. While the odor elimination is not as immediate as with a spray, it remains effective.

Longevity: 5 out of 5

The Moso Natural car air purifier is designed to last for around two years, which is much longer than with most scented air fresheners. Even the best car air fresheners don’t usually last much more than six months before needing a replacement or a refill.

Odor Masking: 4 out of 5

This bag does not work as immediately as a spray would, since the subtle scent takes time to circulate and to filter out odors. However, leaving the Moso Natural air purifying bags in your vehicle should generally keep away unwanted smells.

Value: 4 out of 5

One Moso Natural bag typically costs around $10. Given that it can last over two years, this is an excellent value for a car air freshener.

What Customers Are Saying

Moso Natural air purifying bags have an average Amazon review score of 4.3 out of 5.0 stars. Over 81 percent of reviewers give the product 4.0 or more stars. Most customers were impressed with the bag’s odor-eliminating capabilities, with several noting the effectiveness of these bags on cigarette smoke and pet odors.

“We have a daughter and son in law living in our basement. While they don’t smoke in the house, the smell of smoke on their clothes is very strong. I put two Moso bags in their basement apartment and the cigarette smoke odor is nonexistent.”

– MaryLou P. via Amazon

There are a few reviewers who claim to have not noticed any difference when using these bags, but such reports are in the minority.

What Is It Good For?

The Moso Natural air purifying bags are a good choice for those who don’t like chemical air fresheners and would prefer to avoid them. We would recommend the Moso Natural air purifying bags to those who want one of the best car air fresheners but have an allergy or sensitivity to stronger fragrances.

#3 Best For Smokers: Ozium Smoke & Odors Eliminator

Ozium Smoke & Odors Eliminator

Check Price

The Ozium Smoke & Odors Eliminator absorbs and effectively eliminates unpleasant smells. It’s particularly effective at removing cigarette smoke and other strong fragrances from your vehicle.

Our Rating4 out of 5
Longevity3.5
Odor Masking4.5
Value3.5

How It Works

To use the Ozium Smoke & Odors Eliminator, simply place it anywhere in your vehicle. The Ozium gel will absorb bad odors over time while producing a pleasant smell of its own.

Our Experience

Ozium Smoke & Odors Eliminator

We found Ozium to work as advertised and it was especially good at eliminating bad smells. Even compared to the best car air fresheners, the Ozium Smoke & Odors Eliminator is extremely effective and provides a powerful scent.

Longevity: 3.5 out of 5

One Ozium canister should last for at least a month, but it could last up to four months if used relatively sparingly.

Odor Masking: 4.5 out of 5

This is one of the most effective odor-masking car air fresheners that we used. While the Ozium Smoke & Odors Eliminator may not work immediately, it does an excellent job of removing bad odors and is not particularly pungent. This car air freshener is especially effective at removing smoke smells.

Value: 3.5 out of 5

A jar of Ozium runs about $10 and will last for at least one month. This is not as cost-effective as some of the other air fresheners on this list, but not especially pricey compared to premium air fresheners and essential oil diffusers.

What Customers Are Saying

The Ozium Smoke & Odors Eliminator has an average Amazon review score of 4.3 out of 5.0 stars based on nearly 1,500 reviews. About 81 percent of reviewers give the product 4.0 or more stars.

Many of the positive reviews come from cigarette smokers or those attempting to eliminate the smell from their cars and homes. Satisfied reviewers are extremely impressed with the effectiveness of Ozium.

“I bought a used car that smelled so bad of cigarette smoke, like the person before me puffed all day and night … I’ve now had [Ozium] in my car for almost two months and I no longer smell cigarette smoke at all.”

– Missy G. via Amazon

As with most car air fresheners, some strongly dislike the smell. A few people complain that the scent is very strong, at least when the can is initially opened.

What Is It Good For?

Ozium is a good pick for smokers and those trying to eliminate cigarette smoke or other strong smells. It is one of the least cost-effective car air fresheners we tested, though, as it doesn’t last long compared to some other picks.

#4 Chemical Guys New Car Smell

Chemical Guys New Car Smell

Check Price

The Chemical Guys New Car Smell attempts to imitate the smell of a new vehicle. The scent isn’t overwhelming but the car air freshener excels at covering up disagreeable smells.

Our Rating4 out of 5
Longevity4
Odor Masking4.5
Value4

How It Works

This air freshener from Chemical Guys has odor-eliminating enzymes as well as a perfume to keep your vehicle smelling like new. According to the directions, a single spray is enough to scent your car and our testing process confirmed this.

The product is concentrated and can be used either as-is or when diluted with up to two gallons of distilled water.

Our Experience

Chemical Guys New Car Smell

While it doesn’t perfectly match that new car scent, Chemical Guys New Car Smell comes close and provides an extremely pleasant smell. We used the product undiluted and found it to effectively mask bad odors.

Longevity: 4 out of 5

The Chemical Guys New Car Smell doesn’t last particularly long after spraying your car, but a single bottle will last for quite awhile, especially if diluted.

Odor Masking: 4.5 out of 5

This may be one of the best car air fresheners at eliminating odors if you need to neutralize a smelly vehicle. Other car air fresheners gradually perfume your car over time, but the Chemical Guys New Car Smell spray bottle can be used to immediately improve a car that’s particularly grungy.

Value: 4 out of 5

You’ll pay around $10 for 16.0 fluid ounces of Chemical Guys New Car Smell, an excellent value since it can be diluted to last longer. You may run out quickly if you spray your vehicle every day, but that’s almost never necessary. A couple of sprays should keep a fresh scent in your car for nearly a week.

What Customers Are Saying

Chemical Guys New Car Smell has an Amazon average review score of 4.1 out of 5.0 stars based on over 15,000 ratings. The product receives 4.0 stars or higher from 75 percent of reviewers on Amazon.

Many customers note how well the product masks bad smells, especially cigarette odors. A few reviewers mentioned that they were impressed with how well Chemical Guys New Car Smell worked after being diluted.

One reviewer mentioned that the car air freshener damaged the plastic cover on his instrument display. Others find the scent of Chemical Guys New Car Smell off-putting.

What Is It Good For?

While your car won’t come out smelling brand new, Chemical Guys New Car Smell may be just about the closest you’ll get. If you’re cleaning your vehicle or trying to eliminate a very pungent odor, this stands as one of the best car air fresheners on the market.

A used car with a funky scent or an unfortunate-smelling vehicle could easily be fixed with a few sprays of the Chemical Guys New Car Smell.

#5 Febreze Unstopables Car Air Vent Clip

Febreze Unstopables Car Air Vent Clip

Check Price

Febreze Unstopables stand as a popular choice among the best car air fresheners. They come in a number of scents and easily clip to your car’s air vent. This makes them a low-profile option that begins working almost immediately.

Our Rating4 out of 5
Longevity4
Odor Masking4
Value3.5

How It Works

Febreze Unstopables get clipped straight onto your car’s air vent and slowly disperse scents as the air comes out. These car air fresheners help to eliminate foul odors and replace them with one of many pleasant scents.

Our Experience

Febreze Unstopables Car Air Vent Clip

We liked the Febreze Unstopables air vent clip and found that it lasts a relatively long time. The scent is not too strong and does an exceptional job at masking bad odors. This was one of the faster-working air fresheners, covering bad smells nearly immediately upon use. The device sits out of the way and won’t obstruct your vision while driving.

Of the car air fresheners we tested, the Febreze product was the most conveniently located as it doesn’t take up space in the cup holder or on the floorboard.

Longevity: 4 out of 5

According to the manufacturer, each Febreze pod is designed to last for about a month. We found this claim to be true and then some, with two months of use being pretty easy to reach. However, the strength of this air freshener starts to diminish after about a month of use.

Odor Masking: 4 out of 5

The Febreze Unstopables air freshener vent clips are great at covering up bad smells. This car air freshener effectively replaced the stench of dirty clothes in our test vehicle with a pleasant tropical aroma.

Value: 3.5 out of 5

These aren’t the most economical of the best car air fresheners. While you can buy a four-pack from Febreze for around $15, you’ll need to replace it at least every two months.

What Customers Are Saying

Febreze Unstopables Car Air Vent Clips receive an Amazon review score of 4.6 out of 5.0 stars based on over 550 ratings. About 91 percent of reviewers gave the product 4.0 stars or higher.

Most reviewers comment that the car air fresheners work well, and many are satisfied with how long they last. Very few found that the Febreze pods offered less than a month of use. Those who leave negative reviews do so primarily because they don’t like the available scents.

What Is It Good For?

Febreze Unstopables Car Air Vent Clips provide a strong option for those who don’t want to dangle anything from their windshield or lose space in their cup holders. They’re also a good choice if you need to quickly eliminate bad odors in your vehicle.

Types Of Car Air Fresheners

Car air fresheners come in a range of types that release scent and attach to your car in various ways. It’s smart to learn about each type to discover which one you’d prefer.

Cardboard

This is the most affordable version of an air freshener, but you’ll probably get what you pay for as cardboard models only last for a short time. They most commonly come as little trees that are hung from your rearview mirror.

Plug-In

A plug-in air freshener usually has a cigarette-lighter end with a liquid container attached. It works similarly to a home air freshener that plugs into a wall outlet. Once it’s plugged into the lighter while your car is running, the liquid is heated up and its scent gets released.

Can

This type of air freshener comes in a plastic or metal canister with a gel-like substance in it. The lid of the canister has holes, and you can usually twist the lid to decide how many holes you want open. The more holes that are open, the more scent the gel will release. Can-shaped car air fresheners are generally placed into a cup holder.

Vent Clip

Vent clip car air fresheners are pretty similar to cigarette lighter plug-ins due to their container of liquid. These models differ because you clip them onto your air vents, which release the scent as air flows out.

Spray

A spray air freshener isn’t like the others that release scent over a period of time. This version comes in a can that you spray whenever there’s an odor you want to mask. With this type, you have the option of directly spraying the area that smells bad.

Buyers Guide To The Best Car Air Fresheners

Every person holds different preferences on what the best car air fresheners should offer. Here are some factors worth considering as you choose the top car air freshener for your personal needs.

Fragrance

Scent is arguably the most important factor when choosing a car air freshener because it will determine how your car smells for the foreseeable future. For those focused on aromatherapy and in search of essential oils, there’s even more to consider before choosing a scent.

Aesthetics

This ties into the various types of car air fresheners because each of them look different. Some, like the spray, are only meant to eliminate odors as they arise. Others, like the plug-in, are intentionally created to be aesthetically pleasing. You’ll have to decide how important looks are to you before picking between the best car air fresheners.

Space

A can can take up one of your cup holders – a big sacrifice if you’ve got a sedan with only two. A plug-in may not be that large, but it takes up a cigarette lighter that could be used to charge electronics. If you want a car air freshener that’s relatively unobtrusive, a rearview mirror or car vent clip is your best bet.

Variety

You’ll want to pick a brand that offers a variety of scents so that you can find one you like. Even better is a variety pack that allows you to try them all in a row. This also makes it easy for drivers to switch between scents if they get sick of one after a while.

Duration

The duration of the scent will determine how often you have to buy new car air fresheners. More expensive ones, like the vent clips and clip-ons, will generally last longer.

Odor Masking Vs. Elimination

High-quality air fresheners will completely eliminate unpleasant scents but tend to cost more. You’ll have to decide if you’re willing to settle for a car air freshener that simply masks bad odors with its own scent for a reduced price.

Our Review Standards

The car air fresheners in this article went through two extensive rounds of review. We started by combing through customer feedback on sites like Amazon, Walmart, and Target. Next, we selected some of the top performers on those sites and vetted them through in-person testing.

Car Air Fresheners Testing Process

To test each of the best car air fresheners, we installed them in the front seats of cars and then in a trunk filled with sweaty gym clothes. We noted the strength of the scent from the front and rear seats, along with how well each car air freshener masked bad odors.

Each candidate for the best air fresheners was left in a vehicle until it stopped performing. Some of the air fresheners continue to work and we had to look at customer reviews to determine how long they typically last.

We rated each of the best car air fresheners using three main criteria: longevity, odor-masking abilities, and overall value.

  • Longevity: Longevity is extremely important when determining the best car air fresheners. After all, even the best-smelling products aren’t worth using if they only last a day. Some car air fresheners will last for several months straight.
  • Odor Masking: A common use for car air fresheners is to cover up bad smells in your car, from pet odors and cigarette scents to dirty clothes and food spills. We took note of how well each of the best car air fresheners was able to mask the smell of stinky clothes in the trunk of our test vehicle.
  • Value: We determined the value of each air freshener by comparing their cost with how long they generally last for.

Frequently Asked Questions

*Data accurate at time of publication.