Have you ever found yourself driving when all of a sudden a distinctly bad smell hits you? It’s possible that even after cleaning your car, you still sense it with your sniffer. Well, fret not! There are great solutions, from purifying bags to fresheners, to get rid of that stink for good.

Maybe your friend had smoke in the car and that stale cigarette odor has set in. Your pets, while you adore them, may not be helping the cause either. Or perhaps the car just smells old. Regardless of your car’s history, vehicle-inhabiting odors are a common, but troublesome nuisance.

Aware of this issue, many brands have stepped up to the task of defeating these stenches. Multiple approaches to the problem means there are a number of solutions available to you. Below we have compiled a selection of effective and noteworthy products that have demonstrated themselves to be the ticket to cleaner air and a more enjoyable drive.

1. FRiEQ Car Air Freshener

[amazon fields=”B012CDEMFG” value=”thumb” image_size=”large”]

[amazon box=”B012CDEMFG” template= “horizontal”]

Why we like it: Simple-to-use device that uses the power of ions to remove particles responsible for odors from the air.

As technology evolves, new ways to improve people’s lives are continuously discovered. Take, for example, this ionizer from FRiEQ. To activate it, you merely plug it into your vehicle’s cigarette lighter receptacle. If the blue LED light is on, then it’s silently emitting millions of negative ions into the air. The resulting benefit is that these ions attract positively-charged microscopic particles that your nose detects as a stench. They neutralize the mold, smoke, bacteria, and other lingering infinitesimal airborne nuisances to leave the air you breathe much cleaner. It is not an expensive piece of tech, and an alternative version is available that also acts as an essential oil diffuser.

While some might initially have doubts regarding this electrifying technology, most customers were quite impressed with this ionizer’s effects. Users noted its efficacy in dealing with cigarette smoke, various pet smells, fumes, pollen, and other problematic particles. They were pleased with its ability to silently and consistently clear the air without scents or the use of chemicals. Although a few did not believe the ionizer they received was functioning properly, thankfully the manufacturer responsibly offers replacements or refunds for faulty products. Those who seek a no-hassle answer to their vehicle’s odor issues should look into this electronic air freshener.

2. Moso Natural Air Purifying Bag

[amazon fields=”B0821SWJ5S” value=”thumb” image_size=”large”]

[amazon box=”B0821SWJ5S” template= “horizontal”]

Why we like it: A popular, effective odor remover with a sensible, inconspicuous design. Especially good for those who are environmentally-conscious and looking for an inexpensive product.

A prime example of the charcoal air purifiers, this bag works by absorbing offending scents and then is rejuvenated by the light of the sun for reuse. Its small size, only 6-inches high, does not come at the cost of efficacy as it will work on spaces up to 90 square feet in area. With a maximum lifespan of two years, it will serve to clear the air for a very reasonable length of time. Made of moso bamboo charcoal, it’s so environmentally friendly that you can empty it into your garden to serve as fertilizer once it has finished its odor-eliminating days. Maintenance is simple: expose it to light once a month and it will happily continue its air-cleaning duty. It even comes in three different colors!

Most will attest to its versatility – it has been evidenced to improve air polluted by cigarette smoke, dogs, rotten food, mildew, and bathroom frequenters in all sorts of different locations. Its long lifespan and simple maintenance also help to make it a worthy investment for one looking to control offending smells. While a minority of purchasers were not impressed after detecting no noticeable improvement, the overwhelming number of positive reviews combined with its inoffensive presence and earth-friendly design leads us to recommend this air freshener for your vehicle.

3. PURGGO Car Air Freshener

[amazon fields=”B019NXUJ5K” value=”thumb” image_size=”large”]

[amazon box=”B019NXUJ5K” template= “horizontal”]

Why we like it: Effectively takes care of odors by absorption, and is designed to accommodate the interior of a vehicle. Naturally improves the atmosphere in a car.

Another charcoal air purifier, this product is geared specifically to automobiles. Although it measures over a foot long, it will fit securely and seamlessly behind the head of a car seat thanks to an included strap that allows easy placement inside a vehicle. A simple product, it is free of chemicals and does not rely on any fragrances. Rather, bamboo charcoal powers this earth-friendly odor remover as it steadily absorbs foul scents. Those looking for a longer-term odor fix will be pleased that it works for well over a year, simply needing to be recharged in the sun about once a month.

Customers on the whole were quite delighted with its performance. They told of the air freshener’s efficacy in removing dog, smoke, sweat, rotten edibles, and garbage smells. A small minority did not feel it actually functioned as advertised; a few specifically mentioned it not treating the odor of cigarette smoke to their satisfaction. However, the vast majority would note at least some tangible amount of improvement and felt that the product was conveniently designed. Taking this into account, along with its chemical-free, earth-friendly nature, we likewise give this air freshener an unambiguous thumbs up.

4. Little Trees® Assorted Air Freshener Classic Scents

[amazon fields=”B00XRKUYR4″ value=”thumb” image_size=”large”]

[amazon box=”B00XRKUYR4″ template= “horizontal”]

Why we like it: Economical and easy-to-use packets, with many scents to choose from.

These trees aren’t exactly uncommon, and that’s for a good reason. They’re inexpensive and effective at the same time. Moreover, they’re simple to set up, and are available in various flavors. Just hang one in your vehicle and you will soon detect the scent of Black Ice, Royal Pine, New Car Scent, or other interesting smells that are a vast improvement over stale car air. They’re low-maintenance and get the job done. When, after several weeks, they start losing their scent, merely replace them as they come in significant quantities and are inexpensive.

When a product is as uncomplicated and economical as these trees, there can be few downsides to them. They’re colorful, relatively long-lasting, and take care of any bad smells. Additionally, their small size and hanging design mean they don’t take up room in your vehicle. Just note that because they’re available in such a variety of fragrances, some buyers were pleased with certain scents and not with others. We recommend these useful air fresheners if you are interested in a simple, inexpensive way to better the smell of your car.

5. Ozium Car Air Freshener

[amazon fields=”B00K007R6U” value=”thumb” image_size=”large”]

[amazon box=”B00K007R6U” template= “horizontal”]

Why we like it: Low-maintenance product that works to defeat odors over the course of months, eliminating them while also releasing an enjoyable scent in its stead.

When there’s a stink in an enclosed area, such as inside an automobile, you need something that will tirelessly fight bad smells within that space. That’s what this gel is for. Designed for smaller areas, you can just tuck them inconspicuously into some obscure corner, such as under a seat, and they’ll get right to work. Twist the cap to determine the rate of its scent release. With this air freshener, the priority is a long lifespan, with each gel canister lasting for months. When the gel within is used up, merely replace it to get back to defeating those pesky stenches. This is made easier by buying in bulk, a strategy which will also save you money.

Only about 12 cubic inches in size, it won’t occupy much space in your car. Its small size belies its stench-fighting capacity. Most reviewers were very happy with the long-lasting odor-besting boasted by these gel packs, with over three-quarters giving high marks. They were also pleased with its mild fragrance and its effectiveness in eliminating odors in smaller spaces. It should be noted that this freshener’s strength is primarily in dealing with moderate constant stenches rather than new odors that repeatedly intrude over short periods of time. But as for rejuvenating the musty air in your automobile, these gels should do the trick!

6. Meguiar’s G16602 Whole Car Air Refresher

[amazon fields=”B00G49DUYY” value=”thumb” image_size=”large”]

[amazon box=”B00G49DUYY” template= “horizontal”]

Why we like it: Powerful spray that drives out unwanted odors from every corner of your vehicle.

If you have a serious stench to deal with, you want something strong to properly take care of it. You can find and eliminate the source of the odor, but if it’s still hanging around, you need something more to fully cleanse your vehicle of it. That’s why the Meguiar’s Air-Refresher exists. Aerosol-based, this spray packs a serious punch. The recommended method of application involves using your vehicle’s fan to thoroughly spread the Re-Fresher’s spray throughout the car for 15 minutes with the doors closed, afterwards airing it out for the same length of time. It both eliminates odors and leaves one of multiple available scents, and its intensity is the key to its effectiveness.

Reviewers all agreed that this mister was powerful and its effects were quite evident. It proved handy for removing deep-seated odors, even from within the air ventilation system. Just be sure to let it air out for a significant length of time! For some, the particular scent they used was too overbearing, so if you have a sensitive sense of smell or just want a light, pleasant scent to accompany you on your drive, this might not be the best product for your needs. But if you want to get rid of a stubborn odor, this air refresher is the ticket!

7. Blue Magic Pure Citrus Natural Air Freshener

[amazon fields=”B07BDQHH68″ value=”thumb” image_size=”large”]

[amazon box=”B07BDQHH68″ template= “horizontal”]

Why we like it: It’s a chemical-free spray with a pleasant scent that neutralizes any stench. Good for those with a sensitive sniffer.

Perhaps you’re interested in a product to immediately deal with a temporary offending odor that appeared in the vicinity. In that regard, this spray excels. Boasting a completely natural orange scent extracted from actual fruit, a spray of this nature is sure to conceal a problematic smell without dispersing harmful chemicals into the air. This is especially beneficial for those who are sensitive to artificial ingredients or overly strong scents. Its uses range from freshening up litter box rooms to improving the air in your car. If orange isn’t your aroma of choice, other available varieties include lemon, vanilla, and cinnamon.

Users of this product were very happy with its gentle but effectual aroma. The praise for its scent was nearly unanimous. The only possible downside is that spraying it in the air over hardwood floors may cause them to become slippery, but we found that it doesn’t take much creativity to avoid spraying directly over the floor when neutralizing an odor in a room. This air freshener may not be as cheap as some other solutions. However, its high quality is worth the tradeoff if you are looking for a natural cure for your vehicle’s smell and that earns it a solid recommendation from us.

8. Aroma Outfitters Car Diffuser

[amazon fields=”B071L7KDVN” value=”thumb” image_size=”large”]

[amazon box=”B071L7KDVN” template= “horizontal”]

Why we like it: A stylish piece that diffuses natural oil, making it an elegant and practical air freshener for your automobile.

Maybe what you seek is something that enhances both the appearance and the air quality of the interior of your ride: a classy device that offers fashion and function. BellaSentials is here to grant your request with this charm designed to hang on your rearview mirror. Since it diffuses natural essential oils of your choice to provide soothing aromas, you will not have to worry about breathing potentially harmful chemicals. The six reusable diffuser pads that accompany the product mean it is ready to work once you add your favorite essential oil. In addition, it is available in two colors and comes in a stylish velvet pouch. It won’t break the bank either.

Overall this chic product has been received well by consumers. Most found it served their purposes, though some were looking for a longer-working solution that did not have to be refilled regularly. A small number of reviewers did not feel that it was actually working. However, the majority were very pleased with its scent diffusion and elegant charm, and the company’s customer service has a good reputation to boot. If you are looking for an essential oil diffuser with a fashionable appearance, then we think this charm is right for you.

9. Febreze Air Freshener

[amazon fields=”B004NNZH2Q” value=”thumb” image_size=”large”]

[amazon box=”B004NNZH2Q” template= “horizontal”]

Why we like it: Successfully eradicates funky smells and substitutes with enjoyable ones at an affordable budget. A variety of different options allows you to find a scent you like.

There are few names in the scent spray industry as well-known as Febreze. This air-freshening spray demonstrates the company is deserving of their big-name status. It’s designed to eliminate evil odors with a spray and replace with a refreshing alternative. With a lineup of 8 different enjoyable scents from Hawaiian Aloha to Spring & Renewal, you are sure to find one to please your nostrils. The other advantage offered by Febreze Air Effects is its affordable budget. While there are many different-sized packages for this product, buying bulk allows you to get twelve bottles (ten pounds of stench-quenching fragrance!).

It is best used to neutralize and cover up isolated smelly threats as opposed to serving as a long-term solution for a residing odor issue. Additionally, it is possible that if you are exceptionally sensitive to smells, you will find this too strong for your liking. But if you are searching for a quick answer to an olfactory emergency in your vehicle, we think this is the spray for you.

10. Air Spencer Squash Scent Air Freshener

[amazon fields=”B001RJN56Y” value=”thumb” image_size=”large”]

[amazon box=”B001RJN56Y” template= “horizontal”]

Why we like it: A compact container of fragrance with a thoroughly enjoyable scent.

Hailing all the way from Japan, this small cartridge comes with a pleasant squash smell that is perfect for improving the air in your vehicle. Only a few inches long, it doesn’t take up much room. It conveniently comes with adhesives so you can attach it to the interior of your car. Additionally, you can buy a case to store the air-freshening capsule. However, many adopters of this product elect to forego either option and simply stow it in a discreet location within their vehicle, avoiding any complications with removing troublesome adhesives or the extra bulk of the case.

The fragrance was unanimously lauded (unfortunately, no word on whether it truly smells like a squash), though for some, the duration of the scent did not meet their expectations. Most found the scent lasted several weeks to a few months, varying due to factors such as the temperature. It was also advised that, for quality’s sake, buyers are careful to exclusively purchase the Japanese products, avoiding the lesser Chinese knockoffs. We propose you try this air freshener if you are interested in a pleasant fragrance to greatly enhance the atmosphere of your ride.

Best Car Air Freshener – Buyer’s Guide

That new car smell can’t last forever–unless, of course, you get an air freshener with that scent! Car air fresheners come in almost every shape, size and form factor these days. Some are better than others, but each has certain benefits that you might find valuable.

Little Trees
The little tree car air fresheners are some of the oldest styles of air freshener. The form and function of these air fresheners are pretty simple. A cardboard cut-out shape, which sometimes comes in other shapes beyond just a tree, is covered in scents or perfumes of various kinds. As it’s exposed to air, the freshener excretes the scent. Eventually, all free molecules are used up. Little trees tend to be effective for 1-2 months or more, depending on the brand. It’s important to note that “Little Trees” is a trademark brand. There are other companies that make these types of air fresheners with other shapes. Any that are shaped like the iconic evergreen tree are likely from the Little Trees brand. These are often very inexpensive. They are usually sold in packs of 3 or more.

Deodorizers work by absorbing the molecules in the air that produce scent. Deodorizers contain one of many various types of compounds that when naturally combined with the scent-producing molecules in the air, undergo a small chemical reaction that changes them into a salt compound. This is how, for example, baking soda deodorizes the air in your fridge. The process works somewhat similar to charcoal air fresheners, except that there is a chemical reaction with a deodorizer that leaves the material changed. Most deodorizers work in two ways, first by removing the molecules from the air, and by releasing a scent when that chemical change occurs. You’ll know your deodorizer is finished when it’s no longer removing bad smells, or when you can no longer smell the scent it was designed to produce.

Sprays are a common and effective car air freshener method. These work by expelling an aerosol material into the air. This material can either be a perfume scent or a scent mixed with molecules designed to absorb scent from the air as they fall to the ground. Febreze is perhaps the most well-known label for this kind of air freshener, although their fresheners are not typically designed specifically for cars. However, any spray that works as an air freshener can conceivably be used in a car.

That said, many sprays are designed for cars, with scents that are more commonly found (and culturally accepted) in cars over households. The sprays are affordable and offer a good amount of use per spray. They also offer the flexibility to allow your car to smell nice when you want. As some users may be assaulted by the constant scents produced by other air fresheners, this may be a valuable choice for some.

Ionic Air Purifiers

The only type of car air purifier that needs electricity to operate, ionic air purifiers are backed by interesting science to make them operate. These purifiers use electrical charges to ionize the air. The negatively charged ions attract the positively charged molecules in the air. Once these positively charged molecules hit the generated negative ions, they become grounded. The effect is similar to static electricity. The molecules are drawn toward the electrode in the ionizer. The effect is the generation of small amounts of ozone, (O3) which can be poisonous in large amounts.

These devices hook into the car’s 12V receptacle. These devices do not produce any perfumes or scents, although those who can recognize the smell of ozone may notice the smell of the ozone byproduct. This smell generally indicates that the device is working, although these devices often have a limited range.

Air Vent Clip-On

Air vent clip-ons are simple, yet effective. Filled with a liquid perfume, these car air fresheners clip onto the folds of a car’s air vent. As the air passes over and through the clip-on, it draws molecules from the liquid up and out of the device. Eventually, these molecules will be fully depleted. The amount of time these last depends on how frequently they are exposed to move air from the air vents. Warm air also causes them to get used up much faster. The rated lifecycle of the clip-on and the brand will directly impact the expense.

Charcoal Air Purifiers

Although not an entirely new concept, charcoal air purifiers use fairly simple science to operate. These car air fresheners typically carry no scents. Instead, they utilize a porous bag filled with charcoal of some kind, ground down into fine flakes. The charcoal can be made of any woody plant material, with coconut and bamboo being a popular source.

These air fresheners work through activated carbon. Charcoal is composed primarily of carbon, a common element, that is extremely porous. As air moves through the bag, molecules in the air get stuck into the microscopic crevices of the carbon. This has an air purifying effect. These are highly favored for being environmentally friendly and reusable under certain conditions. Many of these fresheners come in cute and fun shapes and sizes.