Remove bad odours with one of the best car air fresheners you can buy
Whether it’s fast food, pets or your damp running shoes to blame, cars aren’t always the best-smelling places. Thankfully, though, the best car air fresheners can tackle even the strongest of bad odours.
In this roundup, we’ve put together a list of top products to remove those occasional suboptimal smells without breaking the bank. From the now iconic trees that you’ll find in most minicabs, to more exotic solutions such as Febreze plug-ins and ‘odour bombs,’ we’ve included a variety of options for all different budgets.
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Best car air freshener: At a glance
- Best for staying power: California Scents Air Freshener Cherry Scent | £7.35
- Best for funky flavours: Jelly Bean Air Freshener, Blueberry | £3
- Best for eliminating bad odours: Turtle Wax Odor X | £4.49
How to choose the best car air freshener for you
How long should it last?
If you’re not worried about staying power, most of the cheaper options on this list should keep you happy for a few weeks. However, if you want nice smells for longer periods you’ll need to pay more initially. Take the California Scents fragrances, for example. One of the brand’s air fresheners might cost you £5 or more but should last for an impressive 60 days.
What sort of fragrance should I choose?
Most brands offer a range of varied fragrances, but they still tend to cater to slightly different audiences. Those looking for vibrant, punchy smells should consider products from Jelly Bean and Little Trees. If, on the other hand, you’re looking for something a little less harsh, you might be better off with brands such as Febreze or Yankee Candle.
Where should I hang it?
While most people are familiar with air fresheners that hang from a rear-view mirror, several products on this list are designed to clip on to your car’s air vents, while others can be left in the boot. Which of these you choose comes entirely down to personal preference, but if you have a particularly sensitive nose, keeping the air freshener a little further away from you might be a good idea.
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The best car air freshener you can buy in 2023
1. Jelly Bean Air Freshener, Blueberry: Best for funky flavours
Price when reviewed: £3 | Check price at AmazonIf you want to add some colour and smell to your car, you can do worse than a Jelly Belly air freshener. Available in a selection of exotic and sweet flavours such as Bubblegum, Lemon Drop and Blueberry, each Jelly Belly comes in the form of a giant jelly bean designed to be hung on a rear-view mirror.
User reviews suggest each scent lasts between two to three weeks– that’s not bad for almost a month of fresh smells.
2. California Scents Air Freshener Cherry Scent: Best for staying power
Price when reviewed: £7.35 | Check price at AmazonIf you’re after something a little more exotic, it’s worth checking out California Scents, and the brand’s Cherry scent in particular. At around £7, it’s a little more expensive than some of the other solutions on this list, but it uses organic fragrance oils to deliver powerful results.
Similar in size to a tin of tuna, California Scents are designed to fit in cubby holes and cup holders, though you can leave them wherever you like. Their sheer strength makes them good value, but they also come with an adjustable vent, which lets you dial back the intensity if you find it too much.
User reviews suggest they blow away even the worst smells and they don’t just give a quick burst of freshness – the brand says each tin will last for around 60 days.
3. Turtle Wax Odor X: Best for eliminating bad odours
Price when reviewed: £4.49 | Check price at HalfordsMost air fresheners on this list mask grim odours by simply hanging them in your car or attaching them to an air vent, but this Turtle Wax product has a different approach. Odor X acts like a one-shot bomb for nasty car odours, and it’s pretty simple to use.
Simply turn on the air conditioning in your cleaned car (and make sure it’s recirculating air) and then get out the car, leaving the Turtle Wax aerosol behind. After pushing down its nozzle, it will spray its entire contents. Within a few minutes, the Odor X will have found its way to any sources of bad odour and neutralised them. Turtle Wax says it will remove the smell of tobacco, pets, food and milk, and replace it with its own scent for 30 days.
4. Febreze Car Air Freshener: Best for a subtle fragrance
Price when reviewed: £3 | Check price at Sainsbury’s Not content with dominating in the home, Febreze has ventured into the world of air fresheners for your car, and its Odour Eliminator is mighty impressive. Just like the brand’s products for the home, Febreze claims its car products remove odours instead of simply covering them up.
Designed to clip onto your car’s air vents, its Odour Eliminators last for 30 days, and replaces any grim scents with the smell of freshly washed cotton. Amazon user reviews are quick to point out that Febreze’s products are less powerful than others on this list, but leave your car with the Cotton Fresh scent – a pleasant, neutral smell. They’re good value too; a pack of six costs just £16 and should last for half a year.
5. Little Trees, Arctic White Fragrance: Best budget air freshener
Price when reviewed: £1.50 | Check price at AmazonLittle Trees’ iconic air fresheners are ubiquitous in Uber vehicles, minicabs and black cabs, and it’s easy to see why. The Little Trees brand has been going for six decades and in that time the company has amassed around 30 premium fragrances.
Artic White is one of the most popular scents, and that’s mainly down to its strong, refreshing smell. Potent enough to mask the most vicious unwanted odours, Arctic White is a sharp but likeable fragrance that starts working as soon as the packet is opened.
6. Yankee Candle Vent Sticks: Best for bringing home comforts to your car
Price when reviewed: £4.99 (four pack) | Check price at AmazonYankee Candle is another brand that’s made the leap from the house to the car and, as you would expect, it offers a range of luxurious, exotic fragrances. Designed to clip on to interior vents and made to look a little like one of the brand’s iconic candles, these air fresheners bring some home comforts to your car.
The range of scents includes everything from Black Coconut to Fluffy Towels and Midsummers Night Air, and they’re good value, too. A pack of four vent sticks costs around £5, and each one should last for around two weeks.
7. Autoglym Autofresh: Best for use on upholstery
Price when reviewed: £8.04 | Check price at Amazon
The Autoglym name is synonymous with cleaning car exteriors, but it has a product for car interiors too. Called Autofresh, Autoglym’s solution comes in the form of a non-staining spray, and is made for targeting odours caused by dampness, pets, tobacco and traffic fumes.
Simply spray it on carpets, seats and other areas of the interior, and it will remove bad odours and replace them with a fresh, neutral scent. Users give rave reviews, as you would expect from an Autoglym product.