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10 Best Car Air Fresheners for Neutralizing Bad Odors

Air fresheners for cars and trucks are not top of mind auto accessories. They are impulse items and that’s why they are displayed at checkout stands at gas stations, convenience stores, and auto parts stores.

Unless your ride reeks of wet dog or ten-day-old French fries, you probably don’t give much thought about the odors in your car, until someone else does. When your spouse, carpool buddy, or kid asks you what that stink is, you might consider picking up a car air freshener to restore your reputation.

But which one to get? There are literally dozens to choose from. Keep in mind, car air fresheners are not necessarily car air purifiers. Most work by neutralizing odors or masking odors with a “pleasing scent.” Some claim to do both.

Here are what we think are ten of the best air auto air fresheners you can buy.

​Best Car Air Fresheners 2020

Febreze has been making things smell nice for what seems like forever. Their clip-on car air freshener features their “Odor Clear Technology” which both neutralizes odors and injects a light, fresh scent into the interior.

How much it releases is controlled by your selection of settings. Placed on low, your Febreze car freshener will las nearly a month. Set on high you’ll get about o week’s worth of “light and fresh.”

This product is designed to remove the odors you have become “nose blind” to but are obvious to others.

PURGGO Car Air Freshener

Quick Specs
  • Rating: 4.2 / 5
  • Brand: PURGGO
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Bamboo charcoal is used by thousands as an environmentally safe air freshener in homes and offices. It is one of the few “fresheners” that removes the smell of tobacco smoke.

That plus it lasts for a least a year requiring only infrequent “recharging” consisting of direct exposure to sunlight, makes bamboo charcoal one of the best values in the air freshener biz.

Purggo is a German company who packs bamboo charcoal in a hemp pouch equipped with a hanging loop, and markets as a car air freshener.

The loop fits over the driver or passenger’s headrest suspending the pouch behind the seat. It’s not the most aesthetic accessory, but it works and lasts forever.

Activated charcoal is known for its filtration capabilities and Moso offers up a small, car-size, linen bag packed with 200 grams of the stuff as an auto air freshener.

The Moso bag easily fits in a cup holder or a flat spot on your console. If nobody regularly sits in the back seat, toss a bag back there. Even if it slides onto the floor, it will still be neutralizing odors.

Like the Purggo, the Moso bag needs to be exposed to direct sunlight for about an hour once per month.

We hesitate to call this product a car air freshener because it can easily be used in a home or office. The linen bag measures about 7 inches square and is not unattractive. A good buy for your car or home.

Little Trees Black Ice Air Freshener

Quick Specs
  • Rating: 4.1 / 5
  • Brand: Little Trees
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​In 1954 the Patent Office issued a patent for “odor-destroying, air-perfuming substances,” to a Canadian born chemist who was inspired by his milkman’s complaint about the smell of spoiled milk in his truck.

Ever since then, the Little Tree car air freshener has been proudly hanging from American rearview mirrors right next to the high school graduation tassels and fuzzy dice.

Available in 34 “scents” and marketed in a 24 pack, your Little Tree freshener will cover up offending smells for about a week before needing to be replaced.

​Ozium spray is used by detailers to give their projects a fresh, clean scent. Ozium tubs are marketed as car air fresheners.

Basically, the tubs (which fit under the seat) are filled with Ozium gel (the same stuff used in the spray) which is released through adjustable vents in the jar lid.

Like charcoal, Ozium’s big claim to fame is its ability to remove the smell of tobacco smoke. It comes in a four-pack and each tub typically lasts 2 to 4 months depending on how you set the vents.

​The Meguiar Whole Car Air Refresher Odor Eliminator is like a bug bomb for your car. This is a one-time treatment to eliminate all the nasty smells from the interior including vents, headliners, and other difficult to reach spots.

Turn on your engine, set you’re a/c to recirculate, turn the fan on to high, set off the aerosol canister, and leave the car for 10-15 minutes. The mist will circulate through your ventilation system eliminating odors and leaving you with a new car scent. After the “bomb” has done its job, air the car out for 15 minutes before driving. This is a quick fix to odor issues.

​If you have geek DNA coursing through your veins, you’re going to love Frieq’s Car Air Purifier. This tubular-shaped, multi-functional “purifier,” is powered by sliding it into your cigarette lighter power source.

It has two USB ports perfect for charging your phone and tablet, an LED crystal that gives off an eerie blue light, and it’s an ionizer pumping out 5.63 million negative ions per cubic centimeter.

Negative ions attract and attach to molecules from dander, fungi, and of course offending smells, and pull them out of the air. Like charcoal, the “purification” process takes a few days but results in truly cleaner air. Good for allergies and makes an excellent conversational piece.

Yankee Candle Car Jar Ultimate

Quick Specs
  • Rating: 3.6 / 5
  • Brand: Yankee Candle
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​Yankee candles are upscale scented candles found in discerning stationary and furnishing stores. They have an infused paperboard product that they sell as an auto air freshener they call Yankee Car Jar Ultimate.

With scents named Pink Sands, Bahamas Breeze, and Midnight Jasmine, think feminine Little Tree freshener. This product masks the smell of unwanted odors and will give you a more engaging scent for about 2 to 4 weeks before you need to hang a new one.

​The Citrus Magic Solid Air Freshener is another multi-use air cleaner product recommended for use in the basement, laundry room, and bathroom, pet areas, closets, and of course cars.

It’s light on providing a fragrance but heavy on neutralizing unwanted smells. It is solid and weighs about 8 ounces so this is another “under the seat” car air freshener.

The fragrance will disappear after about 4 weeks but the odor control can last for a total of 8 weeks.

Chemical Guys New Premium Air Freshener

Quick Specs
  • Rating: 3.3 / 5
  • Brand: Chemical Guys
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​Detailers consider Chemical Guys as their go-to source for all things related to cleaning cars and trucks. They make foams, detergents, clay bars, and of course, air fresheners.

The Chemical Guys Premium New Car Smell is engineered at the molecular level to break down intrusive odors and replace them with a version of “new car smell.” It’s a spray that can be used on all fabric surfaces including seats, carpets, headliners, and even the carpet in your trunk without staining or damaging your fabric.

It lasts a couple of weeks between sprays. It comes in a 16 oz. spray bottle that can be diluted with distilled water to stretch out effectiveness. Use this car air freshener to get rid of food, pet, mildew, and smoke smells and gain that brand new car smell!

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