The Best Car Air Fresheners to Guarantee a Five-Star Ride

By: // Updated: August 29, 2020

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With all the people, personal belongings, and even service animals entering your vehicle each day, unpleasant odors can quickly add up. No one wants to be confined in a small space with bad smells, so investing in the best car air fresheners can improve your driving experience while increasing your tips.

Of course, not all air fresheners are the right answer to the bad odors in your car. There are fresheners that stop working within a week or have overpowering scents. Others simply don’t work at all. So how do you know which option to pick for this must-have rideshare supply?

In this article, we’ll take a look at air freshening features you should consider when shopping, and give you a list of great options for your next car air freshener purchase.

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Selecting Your Car Air Freshener Scent

Best car air fresheners: a pine tree air freshener hangs around a rear view mirror

In order to provide a pleasant experience for all your passengers, we always recommend a neutral scent when possible. This is best done with deodorizers that lift scents from your vehicle, rather than masking them with a scent.

However, understanding that some deodorizers don’t work perfectly, a widely enjoyed scent is a great way to go. Research has shown that citrus, peppermint, and ocean breeze are typical favorites. Regardless, selecting a subtle, fresh scent will keep most customers happy.

That said, we highly recommend avoiding extremely strong scent. For example, vanilla is an extremely popular smell, but in a relatively small space, it’s prone to intensifying into a sickly sweet scent. Avoiding strong odors also shows that you’re mindful to passengers with asthma, allergies, and other sensitivities.

It’s also important to note that passengers rarely enjoy chemical-based scents. Despite the fact that new car smells and Little Trees Black Ice air fresheners are widely popularized, they can cause headaches and breathing problems for 19% of Americans. These air fresheners lead to more complaints than any other, which is why nontoxic options are usually preferred when possible.

Best Car Air Fresheners for Rideshare Drivers

There’s no such thing as a perfect type of air freshener. Whether your car freshener is liquid, gel, charcoal, or something else, the most important thing is that they work. In this section, we’ll provide four of our favorite air fresheners, so you’ll never have to lose tips for bad odors again.

1. Moso Natural Air Purifying Bag

Best car air fresheners: Moso Natural Air Purifying Bag

Topping our list is this Moso product, which basically an eco-friendly bag filled with bamboo charcoal. Bamboo charcoal — also known as activated charcoal — is a proven natural air freshener that works to completely eliminate odors from your car.

All you need to do to make this work is stash it in your cup holder (not your passenger’s, of course), under a seat, or in any storage area of your car that will remain open. With the ability to cover 90 square feet, one bag is more than enough to cover even the largest UberXL rides. This air freshener lasts a stunning two years, as long as you “recharge” it in the sun once a month.

The only downside we’ve found to this air purifying bag is that its effect isn’t immediate. Because it is unscented — which is preferred by many riders — it won’t quickly mask an overpowering scent. For the rare case of a particularly bad smell, you may need a quick spritz of a scented air freshener for temporary reinforcement while you continue earning. However, the nontoxic bag will prove itself to be a complete odor eliminator within 24 hours.

Overall, the small investment will save you a significant amount of money over the course of two years. Another plus: This bag will act as a natural dehumidifier and mildew prevention tool.

You can purchase the Moso Natural Air Purifying Bag on Amazon for $9.95.

2. Febreze Car Air Fresheners

Best car air fresheners: Febreze Car Freshener

Febreze sells some of the most popular air fresheners in the entire industry, and that includes car air fresheners. Attached via vent clip, this product wastes no room and works best as your AC is turned on, circulating the scent throughout the vehicle.

These Febreze car vent clip air fresheners uniquely allow you to control the intensity of the scent using a dial at the on the side. However, we will note that this adjustment doesn’t do much to change the lifespan of the product. Febreze fresheners claim to work for 30 days, but most users will find that they typically only lasts two weeks in moderate weather. Because Febreze fresheners are liquid-based, that time span can decrease to 10 days in hot weather.

Still, these fresheners are fairly consistent while active, though naturally most potent on the first couple days of use. For a fair investment, and savings of up to 15% when you subscribe to bimonthly deliveries, the product is worth the cost. We recommend using the company’s original Linen & Sky and Hawaiian Aloha scents for subtle freshness. A strong consensus of reviewers have deemed Febreze’s Gain line to be overwhelming.

You can purchase the Febreze Car Air Freshener four-pack on Amazon for $12.39.

3. Ozium Smoke & Odors Eliminator Gel

Best car air fresheners: Ozium Smoke & Odor Eliminator Gel

Ozium is a long-trusted brand for air fresheners with powerful deodorizing capabilities. This gel-based product is used by plenty of Uber and Lyft drivers to completely erase smells left behind by pets, drunk passengers, and more. Even stubborn cigarette smoke smells should come out with this product after some waiting time.

This product does have a scent, but it isn’t strong enough to be an allergen for sensitive riders. Plus, it’s built to fit in most car cup holders. Though its lifespan isn’t as long as that of charcoal-based products, the Ozium car air freshener can last a few months. Plus, unlike fresheners on your air vent, you can extend its life by closing it when you’re not expecting to need it.

You can purchase the Ozium Smoke & Odors Eliminator Gel on Amazon for $9.25.

4. RoyAroma 30mm Car Aromatherapy Essential Oil Diffuser

Best car air fresheners: RoyAroma Car Aromatherapy Essential Oil Diffuser

Essential oil fresheners are growing in popularity, and manufacturers have created products to help your vehicle smell fresh naturally. This nontoxic air freshener option allows you to dab approximately five drops of essential oil onto a secure piece of felt, attach the product onto your vent, and enjoy the results.

The major downside to this product is that you will have to refill the diffusers every week (some users say every few days). However, because it only takes a few drops and you don’t need to re-purchase the product every time, this RoyAroma product remains a budget-friendly option. Plus, if you love changing things up, this diffuser allows you to play with different scents often.

Some final notes: Make sure to buy real essential oils for the longest scent, as cheaper products with more water won’t last as long due to evaporation. Also, make sure to store your oils in cool areas for best results.

You can purchase RoyAroma 30mm Car Aromatherapy Essential Oil Diffuser on Amazon for $10.99.

Frequently Asked Questions

Best car air fresheners: the view into a car through the driver's side window

Now that you have the best car air freshener options to choose from, it’s time to take your pick. Here are a few common questions to help you consider your choices:

1. Do electric air fresheners work better than traditional car air fresheners?

While many electric air fresheners may be refillable and have longer lifespans, not all are guaranteed to be better than traditional car air fresheners. The also tend to leave a stronger scent in your vehicle, which is a highly variable in desirability.

The primary reason we don’t recommend electric air fresheners for rideshare drivers is because they will increase battery drainage. When you’re already charging your phone for hours every day, you don’t want to drain your car battery even faster, which would mean more frequent out-of-pocket car expenses for you. Plus, some electric air fresheners are plug-ins that cannot be attached by USB and must replace your car charger, which is a definite no-go.

2. Are car air ionizers the same as car air fresheners?

While car air ionizers do have some air freshening capabilities, their primary purpose is not to provide a nice-smelling car. These products emit positive or negative ions to stop unwanted materials from floating in the air, so that you won’t have to deal with pollutants and allergens. This naturally reduces subtle bad odors, but ionizers mostly just remove irritants in the air.

3. Can I use my car air fresheners in my home when I’m off the clock?

Car air fresheners are rarely effective in homes. With the exception of the Moso air freshener, these products are built to be used in small spaces. While they may seem powerful in your vehicle, they can go unnoticed in a full-sized room. Plus, using your car air freshener in multiple spaces with constantly circulating air can reduce its lifespan.

Treat Your Riders to Five-Star Scents

When your vehicle offers passengers five-star scents, you’ll find yourself getting five-star ratings. Keeping your car clean is a requirement for Lyft and Uber drivers, and when your vehicle smells as fresh as it looks, riders won’t have anything to complain about.

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