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Do Air Fresheners Really Work | What’S In Air Freshener? | Ingredients With George Zaidan (Episode 6) The 73 Top Answers

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Most air fresheners don’t actually kill a bad smell. Rather than remove the smell from the room, masking fresheners simply cover a bad smell with another scent, which appears more pleasant to our senses.From a health perspective, air fresheners have been associated with adverse effects, such as migraine headaches, asthma attacks, mucosal symptoms, infant illness, and breathing difficulties.Spray an air freshener and it may mitigate bad house smells momentarily. But, plug-in air fresheners combat unpleasant odors continuously, masking or even eliminating them completely. These products come in a number of different formats and typically work by heating oil or wax to aerosolize or vaporize fragrances.

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Join MIT-trained chemist and science educator George Zaidan as he tries to recreate everyday household products like toothpaste, lipstick, or shaving cream using only natural ingredients… and no recipe! He’ll have to decode long lists of intimidating chemical names, figure out what they all do, try and find natural substitutes, and then cook up the do-it-yourself versions in his chemistry lab (kitchen). While George may or may not succeed, we’ll all learn something new and surprising about the products we take for granted every day.
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What’s in Air Freshener? | Ingredients With George Zaidan (Episode 6)
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Why you should not use air fresheners?

From a health perspective, air fresheners have been associated with adverse effects, such as migraine headaches, asthma attacks, mucosal symptoms, infant illness, and breathing difficulties.

Do plug in air fresheners work?

Spray an air freshener and it may mitigate bad house smells momentarily. But, plug-in air fresheners combat unpleasant odors continuously, masking or even eliminating them completely. These products come in a number of different formats and typically work by heating oil or wax to aerosolize or vaporize fragrances.

Are air fresheners worth it?

They’re kind of a waste of money

You can make your car smell like ‘new car’ or ‘black ice’, but chances are if you want to keep that scent fresh, you’re going to have to switch out your air freshener more often than not.

How long does air freshener stay in the air?

How Long Does Room Spray Last? Generally, room spray aroma should last for 1-3 days when sprayed in the air – depending on the air circulation of the space.

How can I make my house smell good all the time?

  1. Clean your garbage disposal. Notice a stale stink in your kitchen? …
  2. Refresh carpets and rugs. Go One Step Further. …
  3. Spruce up your trash can. …
  4. Simmer herbs and fruit on the stove. …
  5. Scatter candles throughout your house. …
  6. Bring the outside in. …
  7. Freshen up your air vents. …
  8. Deodorize with dryer sheets.

How can I make my room smell better?

How to Make Your Room Smell Fresh in 10 Easy Steps
  1. Identify the odor.
  2. Dust your room from top to bottom.
  3. Clean your floors.
  4. Open your windows.
  5. Bathe your pets.
  6. Wash your sheets and laundry.
  7. Clean all upholstery.
  8. Turn on a dehumidifier.

Why can’t I smell my air freshener?

Have you ever wondered why after a few weeks you can’t smell the air freshener in your house or car as much or when people say they like your perfume even though you can’t smell it? This phenomenon goes by many names, like Olfactory fatigue or olfactory adaptation.

Can you leave plug-in air fresheners on all the time?

But, you shouldn’t leave these air fresheners plugged in forever, either. Fire chiefs told the Daily Mail that if they are left plugged in for extended periods of time, they may eventually become so warm that they cause an electrical fire.

Why won’t my plug ins smell?

Whether using a plug-in oil diffuser, Air Wick Plug-in or Glade Plug-in, scents can sometimes get compromised when they mix with oil residues from previous use. Cleaning the plug-in oil warmer helps ensure the scent it emits comes from the oil you chose and not the ghosts of oils past.

What is the most effective room deodorizer?

The best air fresheners
  1. Febreze Air Freshener Spray Heavy Duty Crisp Clean. …
  2. Mrs. …
  3. Lysol Max Cover Disinfectant Spray. …
  4. Moso Natural Air Purifying Bag. …
  5. Poo Pourri Original Toilet Spray. …
  6. Glade PlugIns Scented Oil Warmer. …
  7. Febreze Small Spaces Air Freshener – Peony & Cedar. …
  8. Yankee Candle Just Plain Clean Odor Eliminating Beads.

Which is the best air freshener for home?

8 Room Fresheners To Keep Your Home Smelling Like A Dream
  1. Ambi Pur Lavender Bouquet Air Freshener. …
  2. Godrej Aer Home Air Freshener Spray. …
  3. Airance Automatic Air Freshener Dispenser. …
  4. AirRoma Lemongrass Air Freshener. …
  5. Premium Lavender Lace Room Freshener. …
  6. Odonil Room Spray Home Freshener, Rose.

What is the strongest air freshener?

Activated charcoal works as a strong, natural air freshener, and reviewers say these are the best air fresheners on the market because they’re effective, reusable, and you get 15 bags.

What are the benefits of air freshener?

An air freshener helps in removing these odours to make sure the bathroom always smells fresh and clean. Automatic air fresheners are also great as they help prevent odours occurring in the first place. By regularly releasing pleasant smells into the air, it masks any unpleasant odours before and after they occur.

Can you use air freshener in bedroom?

Spray air freshener throughout your room, then open doors and windows to let your room air out. You can also turn on a fan to circulate the air and distribute the air freshener as well. Light some candles; they could put you in a good mood as well as smell nice.

Are Febreze plug-in air fresheners safe?

Contrary to rumors alleging that Febreze causes serious illness or death in pets, our veterinary toxicology experts at ASPCA regard Febreze fabric freshener products to be safe for use in households with pets. As with any product, it is important that you always follow label instructions for use.

Are spray air fresheners harmful?

Briefly inhaling a small amount of a spray air freshener might cause some coughing, choking, or difficulty catching the breath. These effects should get better quickly with fresh air. Swallowing air freshener can cause toxicity ranging from minor irritation of the mouth to life-threatening effects.

Are air fresheners cancerous?

Researchers have measured and identified air freshener chemicals that are linked to cancer, neurotoxicity, and effects from endocrine disruption. Not to mention a large portion of the population experiences headaches and respiratory difficulty from exposure to fragrance.

Are plug-in air fresheners harmful?

Compounding the risks posed by formaldehyde, most major brands of plug-in air fresheners contain a chemical known as naphthalene. They have shown that Naphthalene can cause tissue damage and cancer in the lungs of rodents in laboratory studies.

What can I use instead of air fresheners?

Ditch the chemicals and use a natural air freshener to get rid of stinky smells.
  • Pomander Balls. I gift pomander balls during the holiday season, but they’re more than a sweet homemade gesture. …
  • Essential Oils. Essential oils are natural deodorizers. …
  • Baking Soda. …
  • Coffee. …
  • Vinegar. …
  • Fragrant House Plants. …
  • Natural Candles.

Air Fresheners: Everything You Need to Know

Air fresheners are everywhere. In public toilets, at work, in your house and sometimes hanging from the mirror in your car, but how do they work?

Do they really eliminate odours? Can they hurt us? How are they different from perfume?

Here’s everything you need to know about air fresheners…

How do Air Fresheners Work?

Air fresheners use “volatile substances”, which simply means that the molecules easily change form from liquid to gas (even at room temperature). Our sense of smell is tuned in to detect gas molecules drifting around the air, more so than it is to detect liquids.

Spray air fresheners, which are still the most popular freshener type, are aerosols. The word aerosol means “dissolves in air”, so the liquid that shoots out of an air freshener under pressure quickly evaporates when released into the standard pressure of open air.

The aerosol propellant is mixed with fragrance molecules before being released into the air, where it covers up the bad odours. Most of the time, they simply replace a bad smell with a stronger, nicer smell. Certain air fresheners also aim to reduce your sensitivity towards smells; so, instead of masking once scent with another, they anesthetise your nose to reduce your sensitivity to bad scents (reducing their unpleasant impact).

How do Odour Eliminators Work?

Most air fresheners don’t actually kill a bad smell. Rather than remove the smell from the room, masking fresheners simply cover a bad smell with another scent, which appears more pleasant to our senses. So, what about the air fresheners that claim to eliminate bad smells? How do they do it?

The key to odour eliminating air fresheners is a molecule called cyclodextrin. This is a donut shaped molecule suspended in a water carrier. Due to cyclodextrin’s hydrophobic interior, it attracts the odour molecules in the air. As the water dries, the molecules on the interior of the cyclodextrin are encapsulated inside, therefore reducing their volatility and minimising their smell.

Are Air Fresheners Harmful?

Whilst there are articles around that would argue otherwise, when used in moderation and safely, air fresheners are not dangerous.

When used sparingly and sensibly, standard air fresheners aren’t likely to cause any trouble. However, it’s important to remember that they’re not advised for people with serious lung conditions or allergies towards the air freshener’s contents.

How are Air Fresheners Different from Perfumes?

Aside from costing a lot more, perfumes are quite different from your standard aerosol air fresheners. Perfumes use compounds that are “unstable”, meaning the water molecules break away from each other, diffusing in the air. This process is sped up by heat and a surface area exposed to air, which is why perfumes are ideally placed on open areas on the skin, such as the neck.

Air fresheners, on the other hand, either drift around in the air to mask a bad smell or bind with other volatile smells to neutralise them.

How do Car Air Fresheners Work?

Car air fresheners are simply items. The molecules that are used in them are highly volatile. This means they easily turn from liquid to gas. In this way, when the freshener is impacted by air pushes through from the air filters in the car, the freshener’s smell gets blasted through the air. While that sounds a little complex, it essentially means that the freshener releases the fragrant gas that we know as a pleasant smell!

Are Air Fresheners Eco Friendly?

Some air fresheners add VOCs (volatile organic compounds) to the environment. The contribute to toxic chemicals in the atmosphere and impact the ozone layer and are bad for the environment. Many every day items create VOCs.

Luckily, there are great numbers of businesses selling eco-friendly fresheners. There are a number of aerosol-free products (including this one on our website) that are much better for the environment than sprays.

Air Fresheners from Direct365

At Direct365, we offer air freshener services and supplies, from our dispenser installation and refill service to our product range of sprays and fragrances.

To make your workplace or washroom smell as fresh as ever, trust in Direct365.

The Best Plug-In Air Fresheners of 2022

Spray an air freshener and it may mitigate bad house smells momentarily. But, plug-in air fresheners combat unpleasant odors continuously, masking or even eliminating them completely. These products come in a number of different formats and typically work by heating oil or wax to aerosolize or vaporize fragrances. Although air purifiers sanitize the air by filtering out dust, mold spores, pet dander, and more.

While choosing the best plug-in air freshener might seem like a simple decision, there are a number of considerations to weigh. This guide explores important features and considerations and some of the top products on the market.

Types of Plug-in Air Fresheners

There are four basic types of plug-in air fresheners for unpleasant odors: heated oils and sprays, wax warmers, essential oil diffusers, and air purifiers. Each provides varying benefits and offers differing levels of convenience, longevity, and additional features.

Heated Oil and Spray

These standard plug-in air fresheners are energy efficient, emitting a fairly strong fragrance while using a minimal amount of electricity. They feature cartridges filled with a wide variety of scented oils, which are then aerosolized and sprayed into the room. Most models are compatible with any refill cartridge from the same brand. Each cartridge lasts between 30 and 60 days, though longevity varies from brand to brand.

Some folks find the fragrance from this type of air freshener to be overpowering, but there are products that let you control the level of scent emitted, adjusting it to room size or user preference. Be mindful of standard plug-in air fresheners when it comes to children and pets, because heated oils and sprays are dangerous if ingested.

Wax Warmers

Wax warmers act as a safer alternative to burning candles, relying on either a light bulb or a warming plate as a heat source instead of an open flame. Bulbs for plug-in wax warmers range from 25 to 40 watts, and various models may emit soft, ambient light to mimic a candle. While some models may come with wax, it can also be purchased separately.

These products feature a heat-resistant bowl where users place wax melts or pucks that come in various natural and synthetic fragrances. The wax takes several hours to cool completely and should not be accessible to children or pets. Each wax melt lasts for up to 10 hours.

Essential Oil Diffusers

Essential oils are natural, plant-derived substances said to have a number of aromatherapeutic benefits. Essential oil diffusers heat essential oils to break them down and dispense the smaller particles into the air. Most models also use water to provide both a humidifying and air- freshening effect.

While the water reservoir must be refilled daily, only a few drops of essential oil are required. Some oil diffusers are sold with essential oils while others require that you purchase them separately. Essential oil diffusers should only be used for half an hour at a time because prolonged exposure to essential oils may have negative health effects.

Air Purifiers

Air purifiers actually eliminate unpleasant odors rather than simply covering them up. Not only that, but they also improve air quality by removing dust, pollen, mold, and pet dander. They are the ideal choice for reducing airborne contaminants that aggravate allergy symptoms and cause respiratory issues. They draw in odors and particles from the air, then use filters to purify the air before recirculating it into the room.

The highest-quality filters are known as HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filters. They have been certified to trap 99.97 percent of all particles that are 0.3 microns or larger in size. HEPA filters must be changed every 3 to 6 months.

When choosing an air purifier, consider the size of your space. Most manufacturers will stipulate the ideal room size for their product and provide an air change per hour (ACH) rate, which lets users know how many times per hour it will filter all of the air in the room.

What to Consider When Choosing the Best Plug-in Air Freshener

A number of factors and product features may affect a plug-in air freshener’s scent, settings, aesthetic, convenience, and overall quality. Keep reading to learn important considerations when shopping for the best plug-in air freshener for unpleasant home smells.


When choosing an air freshener, first consider where it will be placed. While a stronger fragrance may be a great choice for a large open space, it may be overpowering in a small bathroom. Also, consider any pets or young children in the household, and be sure to place the plug-in air freshener out of their reach.

Note that your vehicle may also benefit from a plug-in product. Some are designed to be plugged into a car’s 2-volt outlet, while others use a USB cable. They’re convenient for covering up the smell of fast food or stinky sports equipment. They typically power on when the engine is running to avoid wasting the car’s battery.


One of the primary considerations when choosing an air freshener is whether to go with a scented or unscented version. Standard air fresheners, as well as essential oil diffusers and wax warmers, feature a wide variety of fresh scents that can be swapped out seasonally or depending on your preference.

Decide whether natural aromas from essential oils or synthetic scents are the better choice for your household, keeping in mind that some artificial smells may act as irritants to allergy sufferers. Also remember that air purifiers eliminate odors without emitting any additional scent.


Each type of plug-in air freshener can feature a range of settings.

Some standard air fresheners allow users to control the level of fragrance emitted based on how strong they want the smell to be. Others feature night-lights that are convenient for late-night bathroom trips.

allow users to control the level of fragrance emitted based on how strong they want the smell to be. Others feature night-lights that are convenient for late-night bathroom trips. Essential oil diffusers may include timers, ambient light settings, and auto-shutoff features that detect low water levels.

may include timers, ambient light settings, and auto-shutoff features that detect low water levels. Air purifiers often feature different fan settings, timers, and filter change indicators. They may also include smart technology, allowing users to control them remotely via a smartphone or a tablet.


When choosing an air freshener that will be placed in a visible location, the product’s appearance is a key consideration.

Heated oil and spray air fresheners typically have a simple plastic design and display the color of the oil or liquid.

air fresheners typically have a simple plastic design and display the color of the oil or liquid. Wax warmers vary widely in appearance, with options to suit a number of different decor styles. They may have either a natural, a contemporary, or a bohemian aesthetic.

vary widely in appearance, with options to suit a number of different decor styles. They may have either a natural, a contemporary, or a bohemian aesthetic. Essential oil diffusers come in a variety of shapes and sizes and feature casings made from plastic, wood, glass, and terra cotta.

come in a variety of shapes and sizes and feature casings made from plastic, wood, glass, and terra cotta. Air purifiers often feature streamlined modern designs that help them blend in with existing decor items.


Some shoppers may prioritize convenience when choosing a plug-in air freshener. Air purifiers offer optimal convenience since their filters only need to be changed a few times per year. Essential oil diffusers, on the other hand, need their water reservoirs filled daily.

When shopping for a standard plug-in air freshener, look for a model that is compatible with both vertical and horizontal outlets that can be plugged in upside down if necessary.

Our Top Picks

The following recommendations take into account the abovementioned factors and features for choosing the best plug-in air freshener, in addition to overall quality and value. Check out these top options in a variety of categories for eliminating unpleasant odors and controlling the air quality in your home.

Best Overall 1 Febreze Odor-eliminating Plug Air Freshener Photo: Check Latest Price This heated oil set from Febreze packs a serious punch—and some pleasant scents. It includes the plug-in warmer as well as one to two refill cartridges, each of which features two rotating, complementary scents that feature notes of lily and pear. Use the highest setting for large open spaces and the lowest setting for smaller rooms. Each cartridge operates for 1,200 hours (approximately 50 days) at the lowest setting. The warmer is also compatible with all other versions of Febreze plug-in cartridges for more tropical, musky, or floral scents. The warmer is compatible with both horizontal and vertical outlets and can be placed upside down if necessary. Product Specs Type: Heated oil

Heated oil Scent(s): Clean linen, lily, and pear

Clean linen, lily, and pear Longevity: 50 days (per refill) Pros Refill cartridges

Suitable for large and small spaces

Compatible with horizontal and vertical outlets

Compact and lightweight Cons Should not be used in enclosed areas with pets

Cannot be used with extension cords

Not compatible with wet or moist areas Get the Febreze plug-in air freshener at Amazon, Target, and Walmart.

Best Bang for the Buck 2 Air Wick Plug in Scented Oil Starter Kit Photo: Check Latest Price Air Wick’s scented oil starter kit features two warmers and six refills at a budget-friendly price. Control the amount of fragrance emitted by choosing from five settings for tackling cooking, musty, and pet odors. This kit provides a lavender aroma for 360 days on the lowest setting, with each cartridge lasting for approximately 60 days. The oil is free of dyes and phthalates and contains natural fragrances, which include notes of lavender essence as well as chamomile and woods. The packing materials and glass cartridges are recyclable to make the product eco-friendly. The refills are also compatible with all other Air Wick plug-in air fresheners. Product Specs Type: Heated oil

Heated oil Scent(s): Lavender and chamomile

Lavender and chamomile Longevity: 60 days (per refill) Pros Extra refills

5 settings

Lasts for 360 days total on the lowest setting

Dye- and phthalate-free

Recyclable and eco-friendly Cons Some users report issues with the scent quality Get the Air Wick Starter Kit at Amazon, The Home Depot, and Walmart.

Best Eco-Friendly 3 Air Wick Botanica Plug in Scented Oil Starter Kit Photo: Check Latest Price Air Wick’s Botanica line is tough on unpleasant smells and gentle on the planet. The oil contains responsibly sourced ingredients and no chemical propellants, dyes, or phthalates, and it was not tested on animals. The scent features Caribbean sweetgrass and sandalwood, and the sweetgrass essential oil is responsibly sourced from Haiti. It comes in a 100 percent recyclable box and is made in a zero-waste plant. The kit includes two warmers and six refills, each of which provides up to 60 days of pleasant, warm aromas on the lowest setting. Air Wick also makes a number of other eco-friendly Botanica fragrances, including French Lavender and Honey, Pineapple and Tunisian Rosemary, and Himalayan Magnolia and Vanilla. Product Specs Type: Heated oil

Heated oil Scent(s): Caribbean sweetgrass and sandalwood, French lavender and honey, pineapple and Tunisian rosemary, and Himalayan magnolia and vanilla

Caribbean sweetgrass and sandalwood, French lavender and honey, pineapple and Tunisian rosemary, and Himalayan magnolia and vanilla Longevity: 60 days (per refill) Pros Free of propellants, dyes, and phthalates


Responsibly-sourced oil

100 percent recyclable packaging Cons Some users report poor scent quality Get the Air Wick Scented Oil Starter Kit at Amazon, Sears, and Walmart.

Best Diffuser 4 Pure Daily Care Ultimate Aromatherapy Diffuser Set Photo: Check Latest Price Pure Daily Care makes an excellent starter kit for those interested in aromatherapy. This diffuser comes with 10 therapeutic-grade essential oils, including lavender, eucalyptus, tea tree, orange, peppermint, lemongrass, jasmine, nutmeg, clove, and spearmint. Each is packaged in a 10-milliliter amber jar that protects the oil from sun degradation. The diffuser itself is made from BPA-free plastic with a wood grain design and has a 400-milliliter capacity. It features seven ambient light modes with two light intensity settings as well as a timer and an auto-shutoff feature that detects low water levels. Product Specs Type: Essential oil diffuser

Essential oil diffuser Scent(s): Lavender, eucalyptus, tea tree, orange, peppermint, lemongrass, jasmine, nutmeg, clove, and spearmint

Lavender, eucalyptus, tea tree, orange, peppermint, lemongrass, jasmine, nutmeg, clove, and spearmint Longevity: Unlimited Pros Suitable for aromatherapy

10 essential oils with amber jars for sun protection

BPA-free plastic construction

400-millimeter capacity

7 ambient light modes Cons No longevity between reloads listed

Pricey compared to similar options Get the Pure Daily Care diffuser set at Amazon, Sears, and Walmart.

Best Air Purifier 5 LEVOIT Smart WiFi Air Purifier for Home Photo: Check Latest Price LEVOIT smart air purifier connects to a Wi-Fi network, allowing users to control it remotely from a smartphone or a tablet. Eliminate 99.97 percent of airborne contaminants that are 0.3 microns in size, including dust, pollen, mold, and pet dander, using the ultrafine nylon prefilter, activated carbon filter, and HEPA filter. In a 183-square-foot room, this air purifier circulates air five times per hour and twice per hour in a 376-square-foot room. For uninterrupted sleep, users can turn off all display lights while the purifier is operating. Sleep mode also operates quietly at just 24 decibels, while “high-speed” mode produces 45 decibels of sound, which is comparable to the sound of a fridge running. Product Specs Type: Air purifier

Air purifier Scent(s): N/A

N/A Longevity: Unlimited Pros Connects to Wi-Fi networks; controllable through smartphones and tablets

Removes 99.97 percent of airborne contaminants

3-step filtration system

Circulates air multiple times per hour

Night mode Cons Pricey

No air quality sensor built-in Get the LEVOIT Smart WiFi air purifier at Amazon, Target, and Walmart.

Best Mini Air Purifier 6 Germ Guardian Pluggable Air Purifier & Sanitizer Photo: Check Latest Price Many plug-in air purifiers sit on a tabletop, but mini models rest directly on a wall outlet, taking up minimal space. Despite its compact size, this Germ Guardian product is powerful enough to sanitize the air in small spaces. Rather than filters, it uses UV-C light to remove airborne germs and viruses and reduce volatile organic compounds (VOCs). The light actually alters the genetic structure of particles like influenza, killing them before they are breathed in. Each bulb lasts for between 4,000 and 5,000 hours. Product Specs Type: Air purifier

Air purifier Scent(s): N/A

N/A Longevity: 4,000 to 5,000 hours Pros Compatible with standard wall outlets

UV-C light technology; removes VOCs, germs, and viruses

Compact, lightweight design Cons Not suitable for large spaces

Replacement bulbs sold separately Get the Germ Guardian mini air purifier at Amazon, The Home Depot, and Walmart.

Best for Bathroom 7 Mindful Design Frosted Pagoda Wax Warmer Plug-In Photo: Check Latest Price To bring a spa-style vibe to any bathroom, consider this Mindful Design product. As a wax warmer, it provides the peaceful ambiance of a scented candle without the stress of an open flame. The pagoda-shaped warmer has a wood frame and glass siding, and it uses a glowing filament bulb to create a gentle golden glow for a relaxing atmosphere. The outlet cord features a toggle switch so users can easily turn the warmer off when leaving the room. The bowl is removable for easy cleanup once the wax has cooled. The wax is not included; purchase soy-based wax for the best results. Product Specs Type: Wax warmer

Wax warmer Scent(s): Universal

Universal Longevity: 4 to 8 hours Pros Removable dish

Toggle switch turn-on

Produces aroma and light Cons Wax not included

Should be used with soy-based waxes for best results Get the Mindful Design plug-in air freshener at Amazon, Walmart, and Target.

Best for Car 8 InnoGear Car Diffuser, USB Essential Oil Diffuser Photo: Check Latest Price Make commuting more relaxing with this USB-powered essential oil diffuser. While it’s designed to fit in a car’s cupholder, it’s also a great choice for a small workspace since it plugs directly into a computer’s USB outlet. Fill the 150-milliliter reservoir with water and add a few drops of the essential oil of your choosing. The casing is made using BPA-free plastic, and it emits an ambient glow when powered on. It features both a continuous and an intermittent mode as well as auto-shutoff when the water runs out. A USB adapter must be purchased separately. Product Specs Type: Essential oil diffuser

Essential oil diffuser Scent(s): Universal

Universal Longevity: Unlimited Pros BPA-free construction

Fits in a car’s cup holder

Suitable for use in cars or other small spaces

150-millimeter reservoir

Ambient glow Cons Some users report manufacturing defects Get the InnoGear Car diffuser on Amazon.

Our Verdict

For a lightweight, compact, and effective option, we recommend the Febreze plug-in air freshener. This air freshener works in small and large spaces, comes in 3 fresh fragrances, and one refill lasts for over 50 days before needing a replacement. Alternatively, for a budget-friendly option, the Air Wick plug-in starter kit comes with over 350 hours of usage and has multiple settings for adjustable odor control in multiple spaces.

How We Chose the Best Plug-In Air Fresheners

We researched the most sought-after plug-in air fresheners in their respective categories and discovered that the best options are determined by their type, size, fragrances offered, longevity, ease of setup and use, and other special features included by top brands.

To ensure our list included top picks that satisfied a range of preferences, we included heated oil models, essential oil diffusers, air purifiers, and wax melts that are compact enough to fit standard wall outlets as well as tabletops and vehicles. While many options come with various fragrances, some options remove unpleasant odors with air purification and elimination without the use of natural or artificial fragrances.

Though some options on our list provide unlimited usage, all of the other products listed above offer odor control for 4 hours to as long as 360 days at a time in small to large rooms. Each option is also easy to set up and use by simply plugging in or refilling a reservoir with water and compatible essential oils. Plus, these air fresheners are suitable for use in living room, kitchen, automotive, and bathroom spaces and their odors.


Here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about plug-in air fresheners for bad home smells.

Q: Do plug-in air fresheners use a lot of electricity?

Plug-in air fresheners are very energy efficient, using an average of 4 watts of power.

Q: Are plug-in air fresheners a fire hazard?

While some plug-in air fresheners have been blamed for causing fires, this is extremely rare. These incidents are typically caused by faulty wiring.

Q: What is the most effective air freshener?

Air purifiers are more powerful than traditional air fresheners because they actually filter and eliminate dust and mold particles to clean the air in your home. The LEVOIT Smart WiFi Air Purifier for Home is one of the best air purifier options available.

Q: What is the longest-lasting plug-in air freshener?

The Air Wick Plug in Scented Oil Starter Kit is one of the most long-lasting plug-in air fresheners on the market, with the included cartridges lasting for a total of 360 days.

Q: How often do plug-in air fresheners need to be replaced?

The cartridges on standard plug-in air fresheners typically need to be replaced every 30 to 60 days, depending on the brand.

Reasons to Avoid Car Air Fresheners Might Surprise You

Air fresheners have been a part of car ownership for as long as I can remember. You see them casually in the check-out lanes of the local market, hanging from more than a handful of rearview mirrors in a parking lot, and even see fancier ones at a high-end candle and scent stores. They seem so normal and widely used that we don’t really think twice about grabbing a Black Ice and throwing it into our car to help hide the scent of french fries, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a good thing for you or your car.

Don’t hang your air fresheners

While it is fairly common to see plenty of objectives hanging from people’s rearview mirrors, one of the most common is air fresheners. But, you may not realize that in most states hanging any object from your rearview mirror is actually illegal. Most police officers may not give you a ticket for having them, but there is a valid reason behind it — having anything hanging in your windshield can obstruct your vision. For many people, this doesn’t seem like a big deal, but when you end up piling an endless number of air fresheners on top of each other, it can become pretty annoying to see around.

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Wildlife Biologist Corey Rossi uses a video camera to document migratory birds near a landfill June 4, 2006 in Browerville, Alaska |Justin Sullivan, Getty Images

Damaging your car

There is an entire market surrounding our desire to keep our cars smelling fresh and clean. A submitter from TopGear claims that the oil residue from an air freshener damages their car’s interior, namely the plastic trim that sits around the air vent. This claim has been echoed by many other drivers, though most of the claims haven’t been substantiated. In fact, in a lawsuit, Fabreze claimed that they were aware of this potential problem. Of course, any time you are using chemicals unnecessarily in your car, there is a risk of damage — a risk most people shouldn’t be willing to take, as repairing car interior can be pretty costly.

An Energizer Holdings Inc. Driven by Refresh Your Car! brand gel air freshener is displayed for a photograph | Daniel Acker/Bloomberg, Getty Images

RELATED: Illegal Things You Didn’t Realize You Were Doing to Your Car

They’re kind of a waste of money

Sure, the first few days of using an air freshener can be great. You can make your car smell like ‘new car’ or ‘black ice’, but chances are if you want to keep that scent fresh, you’re going to have to switch out your air freshener more often than not. Some stores offer more expensive versions with fancy clips that decorate your dashboard, and while you can find them for just a few dollars, the price of some options can get surprisingly steep. Really, the best way to keep your car smelling fresh is to keep it cleaned and well-detailed.

An American flag air freshener hangs from the rearview mirror of a cab | Greg Kahn, Getty Images

RELATED: Worst Foods To Try To Eat While Driving

While the risks of using air fresheners don’t really outweigh the benefits, it might make you think twice next time you go to grab one for your car. As always, it’s easier to keep your car clean and use automative detailing spray that will leave your car looking, feeling, and smelling clean, without the need for air fresheners to begin with.

How to Make Your Room Spray Last Longer

In seconds, room spray helps revitalize your favorite spaces to deliver lasting freshness. It’s the go-to way to quickly refresh your bathrooms, bedrooms and even your car’s interior. But what if you want to extend the time between spritzes and conserve every last drop?

Our essential oil room spray gives you 4 ounces of natural scent power to deliver continued aroma. Housed in recyclable glass spray bottles, each type skips the synthetic fragrances of a scented candle or toxic plug-in and utilizes the natural properties of 100% pure essential oils. The aromas are so profound and complex, each could easily work as a natural perfume.

How Long Does Room Spray Last?

Generally, room spray aroma should last for 1-3 days when sprayed in the air – depending on the air circulation of the space. When sprayed on fabrics or bedding, room spray aroma can last up to a few weeks.

Room Spray Tips

With our simple suggestions for extending the staying power of room spray, you can save time and money. In this guide, we break down how to make your room spray last longer and offer a few other quick ideas for keeping your home aroma fresh.

Whether you’re having a family get-together or looking to add an aromatic touch to your linens, we’ve got you covered with these easy Room Spray tips.

Spray Sparingly

Formulated with purpose, our room sprays are incredibly potent. Keep in mind that a little goes a long way. You only need to use a few pumps to have a lasting effect. We’ve crafted each of our room sprays to be robust in aroma and benefits.

Every ingredient in our Room Spray is listed on the label so you know exactly what you’re adding to your home’s aroma. Whether you’re using Cedarwood Spruce, Frankincense Lime or French Lavender Sage, you only need a few spritzes to bring your indoor air to life.

Take Advantage of Aroma Layering

You may have heard of aromatic layering (we’ve previously covered it). It’s a simple way to offset the use of your room spray. If you’re diffusing (say, with the Terrazzo or the smaller, passive Reed Diffuser), a little help can take some of the heavy-lifting off of your room spray.

Better still, pair your favorite room spray aroma with its accompanying synergy blend in a diffuser. If you’re looking to add a citrus scent to a specific area, try spraying our Bee Happy room spray and diffusing our Citrus Cream synergy blend.

Use Linens and Cloths

Instead of spraying into the air, room spray can actually work better when you pair it with linens or other cloths. Room sprays will eventually dissolve in the air but when they’re sprayed on fabrics, the aroma absorbs, giving it a longer lifespan. Spray them on your towels – both of the kitchen and washroom varieties.

Additionally, you can add a few pumps from the spray bottle onto an extra piece of cloth and store it in a closet or cupboard to keep the space aromatically pleasing.

Get a Bedtime Boost

Like we discussed above, room sprays often last longer when sprayed on fabrics rather than the air. All of our room sprays can be used as pillow sprays or linen sprays to give your bedding a calming aroma.

If you’re looking for therapeutic rest, Good Night room spray and the OK For Kids Sound Asleep room spray each offer a natural pathway to deep sleep. By using room spray before you get under the covers, you’re guaranteed to gain the therapeutic benefits of essential oils while you sleep.

Easy Aroma Hacks

At Edens Garden, we specialize in finding effortless ways to incorporate essential oils into daily life. We’ve outlined some of our favorite aroma tips. For easy applications on extending the life of your perfume, read our “6 Ways To Make Your Perfume Last Longer” blog.

To make a homemade freshener for your rugs or carpets, try our super-simple Essential Oil Carpet Refresher DIY! All you need is 2 cups of baking soda and your favorite essential oil. We recommend a calming aroma like French Lavender essential oil or Purify synergy blend.

Take your cleaning routine to the next level by crafting a natural all-purpose cleaner.

All-Purpose Cleaner DIY

What You Need

2 oz glass spray bottle

1 oz grain alcohol

1 oz vinegar

20 drops Cleaning synergy blend or Lemon essential oil


Combine all the ingredients into the glass bottle. Shake well before each use. Can be used on glass surfaces, windows, kitchen counters, bathroom surfaces and inside your refrigerator.

We Asked The Experts: How Do Air Fresheners Actually Work?

Rather than playing a guessing game (not our style), we decided to ask the expert. And what we discovered was nothing short of fascinating.

Image by Hannah Schwob

What is an air freshener?

First, let’s understand the universe of air fresheners. You’re probably most familiar with sprays and plug-ins—but there’s actually a huge variety of products, each designed with specific use cases in mind. Air sprays are the most versatile in the bunch and can be used anywhere odors are lingering in the air. Fabric sprays are best used on hard-to-wash fabrics such as stuffed toys, bedding, couches, or some clothing. Plugins are a perfect option for high-traffic rooms that are in need of continuous odor elimination. And car vent clips, well, they’re best for cars, of course! Febreze has extended this lineup with products like candles, wax melts, and the SMALL SPACES continuous non-energized air freshener for closets, entryways, or bathrooms. No matter which product type you’re choosing, air fresheners typically include odor-eliminating ingredients and fragrances, plus technology, to distribute these ingredients into the space.

Febreze AIR LIGHT Bamboo Febreze LIGHT Air Effects Bamboo gently removes odors with just a hint of misty bamboo scent. You won’t find any dyes or heavy perfumes, either. That’s because this spray gently cleans away odors from the air without ’em. BUY NOW

How do air fresheners actually work?

You spray, plug, or press a button, and the next minute the offending odor in your home has been replaced by a delightful scent. Magic, right? Not quite… A good air freshener is about much more than the fragrance. “We know that the scent that’s being left behind and the ambience that it creates is a big reason that people use the air freshener category. But the other side of that is odor elimination.” Morgan Brashear, Febreze senior scientist, explains, “Look for an air freshener that actually has ingredients in there purposefully designed to eliminate odors. For Febreze, we have four powerhouse odor-elimination technologies that we’ve formulated into the product that don’t just mask the odors; they actually do trap them, neutralize them, eliminate them.” Here’s where we get into the science of these key ingredients in Febreze. “The first odor eliminator is cyclodextrin—it is a starch ring derived from corn and potatoes, and it is shaped like a doughnut. What it does is actually trap odors in the center of the doughnut and locks them away so you cannot smell them anymore. It is used in Febreze for the purpose of odor elimination, but it is used in a lot of different industries for a lot of different purposes.” Another odor-elimination technology Febreze utilizes is a lot more familiar to the average person—citric acid. Yep, the very same that is found in lemons and other citrus fruits. “It’s going to be your pH neutralizer,” Brashear explains, “so it’s going to bring odors to a pH of 7, which is the pH of water and doesn’t smell. You might be familiar with this concept if you’ve ever eaten a particularly fishy meal and squeezed a lemon on it to neutralize the fishy taste. That’s the same thing citric acid does to odors in our products.” The result? No more fishy smell floating around your home.

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What are air fresheners made of, and are there any ingredients that should be avoided?

People are often surprised to discover that Febreze’s formulations are actually water-based! In fact, Brashear shares, “You’ll see with our new Febreze LIGHT line, we’ve made the middle of the label completely transparent, allowing you to see the water-based formula firsthand.”

Image by Hannah Schwob

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When it comes to getting the product into the air, Febreze sprays use a 100% natural nitrogen propellant rather than a flammable propellant like butane or propane. Nitrogen is a natural part of the air we breathe and provides a safer way to dispense a fine mist into the air without VOCs. Febreze’s first, second, and third priorities are your safety, so every single ingredient is tested and determined to be safe for use in the home, including around kids and pets. This means they have a comprehensive “no, no, no” list of ingredients that includes things like formaldehyde, phthalates, and more. As for the “yes, yes, yes” list? Search the Smart Label website for your favorite product to find out what’s inside before you buy.

How do I choose a fragrance that will support my well-being?

It turns out, there’s more to fragrances than meets the nose. First, consider how much fragrance you’re looking for. Brashear shares, “We know that consumers fall on a spectrum of what kind of scent intensity they want or that they feel they are able to handle. So, for the people who want the very bold fragrances, we have our Unstoppables collection, people who just want normal levels of freshness we have our entire base lineup, and for the folks that want or need a very light fragrance because of sensitivities or preferences, we have our new Febreze LIGHT collection. It still has all of our odor elimination technology, which means you don’t need to rely on a heavy scent to address odors in the home.” When it comes to the fragrance itself, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer. Scent is highly personal—it plays a critical role in the human experience, and memories of fragrances are longer-lasting and more detailed than memories created from other senses. Start by considering where you’re going to use the fragrance and how you want to feel in that space. Whether it’s the Febreze LIGHT Sea Spray to remind you of a childhood spent by the beach, a holiday scent that makes an appearance every December, or lavender to promote calm, your fragrance choices can take you back to a happy place, set the scene, or even help to reduce stress.

Febreze LIGHT PLUG Lavender Start eliminating odors and soothing your soul with the scent of Febreze LIGHT PLUG Lavender. Refresh your favorite rooms and enjoy this herbal scent without any heavy perfumes. BUY NOW

Febreze also offers the more traditional floral and fruity fragrances, as well as rotating seasonal fragrances around fall and holidays. And if you’re looking for something unique, Brashear’s personal favorite comes from the recently launched Origins collection with Wood, Forest, and Ocean. “The Wood fragrance is hands-down one of my favorite scents because it has that really rich oud undertone, which just smells so luxurious to me.”

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How are ingredients tested for safety?

If you’re concerned about the ingredients in your air freshener, look for brands that undergo rigorous safety testing and are transparent about ingredients. At Febreze, Brashear told us, there’s an entire subcategory of the organization called the Global Product Stewardship who conducts this testing. “Their priority is to assess every single ingredient on an individual level and then at a product level. That includes how the individual ingredient reacts in different situations but also how all of those ingredients react when they’re blended together. And they don’t just look at it from a single point of view.” This means every ingredient is tested in the context of its concentration in the product, how the product is used, how the body is exposed to it, and dozens of other scenarios based on deep consumer use understanding.

Image by Hannah Schwob

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In addition, Febreze recognizes that a lot of air freshener users are also pet owners and a lot of them ask important questions like, “Is Febreze safe for pets?” Therefore, they have a group of on-staff veterinary toxicologists that review all Febreze products for the safety of pets. “There are additional routes of exposure for pets, they might walk across it and get it on their paws, which have a different sensitivity to human skin, they might lick it, they might roll around in it—all of those things need to be taken into consideration.” Interestingly, this testing is just as important for nature-derived ingredients as it is for human-made molecules. Febreze sources fragrance ingredients directly from nature when it makes the most sense, but that simply isn’t always the case. “There is an idea that natural is always better, but there are lots of situations where there are naturally occurring allergens or toxins that you would never want to put into a product. So, whether it’s sourced from nature, whether it’s created by people, every ingredient goes through the same process of safety testing.”

The final word.

The Truth About Air Fresheners

What do shoes, carpets, drapes, dogs, chairs, onions, dirty laundry, beds and fish have in common?

They all make your house smell bad and believe me when I say there’s like 150 other things in your home right now that are adding to what’s called the ‘scent signature’ of your home.

Well, the reality is that your scent signature can quickly become your stank signature – and when that happens, many of us run off to the store to purchase the different products that are conveniently packaged and placed in their own little aisle to solve our ‘problem’.

We all know these products right? Sprays that supposedly fa-freshen the air in your home – scented candles or these plug-in fresheners which, in this case, will made your house smell exactly like the rainforest.

The problem is, these plug ins don’t smell like the rainforest. The candles, which are supposed to smell like apples and cinnamon, don’t have apples or cinnamon listed as an ingredient, and sprays straight up smell like cheap perfume…the kind that gives me a headache after only a minute or so.

I thoroughly do not enjoy these scents. They do not take me on a scent-fantasy vacation as the commercials say they will. Rather, I get a pounding headache within minutes of exposure.

But what about all the health concerns?

Now, I’m not going to get into the debate about chemicals and toxins. If that is a concern for you, then there are many, many studies available which talk about what goes into these products, some of which I’ve linked below, and you can make make up your own mind whether you want these products in your home, or not. I leave that conclusion to you. Recently, larger companies that produce these have had to become much more transparent about the ingredients which go into their products. That way, consumers can make their choices knowingly. If you are informed, you can make better decisions; so get informed!

Time Magazine Article

Scientific American Article Article

The main reason why I don’t use these products in my home is quite simple, the products are superfluous. They are mere middlemen to perceived problems. When there is an odor that you want to get rid of, you need to DE-odorize – or remove the odor – all of these do nothing more than put artificial odors into the air to overpower the odors you’re trying to get rid of – which essentially RE-odorizes – and that’s a big difference.

So what does clean really smell like?

For 7 years now I’ve been running a cleaning company, and one of the more consistent comments that I hear from our customers is that they love to walk into their newly cleaned home to smell – nothing…not be overwhelmed with the artificial smells of cleaning products, but to smell nothing.

Nothing is the new smell of clean.

So, maybe you’re reading this because you were one of the many people who have asked me how to get rid of this nasty smell in my house….. or maybe you’re tired of spending your money on expensive products which do nothing more than mask odors – or maybe, just maybe you got trapped in an Internet vacuum and can’t explain why you ended up reading an article called “The Truth Behind Air Fresheners” – whatever the reason, allow me to share a few ideas to naturally, effectively get rid of smells in your home…

How to actually, naturally eliminate odours

Clean the stuff that causes the odours

You want to know the best way to eliminate bad odors in your house? Clean, or wash, the offending items. Have you ever noticed that air freshener commercials show the product being used to tackle smelly shoe odors? Well, here’s an idea – wash those smelly shoes! I know it sounds absolutely crazy, but the results will amaze you!

If the house smells like garbage, maybe it’s time to take out the garbage, if your room smells a little funky, maybe it’s time to take care of the laundry and for those of you with dogs who have asked about the best way to deal with the “dog smell” – the answer isn’t so much cleaning the areas where your dog hangs out (i.e. spraying the dog bed)…it’s about cleaning your dog and washing the dog bed. Plus, I’m positive the dog doesn’t want to feel like he’s yodelling atop the Alpines.

Bowl of Vinegar

Vinegar is a wonderful natural deodorizer and is incredibly easy to use. Simply leave a bowl of vinegar out, overnight and you’ll wake to find the area smelling fresher! Plain white vinegar will do, nothing fancy.

Baking Soda

There’s a reason we keep a box of baking soda in the fridge. and that is because it can handle the difficult job of managing all the odors that live inside your fridge – well, it’s also effective in other places in your home like at the bottom of garbage cans, kitty litter boxes and even in your closet or spice cupboard.

Vacuuming and steam cleaning

Carpets are pretty much the biggest offenders when it comes to odors in our homes. they harbor a bunch of odor causing nastiness and the same holds true for curtains and other upholstered items. A great way to tackle the smell in a room is to give everything a good vacuuming – use the aforementioned baking soda to really suck up the scents. If you have a deep cleaner or a steam cleaner, those are even more amazing at removing odours.

House plants

Let nature help you freshen the air in your home – plants can actually purify air and some smell naturally beautiful and can fill your space with the most wonderful, natural scents. They are also so beautiful! Some terrific indoor house plants to keep air purified. The following list both purifies air and removes toxins, and is also pet safe (which is great for me considering my cats think plants are an addition to their meals).

African Violet

Areca Palm


Boston Fern

Cast Iron Plant

Flame Violet



Gerber Daisy


Lady Palm

Prayer Plant

Velvet Plant

Spider Plant


The power of air

The simple act of opening a few windows can make a huge difference in your home -so, let some fresh air in – this is easily the freeist thing that you can do to rid yourself of odors! if you open windows on opposite ends of your home – you can create a cross breeze which can whisk away unpleasant, stale odors and replace them with the freshness of nature – assuming you don’t live beside a tire factory. I do this whenever weather permits, it especially helps air out the cat dander which I am allergic to (I know, I know) but makes an enormous difference. I also find it helps contribute to that smell of ‘nothing’ that I often talk about.

DIY home scents and Homemade Febreze recipes

If you have to have a scent in your home, or you really need a product to eliminate odours, there are a few things you can try. Firstly, you can make your own version of Febreze. Simply add 1 teaspoon of baking soda to one cup of water and 10 drops of your favourite essential oil (or a combination you love). Mist around the room and voila, you’ve got your own, natural Febreeze. And, not too long ago we posted a video called DIY Home Deodorizers which talked about a great way to fill your home with some lovely natural scents by simmering different great smelling items like fruits and herbs..

In the olden days

Back in the day – before the days of air fresheners – people used the methods that I have just shared with you to effectively clean and deodorize the air in their homes and it’s funny how not much has changed – while we now have the option of spending literally hundreds of dollars on products which mask odors – we still have the option of using our heads to completely get rid of odors. Our grandparents and parents didn’t live in stinky homes, that I can assure you of.

Air Freshener Intervention?

If you or someone you know is a heavy user of these products, consider this. Not only can you save hundreds of dollars a year (the ‘plug in’ products are what we refer to as ‘the razor and blade’ system, where you purchase the razor once and continue to purchase blades again and again. You’re also plugging them in and spending money on your energy bill.) but you can do all of the things these products claim to be able to do by dealing with the root cause as opposed to seeking the band aid solution. Share this with your addicted friends and family and see if their habits will change.

What do you use to naturally freshen the smell of your home?

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Your best air freshener isn’t an air freshener

By Rebecca Sutton, PhD, EWG Senior Scientist

A quick spritz of air freshener may seem like a simple way to kill funky odors. Unfortunately, that pleasing smell is just more indoor air pollution. Levels of harmful indoor pollutants like formaldehyde, chloroform and styrene range from 2 to 50 times higher than outdoor levels. And because we spend most of our time indoors, our toxic exposures inside our homes, workplaces and schools are significant.

The dirt on air fresheners

Air fresheners – in aerosol, spray, solid, candle or plug-in form – don’t remove odors. They just mask them. It’s literally impossible to track down a full list of ingredients for most air fresheners sold in the U.S., because there is no requirement for companies to disclose ingredients. A few companies provide ingredient lists on their website in response to consumer demand, but the word “fragrance” may hide dozens of chemicals, many of which may never have been assessed for safety.

Ingredients commonly used in fragrances in air fresheners include phthalates, which make fragrances last longer and are linked to male reproductive system birth defects and hormone disruption, and synthetic musks, which are linked to allergies and hormone disruption. Last year, a University of Washington study found that eight unnamed, widely used U.S. air fresheners released an average of 18 chemicals into the air. On average, one in five of these chemicals were hazardous substances highlighted in federal and some state pollution standards. Fully half the air fresheners tested released acetaldehyde, a likely human carcinogen according to the EPA.

When EWG conducted more sensitive testing of the air freshener Febreze Air Effects as part of a 2009 study of cleaning supplies used in California schools, we detected a total of 89 airborne contaminants, including acetaldehyde.

Are there greener alternatives?

When it comes to air fresheners, not so much. Some cleaning supplies are rated green by third-party certifiers Green Seal and EcoLogo, but there are no green certification standards for air fresheners. Natural or homemade air fresheners scented with essential oils aren’t guaranteed free of potentially harmful chemicals. Essential oils are a complex combination of highly concentrated, naturally-derived chemicals. Though they are found in the natural world, they are rarely so concentrated. Few natural chemicals in essential oils and other plant-based ingredients have been tested for safety. Some can trigger allergies in sensitive individuals.

Better ways to freshen your indoor air

Instead of using air fresheners, open a window, run a fan, and get rid of the real source of the smell. A box of baking soda is a safe way to reduce odors. A HEPA air filter can safely remove some odors and allergens. It just doesn’t make sense to pollute our inside air. It’s easier, cheaper and healthier to just say no to completely unnecessary products.

[Thanks to Flickr CC & soham_pablo for the open window]

Air Fresheners and Indoor Air Quality

Many people often turn to air fresheners (such as sprays, candles, incense, diffusers, etc.) to mask or remove unpleasant odors. However, air fresheners contain a variety of chemical, and sometimes biological, components that can be problematic for some individuals and can contribute to poor indoor air quality. The information below addresses the health and safety concerns of air fresheners and provides accurate information on effective ways to control indoor air pollution.

How do air fresheners affect indoor air quality?

Air fresheners can impact indoor air quality by adding potentially hazardous pollutants to the air. The use of air fresheners is associated with elevated levels of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), such as formaldehyde, acetaldehyde, benzene, toluene, ethyl benzene, and xylenes, in indoor air. These VOCs are often difficult to smell in the air, but they can irritate the eyes, nose, and throat, as well as cause headaches and nausea. The types and amounts of VOCs emitted depend primarily on the fragrance composition of the air freshener, not on the type of air freshener. It can be difficult or impossible to find out the ingredients in air fresheners, because manufacturers are not required to disclose the complete list of ingredients.

Air fresheners can add VOCs and other pollutants to the air through direct emissions from fresheners as well as through secondary reaction products from the freshener chemicals reacting with constituents (such as ozone) that are already in the air. For example, air freshener emissions can react with naturally-occurring indoor air compounds, such as ozone, to produce secondary pollutants such as formaldehyde. The types and amounts of secondary pollutants produced are influenced by factors such as air freshener ingredients, concentrations, and product usage.

How do air fresheners affect human health?

The use of air fresheners can increase exposure levels to air pollutants. These exposures, even at relatively low levels, have been associated with a range of adverse health effects. These effects may include migraine headaches, asthma attacks, breathing and respiratory difficulties, dermatitis, and neurological problems particularly for sensitive individuals.

Are “green” air fresheners safer or better than regular ones?

Some air freshener products are described as “green” (or other related terms, such as organic or all-natural), but these terms lack regulatory or chemical definitions when used with air fresheners. Studies comparing emissions of different types of air fresheners have found that all air fresheners – regardless of “green” claims – emit potentially hazardous compounds. Moreover, emissions from “green” air fresheners were not found to be significantly different from other fresheners.

Homemade or “natural” air fresheners made with essential oils are not necessarily free of potentially harmful chemicals, either. Essential oils consist of combinations of naturally-derived chemicals that are highly concentrated. Concentrations of these oils in nature are typically much lower than the concentrations found in essential oils. Moreover, few of these oils and plant-based ingredients have been tested for safety, and some can trigger allergic reactions.

Can air fresheners remove odors and clean the air?

Some air fresheners purportedly clean the air by removing odors, disinfecting the air, or reducing allergens. These claims have been difficult to scientifically verify. Moreover, the use of these products would not provide a long-term solution since the source of odors, bacteria, or other allergens would not be addressed.

What are some alternatives to using air fresheners?

Air fresheners are generally used to create a more pleasing indoor air environment, but they can also exacerbate indoor air quality problems by adding more chemicals to the air. Ways to mitigate undesirable odors in an indoor air environment without the use of air fresheners include:

removing the source of the odor

increasing ventilation by opening a window or using an exhaust fan

improving and increasing ventilation by maintaining HVAC systems

regular cleaning and vacuuming (see the fact sheet on cleaning for good indoor air quality)

use of an air purifier when other means are not sufficient (see the fact sheet on air purifiers)

Fragrance-free policies in the workplace may help people with sensitivity to air fresheners, and some buildings at UMass have been designated as fragrance-free. Please avoid using air fresheners in these buildings.

Additional Resources:

EPA: “Care for Your Air: A Guide to Indoor Air Quality.”…

Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, “Aromatherapy: Do Essential Oils Really Work?”…

Poison Control National Capitol Poison Center. “Air fresheners: Are they safe?”

Steinemann, Anne (2017), “Ten questions concerning air fresheners and indoor built environments” Building and Environment, Volume 111, January, pages 279-284,

The 8 Best Air Fresheners for Your Home and Car

We independently research, test, review, and recommend the best products—learn more about our process. If you buy something through our links, we may earn a commission.

We researched the most popular air fresheners available online, evaluating effectiveness, formulation, and scent quality. Our favorite, the Renuzit Gel Air Freshener , is made of 98% biodegradable gel, provides more than a month of freshening power, and has an adjustable scent level.

This air purifier is designed to clean 215 square feet of air in 10 minutes and refresh the air six times an hour. It’s easy to operate with just one button that turns it on and off and controls the three fan settings. The lowest setting is quiet enough that it won’t interrupt your sleep. At just about 5.5 pounds, it’s easy to move to different rooms when needed.

Sometimes, especially when you’re dealing with odors like smoke, you need something stronger than a traditional air freshener. The Air Choice Air Purifier is a small appliance that has a pre-filter that removes dust, lint, and allergens in addition to an ionizer filter that removes odors and smoke and a True HEPA filter that removes tiny airborne substances.

All of the MOSO bags are made of bamboo charcoal and are free from fragrances entirely. Each bag absorbs odors and moisture and only requires one hour in the sun each month to maintain effectiveness. The bags last for up to two years, and the contents are biodegradable. Plus, there is a place on each bag to write the date the packaging was opened, so you’ll remember when to put it in the sun and when two years have passed. You can even recycle the bag’s contents in your backyard.

The MOSO Natural Charcoal Air Purifying Bag stands out because it is available in a variety of packaging and sizes. For example, there’s a freestanding option that lets you place it anywhere without worrying about it toppling over. There’s also a smaller size that can be hung in closets or bathrooms or tucked into drawers. The car MOSO bag can be used in cars, SUVs, and trucks.

This spray is perfect if you don’t need a continuous air freshener but would like something to refresh your room every once in a while. Scent options include Pear Blossom Agave, Rosewater Driftwood, Lavender Cedar Leaf, and more.

If you like to add a fresh scent to your bedroom, the Caldrea Linen and Room Spray Air Freshener is perfect for you. Free from artificial colors, formaldehyde, aerosol, and parabens, it’s made of essential oils and is safe enough to spray in the air or on garments and linens without leaving stains.

Each canister lasts for an average of 60 days, and the dispenser has a low refill indicator to let you know when it’s time to swap out canisters. Aqua Waves, Clean Linen, and Blooming Peony & Cherry are some of the many fragrances available.

Another set-and-forget option is an automatic spray air freshener. The Glade Automatic Spray Refill and Holder Kit uses two AA batteries and includes three settings, so you can dispense a burst of fragrance every nine, 18, or 36 minutes—though there’s an off setting as well for overnight or when you’re away on a trip. In addition, there’s a Boost Button that you can press to release fragrance whenever you desire.

If you like air freshener options that you can set and forget, consider the Glade PlugIns Air Freshener Start Kit, which includes the fragrance warmer that you plug into an outlet and five refills. You can adjust the amount of scent that’s released based on the size of the room and how strong you want the fragrance to be.

The spray is made of natural ingredients—including essential oils—and is free of aerosols and parabens. Besides the original citrus scent, it’s also available in other options, such as Lavender Peppermint, Lavender Vanilla, Tropical Hibiscus, and Vanilla Mint. You can also use Poo-Pourri in your kitchen trashcan, as well as in your laundry room or other areas with strong odors.

One place you don’t want odors to linger: the bathroom. It can be embarrassing for both parties when one person is exiting the bathroom and another person is entering the space. Poo-Pourri Before-You-Go Toilet Spray can help you avoid such unpleasantries. By spraying the scent directly onto the water in the toilet bowl, a barrier is created to trap odors underneath the surface.

On the low setting, each vent clip lasts for an average of 30 days. There are over two dozen scents to choose from, including Linen & Sky, Fresh-Twist Cranberry, Sea Spray, and also two Gain laundry detergent scents.

Considering everything that happens in your car—eating and spilling food, transporting other humans and pets, and often driving with the windows up due to extreme cold or heat—it’s normal for smells to develop. However, the Febreze Car Air Freshener Vent Clip makes it easy to banish those smells. As its name implies, you merely clip the air fresher to your car vent, and then you can adjust how much of the scent is released.

Because the gel cone is small, it will fit in almost any space. It’s also one of the less expensive options, so you can place one in every room and experiment with various scents. Best of all, it comes in almost two dozen scents, including After the Rain, Pure Breeze, Tranquil Falls, and Hawaiian Sunset. And if you like the scent of Snuggle dryer sheets, the gel cone air freshener is also available in two Snuggle scents.

It’s hard to find an air freshener more versatile than the Renuzit Gel Air Freshener. The 98 percent naturally sourced, biodegradable gel cone doesn’t require batteries, you don’t need to plug it into an outlet, and there’s nothing to spray. It’s easy to operate—just twist and lift the cap. You can control the amount of fragrance by raising or lowering the cap.

Final Verdict The best overall air purifier is the Renuzit Gel Air Freshener (view at Amazon), which is a biodegradable gel cone and doesn’t need to be sprayed or plugged into an outlet. Twisting the cap up or down controls the amount of fragrance released, and it is available in a variety of scents. If you prefer no fragrance at all, the MOSO Natural Charcoal Air Purifying Bag (view at Amazon) uses bamboo charcoal to clean your air naturally. It’s also easy to care for and biodegradable, and each bag lasts for two years.

What to Look for in an Air Freshener


Do you want fragrant air freshener or one with no scent? When making this decision, also consider family members, friends, pets, or co-workers who might be sensitive to heavy perfumes. You’ll also need to decide whether you want an air freshener that allows you to control the level of fragrance released, if that’s important to you. Some air fresheners let you adjust the intensity, while others are all or nothing.


If you have children and pets, a plug-in might not be the best option unless the outlets are high enough that they can’t be reached. Gels and sprays can also be dangerous if ingested, so they’ll need to be out of reach. And bamboo charcoal can be a choking hazard if the bags are torn open.

Choosing a type also means choosing how easy to use or customizable you want your air freshener to be. Something you can plug into an outlet or set on a table is more convenient than having to spray air freshener all of the time, and it might be a better pick for areas with consistent smell issues, such as a laundry room or bathroom. On the other hand, if you only want to freshen the air on certain occasions, such as when company is coming over, it might be easier just to spray the air before your guests arrive.


If you have strong odors, you’ll need to treat the source of the smell in addition to adding a freshener on top of it. Nothing smells worse than bad odors mixed with perfume. However, sometimes you’ll need to experiment with products to find the one that works best for your needs. If moisture is a problem, bamboo charcoal does a better job of absorbing it than sprays or oils do. But if your room just needs a gentle refresh, those methods should work fine.

FAQ How do air fresheners work? Air fresheners contain odor-eliminating ingredients that get distributed into your space to help neutralize bad smells. These ingredients capture odor molecules and oxidize them, effectively killing the bad odor. Popular aerosols offer pressurized sprays that evaporate into the air, reacting with the free-moving molecules that cause foul smells. The result is a cleaner, fresher scent. When shopping for an air freshener, you want to keep an eye out for one that actually eliminates the odor, rather than masking it, as these can actually make the smell worse.

How long do air fresheners last? Different types of air fresheners have different lifespans. While aerosol sprays only last one to three days on average, a gel-based air freshener can typically last up to four weeks without fading. You can make your air freshener last longer by adding a drop or two of essential oil to it to amp up the scent.

What air fresheners are safe for pets? Some air fresheners can be harmful to pets if they are inhaled, due to their concentration of VOCs (volatile organic compounds). Plus, many essential oils and artificial fragrances found in air fresheners can be toxic to your dog or cat. For these reasons, it’s important to never spray air fresheners on or near your pet. Your best bet is to properly read the instructions on your air freshener and preferably use them when your animal is not in the room. If it’s a fabric freshener, make sure it dries completely before allowing your animal near it.

Why Trust The Spruce

Terri Williams is a professional writer who has tested hundreds of products. She has product review bylines at Tom’s Guide, and both home improvement advice and product review bylines at, Bob Vila, Apartment Therapy, and Additional reporting was done by Mackenzie Dunn, a writer and editor with expertise in the fashion, beauty, home, and lifestyle spaces. She enjoys covering a wide variety of topics from decor trends to cleaning hacks and has a penchant for curated bookshelves and cozy throw blankets.

Air Fresheners for the Home, Bathroom and Car

Nothing’s worse than coming back home only to smell pet odor, last night’s dinner or stale air. While a good housecleaning and or mighty air purifier can help remove these odors, an air freshener is an easy, inexpensive way to help banish lingering aromas and make your home feel more inviting. A good air freshener should make the air smell clean and fresh and eliminate— not just cover up — odors without being too overpowering or fading too soon.

Here at the Good Housekeeping Institute Cleaning Lab, director Carolyn Forte and her group of Lab pros lead testing of hundreds of cleaning products and tips year-round, including those that claim to get smells out of microwaves, washing machines, fabrics, pet and cooking zones, plus any tips to generally freshen the air in your home. When we test air fresheners, we evaluate them both in the Lab and at home to better simulate real-life conditions. We assess the intensity of the scent initially and over time, monitor how long they last (especially if they claim to work for weeks or months), and evaluate ease of use. We also check for any leakage or damage to surrounding surfaces as well as any specific performance claims the product makes. Here are the best air fresheners to buy in 2021:

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