Best car air fresheners 2019

Get your car smelling nice again as we choose the best car air fresheners from brands like Jelly Belly and Yankee Candle

Despite selling in there hundreds of thousands every year, air fresheners are still either loved or hated by drivers. Spray versions tend to be the best solution for many people, because they can get rid of unpleasant smells, but don’t hang around in the interior for weeks.

From mirror hangers and vent mounts to designs that pop under the seat or in a cup-holder, there’s plenty of choice and an array of scents. So which will clear the air in your car? We sniffed out 10 to find the perfect cabin companion.

How we tested them

Fragrance was at the heart of the test, so we lined up a panel of eight ‘tasters’ to rate the perfumes. We also assessed durability over three weeks to see how long each lasted. Scratch and sniff panels that let you try before you buy scored points, as did some way of controlling the fragrance flow. Prices quoted are RRPs, although these played a relatively small role as no product was expensive.

Verdict

Jelly Belly comes out on top with its fragrant and practical spray bottle air freshener. Previous winner Refresh comes in second place while newcomer Angelwax takes third with its clever self-measuring spray.

  • 1. Jelly Belly Spray Air Freshener
  • 2. Refresh Scented Gel
  • 3. Angelwax Eden
  • ReviewsJelly Belly Spray Air Freshener

    Price: £2.95
    Rating: 5/5
    Size: 59ml

    The small-button spray bottle is perfect for keeping in centre consoles or gloveboxes for that quick freshen-up to remove the smell of garden rubbish, wet dog or takeaway food. You pay for that convenience, however, because it’s the most expensive choice here per ml.

    Key to its success is that great tangerine smell, which was all our testers’ favourite. It has none of the cloying sweetness often found in air fresheners, and just delivers a citrusy aroma.

    Refresh Scented Gel

    Price: £2.99
    Rating: 5/5
    Type: Can

    You get 2.5 ounces of gel with this can freshener, so it was no surprise that it was one of the strongest at the end of the durability test. You can also control its release through the vented twist top, and the smell of fresh linen was one of our tasting panel’s favourites. The scratch and sniff panel could be stronger, but add in a competitive price and impressive versatility, and you have a winner. 

    Angelwax Eden

    Price: £13.95
    Rating: 4.5/5
    Size: 300ml  

    In an often basic or gimmicky sector, there’s a rare upmarket feel to this “heavenly air freshener”. The piano-black cap delivers a measured dose of fragrance and odour eliminator even after the trigger has been released. This is a neat touch, and it means you don’t risk applying too much by repeatedly pumping the spray.

    It is designed to be sprayed on to fabrics and carpets, so you need to keep it off leather and hard surfaces. Eden has staying power, too, still clearly present a week after being applied; it’s the best on test in this respect. It’s sold alongside the firm’s Bliss scent, with the Eden fragrance said to be a mix of exotic fruits. Our testers noticed hints of these, but  other products have a strong smell such as the Jelly Belly  Spray. This isn’t cheap, either, with pricing similar to the small-pack Jelly Belly Spray.

    Jelly Belly Air Vent

    Price: £3.99
    Rating: 4/5
    Type: Vent

    Jelly Belly has been close to the top of our past two tests, but this time has just missed out on a podium place. Standing out this time is the blueberry air freshener, which impressed our tasters with its blend of citrus and sweet notes. It lasted well, and the effective scratch panel lets you try it first. You can’t control the flow apart from via the car’s heater blower, but that great fragrance makes it our vent pick.

    Febreze Car

    Price: £4
    Rating: 4/5
    Type: Vent

    Home-turned-car air freshener Febreze claims this “eliminates odours”, and the cotton fresh perfume here is certainly strong. There was a little too much of the toilet freshener about the fragrance for some of our tasters, so it couldn’t match the popular Jelly Belly, but at least the flow can easily be controlled. Price is competitive and makes this well worth considering if you find a perfume you like.

    Richbrook Air Freshener Pump Spray

    Price: £2.95
    Rating: 4/5
    Type: Spray

    Sharp peppermint fragrance of this Richbrook pump spray divided opinion, and prevented it from finishing higher. Like the Jelly Belly spray, you can only try before you buy by using it, but it is cheaper as you get 60ml here for a pound less. If you want the control of using an air freshener only when needed, this Richbrook could be just the answer.

    Autobrite Direct Chocolate Orange

    Price: £10
    Rating:  3.5/5
    Size: 500ml 

    Part of Autobrite Direct’s new six-strong range of air fresheners and odour eliminators, many with food fragrances. The chocolate and orange can be detected in the spray, but there was a harsh edge and it was the least popular here.

    It’s not all bad, though, because the aroma was by no means unpleasant and was faintly present after a week. This product is also good value in this company, with its big 500ml bottle coming in at less than half the price of rivals.

    CarPlan Bahiti Island Scent in a Can

    Price: £2.99
    Rating: 3/5
    Type: Can

    Designed to slip into a cup-holder or under the seat, this CarPlan can is similar to our winner with a twist top to open and close a control vent. Sadly the cherry blossom flavour didn’t “transport the senses” of our taster panel to “paradise islands of white sand, indigo sea and fruit cocktails”. Too cloying for some, although others loved the whiff of marzipan which lasted well in our durability test.

    Yankee Candle Car Jar

    Price: £4.99
    Rating: 3/5
    Type: Hanger

    Neat kitchen jar in miniature design houses the most popular fragrance on test. Our panel loved the sweet “coconut bay” aroma, which just stayed on the right side of sickly sweet. Sadly, this wasn’t enough for the Car Jar to overcome its drawbacks – namely that there’s no way to try before you buy or to control the flow of scent. If you can do without these features, chances are you’ll love the Yankee Candle perfumes.

    Refresh Anywhere

    Price: £4.99
    Rating: 3/5
    Type: Vent, can, visor

    This American air freshener comes with all you need to fix it to your car’s sun visor or air vent, plus it’s shaped to slip in the bottom of a cup-holder. You can control the flow, too, albeit not as effectively as those with twist-top vents – the casing is either open or shut, with nothing in between. Sadly, the ‘New Car Scent’ the maker claims failed to find as many fans as rivals, placing it down the ratings.

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