FINDING the best car air freshener is useful if you’re a smoker, own dogs, or often eat in your car. Even if you don’t do any of these things, a fresh or nostalgic scent can brighten your daily commute, help you to relax, and generally make your car a nicer place to be.

Car air fresheners are something you might be beginning to consider buying as car owners return to the driver's seat once more, after a year of looking at our cars wistfully from the living room window.

People are now returning to their cars to get themselves to work and visit friends and family, and a nice fragrance can only improve the experience.

We’ve tested six of the best, and answered some frequently asked questions.

Yankee Candle Car Jar Ultimate Midsummer's Night

  • Yankee Candle Car Jar Ultimate Midsummer's Night, £4.99 – buy here

Yankee Candle is one of the UK’s favourite candlemakers, so it’s no surprise that drivers have a desire to take the company’s nostalgic scents to the road.

The brand’s satisfyingly-named Car Jars capitalise on the iconic shape of the candle holders, and dangle from your rearview mirror in the same way as one of those pine-flavoured, tree-shaped things you think of when someone says the words “air freshener”. However, the scents are decidedly more seductive.

We tested out three of the best selling scents: Midsummer Night, Clean Cotton and Pink Sands. Midsummer Night is a sultry, musky scent; Pink Sands is almost the opposite — bright and floral, with hints of melon and citrus; Clean Cotton smells like… well…

The White Company Car Scent Diffuser

  • The White Company Car Scent Diffuser, £15.00 – buy here

At a glance, the White Company’s car scent diffuser might not look like very good value for money. It costs £15, and that’s without the expense of buying a £10 scented oil to go with it.

However, the diffuser is refillable, making it cost-efficient and good for the environment, while the fragrance oils will last you for a long time, as you only have to use a few drops each time you refill. You could also use essential oils, which can be found online for just a few pounds.

We were also impressed with the subtlety of the White Company’s product. It blends into the interior of your car nicely thanks to its elegant, brushed metal design, while the fragrance is noticeable without being overpowering — however, figuring out how much oil to put on to make the scent noticeable can take a bit of trial and error.

Febreze Car Air Freshener Spring Awakening

  • Febreze Car Air Freshener Spring Awakening, £17.89 for pack of 6 – buy here

Another brand famed for its interior fragrances, Febreze’s nifty little air fresheners were one of our favourites. 

They clip on to your air conditioning vent, and unlike the ones from Lynx, don’t require any assembly — you just pierce the metal foil, plug it into your car vent and luxuriate in the scent of fresh linen. You can also adjust the strength of the scent, preventing it from becoming too overpowering — something that other fresheners struggle with. 

Febreze claims that its air fresheners clear the scent of food, cigarette smoke or wet dog — rather than simply masking it — thanks to its OdourClear technology, which comprises a lot of fancy sounding chemicals whose names we struggle to spell.

The fresheners also have a visible liquid level, so you know when to replace them. And, as a bonus, the smell might incentivise you to go home and change your sheets.

Lynx Mini Vent Car Freshener – Black

  • Lynx Mini Vent Car Freshener – Black, £2.00 – buy here

According to scientists, your sense of smell has more memory attached to it than any other sense. 

That’s why the smell of a particular perfume can remind you so vividly of your first boyfriend or girlfriend, or why the smell of a certain dish cooking can take you right back to your childhood kitchen.

In the case of Lynx, it’ll most likely transport people of a certain generation back to forging their parent’s signature in order to get out of PE. 

This could be a great touch to adorn your child’s first car with – but be careful, we’ve all seen the adverts…

Like the Febreze and Yankee Candle scents, this one clips onto your car vent, which we think is the best place for it to go — although Lynx also sells fresheners that go in your cup holder, ones that dangle from your rearview mirror, and sprays that you can spritz when things get smelly.

Jelly Belly Pump Spray – Very Cherry

  • Jelly Belly Pump Spray – Very Cherry, £3.99 – buy here

Another brand that makes sprays for your car is Jelly Belly, the company best associated with jelly beans. As you’d expect from a company that manufactures over 100 flavours of the famous confectionery, there’s a massive variety of flavours to choose from.

One of our favourites was this Very Chery Pump Spray, which comes in a whimsical novelty jelly-bean shaped bottle and packs more than 900 sprays, Jelly Belly Claims — at £3.99 per bottle, that’s just half a penny per spray.

Halfords also sells a Bubble Gum flavour, but that one’s a bit more of an acquired taste, we think, compared to the scrumptious Bakewell tart scent of the Very Cherry.

Fresheners like this are useful because it means you can choose when to give your car a hit of the scent, rather than having an ever-present smell, which you may get bored of. Each spray packs a punch, too — great if you’ve just finished a cigarette or a tuna sandwich.

That also means it lasts longer — if you’re only using a spray or two per day, it could last you all year, in fact.

Jelly Belly Gel Mini Vent Air Freshener Duo Pack – Tangerine

  • Jelly Belly Gel Mini Vent Air Freshener Duo Pack – Tangerine, £3.55 – buy here

Jelly Belly has got all bases covered when it comes to car air fresheners. As well as its Pump Spray, it sells traditional dangly fresheners emblazoned with the iconic Jelly Belly logo and multipacks of smaller fresheners that plug into your air vents.

We’ve opted for these smaller ones, due to the fact that their vibrant colour adds a splash of life into what can otherwise be a rather drab, grey car fascia. We especially liked these tangerine ones for their sunny orange colour and sweet, marmalade scent. 

While an air freshener might not be the most important part of your day, the brightness of this one’s colour and scent is sure to make your commute just a tiny bit sunnier.

How can I make my car air freshener last longer?

While the fresheners above smell great, some of them will require regular replacement — at a couple of quid a pop, they can’t be expected to last forever. However, there are a couple of things you can do to extend their lifespan a bit. 

For example, rolling down your window and letting in fresh air will allow your air freshener to smell brighter for longer, as it won’t be constantly battling with the dirtier air that’s inside your car. Eliminating the source of the odour will also help, if you can.

Oftentimes the reason that a car smells a bit off is due to a buildup of dirt, bacteria or mildew in the air conditioning vents. This is easily remedied through an antibacterial clean of your air conditioning system’s filters. 

Is it illegal to mount a car air freshener?

There is nothing in the law stating that it is illegal to hang an air freshener from your rearview mirror. 

However, if the police decide that something dangling from your mirror — such as air fresheners and novelty items like fluffy dice — is obstructing your vision, you could be slapped with an on-the-spot, or penalty points. If you take the penalty to court, the fine could increase to £1000.

Furthermore, if you are in a crash, insurance companies may refuse to pay out if they think your vision was obstructed at the time of the collision.

Where do you put a car air freshener?

There are three main schools of thought: dangling from your rearview mirror, plugged into your vents, or in a cup holder.

We found during our testing that our favourites are ones that slot into your air conditioning vents. The scent circulates nicely due to the air blowing through the freshener, and it can brighten up the dashboard of your car. 

Furthermore, it doesn’t carry the risk of an air freshener dangling from your rearview mirror, and doesn’t take up all-important cupholder space.

Enjoyed our roundup of the best car air fresheners? You might be interested in our roundup of the best car glass cleaners.

We've also compiled a guide on choosing the best tyres for your car.

Head to Sun Selects to help you find the best products without breaking the bank.

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