11 Best Air Fresheners for a Great Smelling Home


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This story was updated in September 2022 to confirm that all products were available, add a newly tested air freshener from Febreze to our picks, expand our testing notes and answer frequently asked questions about air fresheners.


A home can be spick and span, but if it doesn’t smell clean, it doesn’t feel clean. You know what it’s like to leave and come home only to smell the garlic you sauteed at dinner or the bacon you made for breakfast. And if you smell it, your guests will too. While an air purifier can help remove these odors, a good air freshener is an easy, inexpensive way to help banish lingering aromas and make your home feel more inviting. In Good Housekeeping consumer surveys, respondents tell us they want a home that smells clean and fresh. A good air freshener should do just that, as well as eliminate — not just cover up — odors without being too overpowering or fading too soon.

The Good Housekeeping Institute Cleaning Lab tests of hundreds of cleaning products year-round, including those that claim to get smells out of microwaves, washing machines, fabrics, carpets, pet and cooking zones and more. Plus, they research and develop lots of tips to help 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. Below are the best air fresheners to buy in 2022.

Our top picks:


Read on to learn more details about our product recommendations, how we test air fresheners and answers to questions about which last the longest and what to consider when buying an air freshener, plus why you should trust our Good Housekeeping reviews.

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    1

    Best Overall Air Freshener

    Febreze

    Fade Defy Dual Scented Oil Warmer

    Product Specs

    Type Oil warmer
    Power Electric
    Adjustable scent Yes
    Duration Up to 50 days on low
    2

    Best Value Air Freshener

    Febreze

    Air Freshener Spray

    Product Specs

    Type Spray
    Power Nitrogen-propelled trigger spray
    Adjustable scent No
    Duration Variable
    3

    Best Kitchen Air Freshener

    Febreze

    Kitchen Odor Eliminator

    Product Specs

    Type Spray
    Power Nitrogen-propelled trigger spray
    Adjustable scent No
    Duration Variable
    4

    Best Smart Air Freshener

    Glade

    Plug-Ins Plus Air Freshener Warmer

    Product Specs

    Type Oil warmer
    Power Electric
    Adjustable scent Yes
    Duration Over 30 days on high and continuous mode
    5

    Best Air Freshening Gel

    Fresh Wave

    Odor Removing Gel

    Product Specs

    Type Gel
    Power Evaporation
    Adjustable scent No
    Duration 30 to 60 days
    6

    Best Linen Air Freshener

    Caldrea

    Linen and Room Spray Air Freshener

    Product Specs

    Type Liquid
    Power Pump sprayer
    Adjustable scent No
    Duration Variable
    7

    Best Bathroom Air Freshener

    Poo-Pourri

    Before-You-Go Toilet Spray

    Product Specs

    Type Spray
    Power Pump sprayer
    Adjustable scent No
    Duration Up to 100 uses for 2 oz. size
    8

    Best Air Freshener for the Car

    Febreze

    Car Air Freshener Vent Clips

    Product Specs

    Type Liquid
    Power Air flow
    Adjustable scent Yes
    Duration Up to 30 days on low
    9

    Best Candle Air Freshener

    MRS. MEYER’S CLEAN DAY

    Scented Soy Aromatherapy Candle

    Product Specs

    Type Wax candle
    Power Flame
    Adjustable scent No
    Duration 25 hours
    10

    Best Closet Air Freshener

    AIRBOSS

    Closet Dehumidifier

    Product Specs

    Type Crystals
    Power Absorption
    Adjustable scent No
    Duration Variable
    11

    Best Diffuser Air Freshener

    Vitruvi

    Stone Diffuser

    Product Specs

    Type Oil
    Power Electric
    Adjustable scent No
    Duration 8 hours maximum

    How we test air fresheners

    Air fresheners are tricky to test in the Lab, especially in the expansive, wide open spaces of our Good Housekeeping Institute testing labs and test kitchens. The best way to test them is in specially constructed small, climate-controlled “smell” chambers where a measured amount of malodor and the test fragrance are injected in and trained testers rate the extent of removal. Since we don’t have these chambers, we evaluate air fresheners — of which we’ve tested dozens through the years the way consumers do by using them. In the Lab, we cook stinky foods, make stinky garbage, put wet towels into plastic storage containers to make them smell musty and ask staffers for stinky pet toys and clothing items they’d like to donate for testing. We then call in staffers to smell these containers or the air before and after using the test products to rate the performance. We assess the chemical formulas, safety data sheets, packaging, labeling, scent strength and duration and ease of use and we review the manufacturer’s documentation for the internal claim support testing they do. Finally, we have consumer testers use the products in their own homes and give us feedback via a detailed survey that is incorporated into our performance and ease-of use tabulations.

    What type of air freshener lasts the longest?

    Continuous fresheners, like gels, solids, diffusers, crystals and plug-ins work 24/7 so they are on the job and ready to tackle an odor as it happens. But because they work around the clock, they are emitting fragrance and also getting consumed when no odors may be present. Most usually last at least a month or more.

    Sprays work instantaneously and are the easiest way to achieve immediate odor removal results. You only spray them when and where you need them, but the scent can fade fairly quickly. And some may just cover up — not eliminate — an odor, only to have it return.

    Candles take a bit of time after lighting for the wax to melt and to begin emitting a fragrance. Even when they do, it may be more subtle than with other types of fresheners and fade quickly once the flame goes out. Candles are one of the most beautiful ways to impart fragrance in the air, plus they add a nice ambiance to the room. However, they can be dangerous, so never leave burning candles unattended and always keep them away from children and pets. Never burn a candle for longer than one hour per inch of the candle’s diameter. So, a three-inch wide candle should burn for no longer than three hours. Otherwise, it gets too hot and too much of it gets liquified. If that happens, jar candles can crack and pillar candles can leak and drip onto the furniture or counter.

    What to consider when buying an air freshener

    Type: Think about whether you want your space to be continually scented or you if prefer to impart a bit of freshness when you need it. Continuous air fresheners are hands-free and are especially helpful in small spaces, like trash cans, closets, the car or pet areas with persistent odors. Sprays work quickly in large open areas and provide targeted results while candles add warmth and subtle background fragrance to wherever they are placed. Most homes have a need for multiple types.

    Scent: The choices here are endless. You’ll find single scent notes, like lemon or lavender, but most air fresheners now also offer more complex scent combinations with woodsy, floral or spicy notes for a more upscale and appealing experience. Many are made with essential oils, though synthetic fragrances are just as effective. If you prefer continuous yet understated freshening, look for a product that allows you to adjust the level of scent it emits.

    Safety: Consider the makeup of your household and where you’ll be placing or using the air fresheners. Make sure that plug-ins, stick-ons or ones you set out on a shelf or counter are out of reach of children and pets. Sprays should not be used around birds and floors must be wiped dry of any mist from sprays to avoid slipping and falling. Candles need constant vigilance.

    Why trust Good Housekeeping?

    Carolyn Forte has over 40 years experience as a consumer products expert testing all kinds of products that both clean and remove odors from the air, fabrics, appliances and more. She has visited the testing facilities of air freshener manufacturers to see and experience firsthand the tests they conduct on their products to evaluate odor intensity and removal. Carolyn has also personally conducted air freshener research studies with consumers so she knows what they look for in scented cleaning products and air fresheners and presented the research findings at industry conferences and meetings.

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