11 Best Air Fresheners for Every Room in Your Home

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Including sprays, plug-ins and more from your bathroom to your kitchen. Odor Eliminator Spray

11 Best Air Fresheners for Every Room in Your Home

You could follow your cleaning schedule to a T, but if your home doesn't smell clean, it won't feel clean. You know what it's like to leave and come home only to smell the garlic you sautéed at dinner or your pet's dander. And if you smell it, so will your guests. Thankfully, a good air freshener is an easy and cheap way to infuse your home with a long-lasting scent as well as eliminate — not just cover up! — odors without being too overpowering.

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. When we test air fresheners — both in the Lab and at home to simulate real-life conditions — we assess the intensity of the scent initially and over time, monitor how long the fragrance lasts (especially if they claim to work for weeks or months) and evaluate ease of use. In addition, we check for any leakage or damage to surrounding surfaces as well as any specific performance claims the product makes.

Read on to learn more details about how we test air fresheners and what to consider when buying an air freshener. If you're looking for more ways to freshen up your space, we also have round-ups of the best shoe deodorizers and the best car air fresheners.

Plug-ins can’t be beat for non-stop freshening. In our GH Cleaning Lab tests, we found that when set to “low,” the scent was very pleasant and noticeable — even in large spaces — for a full 50 days. GH Seal star Febreze’s Fade Defy Plug uses two compatible alternating scents to so that once your nose begins to get used to one and you stop smelling it, the other kicks in. This way, you’re always detecting a whiff of scent to remind you that it’s working. Switching between the two oils keeps the wicks from clogging, too, which is another reason some plug-ins stop working before the oil is used up.

Even more innovative, this $5 air freshener digitally monitors and controls the oil warmer for a more even and consistent release of the scent. No longer will you get a strong burst only to have it fade quickly away. Other features we liked include the adjustable scent level (though even on "low" it may be a bit strong for small spaces) and the light alert for when a new refill is needed.

Another GH Seal star, this inexpensive air freshening spray doesn’t just cover up smells, but actually neutralizes and eliminates them by encapsulating and deactivating odor molecules in the air while adding a burst of fragrance. That's a lot of bang for the buck.

We first tested Febreze many years ago in our GH Cleaning Lab and it continues to perform well in our tests. It gets rid of strong smoke and cooking odors quickly, even in our large Good Housekeeping test kitchens, and pet owners — even those with cats and litter boxes to contend with — who tested this at home reported that it eliminated the dank smell in their living areas where pets hang out. The trigger spray nozzle is comfortable to hold, and it uses nitrogen to propel a fine mist from the can. Safety note: Be sure to wipe up any overspray that falls onto bare floor surfaces. It can make them slippery.

Fresh Wave’s odor eliminator comes in the form of a gel that evaporates over time as it nixes airborne odors. Simply peel off the seal on the jar and screw the vented lid back in place. Set it on a counter, tabletop or shelf to continuously deodorize spaces up to 200 square feet. Fresh Wave’s line of deodorizers have worked well in GH tests, and we’ve found this gel to be a convenient and effective way to eliminate odors in confined spaces, like from burned popcorn in the microwave where you wouldn’t use traditional sprays or other methods.

Fresh Wave Gel is plant-based and claims to be safe for people, pets and the planet with no synthetic perfumes, alcohol or phthalates. It is EPA Safer Choice certified too, meaning the product contains chemical ingredients that are generally recognized as safer. Multiple reviewers were wowed at its ability to eliminate odors from their house full of dogs or cats and said that it doesn’t just mask the odor, but actually gets rid of it. When the gel disappears, the jars are refillable. The gel evaporates slowly, so you won't likely notice immediate results and larger spaces may need multiple jars.

Don't let its size or inexpensive price fool you — this cheap little air freshener does things we've never seen before from a plug-in, and for under $6. Glade's Plug-in Plus saves energy and extends the life of its fragrance with its unique rest or sleep cycle. Simply set the device to stop emitting scent for eight hours when everyone is sleeping or if you'll be away for the day. It also has an indicator light when the oil level is at 30%, so you know it’ll soon be time for a refill. When it does run out, the auto shut-off feature kicks in, so there’s no wasted electricity. Why didn't someone think of this sooner?

In our Lab tests, its great performance and innovative features wowed us. The scent it emitted was pleasing and noticeable, though a bit robust at first, and the rest cycle was easy to set and change. We found the plastic refills lighter to handle than glass ones and think the auto-off feature is a very smart safety innovation. We stressed it in our testing by setting it to run continuously on the highest scent intensity and still got over 30 days of performance out of it. Dial it down and set the rest cycle and it'll last even longer.

A candle is a decorative and continuous way to freshen the air and give your home a distinctive, signature scent. Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day products are well known for its luscious, realistic, essential oil fragrances, and these garden-inspired scented candles are no exception. Mrs. Meyer’s cleaning products do well in GH Lab tests and the candles come in a wide variety of the same floral fragrances such as lavender, basil, geranium, honeysuckle and lemon verbena.

The candle is made of soy and vegetable wax and has a lead- and metal-free wick. We confirmed it lives up to its claimed to burn time of up to 25 hours, and when it runs out, the jar is recyclable or reusable. We especially like the screw-top lid that protects the wick and keeps the candle surface free of dust when it's not in use. With almost 3,500 reviews on Amazon and a 4.3 rating, multiple shoppers said they found the aroma very pleasing, though some said it was not noticeable enough and others complained that it didn't burn all the way down.

Impressively sleek, this diffuser freshens the air using a blend of water and essential oils. It runs continuously for four or eight hours and shuts off automatically once it runs dry. Its outer stone casing — unlike most plastic diffusers — gives it a sophisticated look. In testing by our GH Wellness Lab, Vitruvi was rated best overall with Lab experts and consumers in our best essential oil diffusers review. Perfect for bedrooms, bathrooms or any place you want to evoke a relaxing vibe, it comes in four matte colors, including white, eucalyptus, lavender and cocoa.

These closet dehumidifying crystals eliminate and prevent musty odors by absorbing moisture and removing excess humidity from the air. In GH tests, airBOSS was especially effective in musty closets and kept winter coats smelling fresh even in storage during humid summer months. To use, simply remove the aluminum seal and place the canister of crystals with its vented top on a closet shelf, in a small bathroom or a basement or garage storage area. Once the crystals turn into liquid, it’s time to empty and replace it.

Luxurious and versatile, this spray can be used to add a rich, inviting fragrance to your home, car or linens. Caldrea is known for its creative mix of unique essential oils that produce fragrances with depth and pampering qualities. We especially like spraying it on clean bed linens when making up the bed. Trust us, you'll feel like you’re in a 5-star hotel when you slip between the sheets. It can even be sprayed on linens as you iron.

The spray is a Lab and consumer favorite and was a 2021 Good Housekeeping Cleaning Award winner. With over 1,400 reviews on Amazon and score of 4.4 stars, shoppers praise it for its light scent that’s refreshing but not overpowering. Caldrea is more about imparting a light, fresh scent than it is tackling tough odors, so persistent smells may need a second application.

These mini devices are an ingenious and discreet way to freshen the air in your car. They attach to your car's air vent via a clip in the back and emit the fragrance as cool or warm air wafts through it. A GH Seal star, Febreze Car has a dial to adjust the scent intensity to low, medium or high, so as not to overpower the limited air space of a car. However, even on the lowest setting it may be a bit strong at first for some.

In our tests, it lasted up to 30 days when used on the lowest setting as claimed, but the one we recently placed into a Jeep Grand Cherokee lasted well over a month. It's a fan favorite on Amazon with over 8,500 reviews and a 4.6 rating. Shoppers comment that this is their favorite car freshener as it eliminates the distracting — and admittedly unattractive — “tree” hanging from the rearview mirror. Not to mention, when you consider the price is for a pack of four, this is a pretty inexpensive option, too. For those who prefer not to have fragrance blowing on them when driving, simply clip it to a rear seat vent.

Poo-Pourri works by creating a barrier on the toilet water’s surface to trap odors and keep them from reaching the air. All you do is spritz three to five sprays onto the water in the bowl before you go. In our tests, we were impressed by how well it kept bathroom smells from becoming airborne, plus how pleasant a scent it left behind.

Poo-Pourri is made with natural essential oils and claims to contain no alcohol or formaldehyde. To confirm that fact in our Good Housekeeping Seal testing, we review graphs of the chemical profile of every new Poo-Pourri fragrance covered by our GH Seal. Poo-Pourri comes in an incredibly varied array of scents with clever names (Royal Flush anyone?) and several sizes, even for travel. The mini bottles are pretty enough to leave out for guests to use, too.

Febreze has some of the most inexpensive, hardworking air fresheners out there, and the newest entry from the brand specifically targets kitchen odors and imparts a fresh lemon scent that's long-lasting. In our GH Cleaning Lab tests, it removed the lingering smells of fish and bacon so well that even after our testers left home and returned, the offensive odors were a distant memory.

Its ability to obliterate garbage can odors even helped it win a 2022 Good Housekeeping Cleaning & Organizing Award. When sprayed into a stinky trash can, odors dissipated almost instantly. Like with all sprays, be aware that when the spray hits the floor, it can make them slippery.

Air fresheners can be tricky to test, especially in the expansive, wide open spaces of our Good Housekeeping Institute testing labs and test kitchens. Technically speaking, 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 types of chambers in our Labs, we evaluate air fresheners — of which we've tested dozens through the years — the way consumers do: by using them in our day-to-day tasks.

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.

Unfortunately, there isn't an easy answer, as all air fresheners have their own set of pros and cons, depending on your target area and personal preferences.

✔️ Continuous — or automatic — air 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.

✔️ Type: Think about whether you want your space to be continually scented or if you 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.

✔️ Price: You don't have to spend a lot of money for a high-quality air freshener. In fact, our Lab pros found that most of the best air fresheners only cost between $5 and $10. More expensive options, like a diffuser, should be considered an investment, since you'll get more use out of them over time.

When it comes to air fresheners, if it's a spray, be sure to spray a product toward the center of the room in a sweeping motion to get the best coverage. For plug-ins, make sure nothing is blocking them and to change the refill as soon as it’s empty. Don’t forget to spray soft surfaces, like carpets, upholstery, pet beds and drapes as they can retain odors, too.

And if you're selling your home and want to subtly appeal to potential buyers, go for a scent that appeals to the most people. Spicy scents like cinnamon, cloves or vanilla or baking scents or subtle herb scents, like basil, are most appealing; stay away from anything too sweet, fruity or overpowering.

Carolyn Forté has over 40 years of 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. Forté 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.

Carolyn Forté brings more than 40 years of experience as a consumer products expert to her role as executive director of the Good Housekeeping Institute's Home Care and Cleaning Lab. Using deep analytical testing and writing expertise in appliances, cleaning, textiles and organizational products, she produces cleaning and home care advice for GH, has authored numerous books and bookazines for the brand and partners with the American Cleaning Institute to co-produce the Discover Cleaning Summits. She holds a bachelor's degree in family and consumer sciences from Queens College, City University of New York.

Jamie Kim is a consumer products expert with over 17 years of experience in areas of product development and manufacturing. She has held leading roles at both mid-size consumer goods companies and one of the most notable and largest apparel brands in the world. Jamie has contributed to several of the GH Institute Labs, including Kitchen Appliances, Media and Tech, Textiles and Home Appliances. In her free time she enjoys cooking, traveling, and working out.

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11 Best Air Fresheners for Every Room in Your Home

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