Best Car Perfumes
Remember when you bought your new car right off the showroom? Remember that great new car smell it had? Even if you’ve never owned a new car before, you have for sure heard about that peaceful smell of clean metal, plastics, and upholstery.
Unfortunately, the “new car smell” rarely stays for longer than a few days. As you ease back into normality with your new car, chances are it will start smelling a little worse each day. Since you can’t always give your car a proper shower inside out, you’ll soon find the need to buy a car perfume.
Car perfumes are like body deodorants for your car. They replace the nasty odours in the interior with a welcoming fragrance.
Cars can smell bad for a lot of reasons. If you feel your car’s cabin smells horrible, you need to deep clean your car. Maybe even take it for a professional clean. For most car owners though cabin odours are because of routine use.
Car perfumes, much like your personal cologne or deodorant, come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Car perfumes don’t all work the same way and are often designed to deliver different results as well.
Selecting an air freshener for your car depends on a lot more than just choosing a flavour or fragrance you like. We’ll dive deeper into how car perfumes work and compare the available options so you can get the most for your money
Why does your car smell bad?
A car’s interior collects dust, moisture, and junk over time. Some of these linger and can cause an undesirable odour in the cabin. In some cases, the problem might lie with other parts of your car such as the AC unit or the air vents.
In the worst of situations, accumulated moisture may be a breeding ground for fungi (mould) and bacteria. Left unchecked these microbes flourish and will make your car smell like a stale pond! Oil and coolant leaks can cause undesirable smells in your car. If this is the case, such problems are best taken care of by a professional.
For the vast majority of car owners though the bad smell in their cars is often due to just daily use. Since cleaning the interior of your car can be an intense affair, most owners are not likely to do so regularly. For most people, their car won’t smell horrible but it won’t smell pleasant either.
Car perfumes much like air fresheners used in homes and offices can bring a new breath of life into a car’s cabin. Perfumes can neutralize bad odours and replace them with a welcoming fragrance.
Perfumes for your car!
Car perfumes are similar to the perfumes and air fresheners we use daily. They’re a pleasant smelling mixture of aromatic compounds and essential oils. They’re usually dissolved in a solvent like alcohol to enhance their effect.
Perfumes can contain one or more such aromatic oils. Simple fragrances such as Lemon and Vanilla contain only the respective oils. Complicated fragrances like wood and musk usually contain a mixture of essential oils.
Manufacturers often put in years of research in formulating a perfume to produce a scent that is pleasant and agreeable to most buyers. Since such combinations are endless, no matter what your tastes are, you’ll find a product matching it. If standard car perfumes don’t catch your fancy, you can choose an exotic luxury perfume. Such scents, often inspired by luxury brands will make your cabin stand out.
If you’re willing to get your hands dirty though or be a little creative, you can design your own car perfume. We talk about this at the end of this guide.
How do car perfumes work?
Car perfumes are a mixture of aromatic compounds in a solvent or a carrier. When exposed to air they evaporate and fill the space with pleasant aromas. Some car perfumes also come with a deodorizing agent that neutralizes unpleasant smells. The oils then take over to give a clean scent.
Perfumes can diffuse at different intensities. How strong perfumes smell and spread are down to the ratio of aroma oils to solvents. A strong-smelling car perfume would usually contain a higher proportion of aroma oils. The kind of solvents and their quantity in the perfume decides how fast it spreads. Alcohol is a common solvent used in perfumes. Gel-based carriers are also popular because they last longer.
As a rule of thumb, the more intense the fragrance, the faster it evaporates and the shorter it lasts. How and where you use your perfume can also affect its life. Exposure to airflow and high-temperatures will cause your perfume to run out faster.
Types of car perfumes
Car perfumes come in a variety of shapes and sizes. The most common of which are gels, liquid diffusers, and scented cardboards. Air freshener spray cans like those used in households are also marketed for use in cars. We’ll see how these various car perfumes work and make a note of some popular brands that sell them.
Car perfume gels like Ambipur contain perfume embedded in a semi-solid gel. You can control how intense the scent is by changing how much of the gel gets exposed to air. The gel absorbs molecules that cause bad odour and release perfume at the same time.
The car perfume range by Rituals features a gel refill that attaches to the air vents in your car. The air, when passed through the gel, spreads a pleasant aroma and removes odours. These last up to a month but will run out fast when left open.
Febreze is a brand famous for their odour neutralizing can sprays. They also make air fresheners for cars using the same compound. It can neutralize odours effectively resulting in a scent that smells cleaner.
Liquid Car Perfume
Liquid perfume diffusers let aromatic oils evaporate through a specially designed lid. Liquid perfume diffusers come in passive and powered forms. Powered perfume diffusers use heat to evaporate and spread the perfume. Passive diffusers usually have a wick or a lid that lets the aromatic oils evaporate naturally. Perfume diffusers like these need constant airflow to spread their scent. You can shake the bottle or invert it (with the lid on) to get a sudden wave of the fragrance. Liquid perfume dispensers are common with designer and luxury car perfumes. We’ll take a look at them in the next section.
Scented Cardboard Air Fresheners
Scented cardboards are also very popular as car air fresheners. Little trees, a well-known brand specializes in such car colognes. In this case, the perfume is actually set in a piece of cardboard. Tiny cellulose fibres inside the cardboard absorb odours and disperse perfume at the same time. Cardboard car perfumes leave a constant hint of perfume in the cabin. They don’t last long and are not very intense either. They’re a low maintenance choice since there is no risk of spillage or complex setups required. These are often cheaper than other types of car perfumes as well.
Best Luxury Car Perfumes
If you’re not satisfied with a run of the mill car perfume, you can opt for designer perfumes. These often cost more and come with fragrances inspired by luxury perfume brands. Designer perfumes for cars are often a blend of different scents and fragrances. Unlike standard car air fresheners, they smell premium and complex. They’ll raise the oomph factor inside your car by creating an air of class and sophistication.
High-end luxury perfumes are used as a base to create these perfumes. Makers of designer car perfumes often try to replicate the originals perfumes this way. They try to match the fragrance notes as much as possible. Additives and extra solvents are often added to adapt these for use in cars as well.
Designer car perfumes often come in a diffuser bottle that you can hang in your car.
The luxury car perfume market has a lot of great options. How good the perfume is will depend on the manufacturer’s capabilities and of course the original perfumes they’re based on.
So, we did the homework for you and narrowed the list down to some of the best luxury car perfumes on the market. We’ve also mentioned the original luxury brands they’re inspired from in case you’re curious.
- Black Opium Car Air Freshener
- Modelled after the legendary YvesSaintLaurent Black Opium
- Features a permeable wooden lid that lets the perfume out gradually
- Key fragrance notes include coffee and vanilla
- Targeted primarily at women
- Alien Car Air Freshener
- Inspired by the extraordinary namesake scent from Mugler
- The tiny diffuser bottles can be hung from the rear-view mirror
- Keynotes include hints of amber, jasmine and cashmere wood
- The perfume features a pronounced flowery note that is targeted at women
- Kreed Aventos Car freshener
- Takes inspiration from luxury perfume brand Creed’s Aventus Eau de parfum
- Comes in both vent clip and diffuser bottle types
- Sophisticated woody notes with hints of sweet fruit and leather
- Targeted at men because of its strong musk-like scent
- Inspired by Armani Sì car air freshener
- Inspired by the Giorgio Armani Si women’s perfume
- Typical diffuser bottle setup
- Noticeable fragrance notes include blackcurrant, musk wood, and rose
- The original Armani Si is marketed as a modern women’s fragrance
- SPRY car perfumes
- SPRY is a relatively new brand that made its maiden appearance in 2017
- They specialize in producing signature premium perfumes for use in cars, wardrobes, motorhomes, etc.
- Unlike other luxury perfume offerings, they don’t model their products after popular brands
- They’re among the most economical designer car perfumes you can buy
If you have a favourite perfume you use, chances are you’ll be able to find an alternative of the same for your car too. As perfumes are quite personal, you might go through a lot of trial and error before you find something you like. This can be an issue especially if you’re not used to designer perfumes beforehand.
You can make your own car perfumes using common aroma oils. This is a cost-effective way to get customized car perfumes.
Personalised Car Perfumes
Like we mentioned before cardboard based car perfumes are a cheap way to freshen up your car. They also provide the widest variety of fragrances. Brands like Little Tree (previously magic tree) boast of countless flavours ranging from bubble gum to even bourbon.
Since they’re so affordable and wide-spread, companies now offer customised car perfumes to let you stand apart. These are common as a promotional give-away for businesses. They can be seen in car-washes and car detailing shops where they’re given away to customers as a marketing gesture.
You can choose the size, shape, thickness and the fragrances that these come with. You can also design your own car perfume by getting custom artwork or logos printed on the cardboard. Although often bought and dealt with by businesses, they are as popular with individual customers as well. You can get a car perfume printed with a photo of your loved ones or your pet along with a scent of your liking.
In the UK, custom car perfume dealers like Sniffing Frog and Car Air Fresheners Direct specialize in bulk orders of personalised perfumes. With high minimum order quantities, they are not usually consumer-friendly options though. Websites like Etsy and Doodle Togs, however, take individual orders and deliver in smaller quantities.
You should keep the following in mind before buying personalised car air fresheners:
- Thickness of the cardboard – Sandwiched between the outer cardboard layers are densely packed cellulose fibres that adsorb bad odours while letting out the perfume. The thicker the cardboard, the more bad odour it can adsorb and more perfume it can hold. Thicker cardboard perfumes also last longer.
- The shape of the cardboard – Cardboard car perfumes come in all shapes and sizes. You can choose between shapes like circles, squares, triangles or even get a custom shaped cardboard for your perfume. The latter might add extra cost to the order.
- The fragrance – Companies are likely to have a lot of agreeable scents that they’ll let you choose from. Some of the most common ones being citrus, sweet and fruity, lavender, musk, etc. You can also get a customised perfume mix suited to your tastes from most suppliers. This can mean an increased minimum order quantity though.
- Quantity of aromatic oil – Aromatic oils, both natural and artificially synthesized, are expensive. A higher quantity of aromatic oils would mean a longer-lasting and better-sustained car perfume. Depending on your climate and usage 2-3 ml of aromatic oils per piece of cardboard should last you for a month.
- Order quantities and price – Min order quantities vary by suppliers. As a consequence of economies of scale, a larger order quantity will mean a lower per-unit price. Minimum order quantities will also increase if you opt for custom shapes or fragrances.
Another thing to note is that if you’re ordering large batches of such perfumed cardboards, suppliers will likely offer you samples. Going through and testing the samples before buying is better than ending up with a thousand units of car perfume you don’t like.
Bottles: Make Your Own Car Perfume
If store-bought car perfumes are not your type, you can make them at home. Mass-produced car air fresheners can be a hard sell because of safety concerns. Manufacturers often add additives to aroma oils and perfumes to enhance them. Some of these chemicals get released when the perfume is used. There may be a cause for concern as many of these chemicals are harmful.
Fortunately, you can buy perfume diffuser bottles and aroma oils to be your own perfumer.
Making car air fresheners at home is easy thanks to the broad availability of perfume oils and carrier solvents like alcohol. Simply mix the two in the required ratio and pour them into a perfume diffuser bottle.
To keep things safe and concise, you should keep the following in mind while mixing your own car perfume:
- Carriers and solvents – Aroma oils by themselves don’t vaporise easily. Carriers or solvents such as alcohol can dissolve aromatic substances and vaporise quickly. Adding solvents will help your essential oil better diffuse into the air. They can also enhance how fast the aroma oils spread. Too much alcohol would cause your mixture to run out too quickly and too less won’t be effective in helping the aromatic compounds escape from the bottle. Aim for a 30% to 50% ratio of aroma oil to alcohol for good results.
- Aroma oils – Essential oils like lavender and citrus are quite commonly available. Exotic scents will often cost more if you intend to get your hands dirty and want to create your own signature perfume. For car perfumes, you can make do with affordable lower grade essential oils. Mix and match till you find the right combination of oils to match your palate.
- Diffuser bottle lid – An ideal diffuser bottle should carry your perfume without spilling and aid in proper diffusion of aroma from the perfume. Diffuser bottles come with a cork-like wooden lid that absorb perfume and diffuse them into the air. Lids need to shut tight around the edges of the bottle to prevent accidental spillage while being porous enough to let the oils come up to be in contact with the air.
- Size of the diffuser bottle – Bottles usually come in sizes of 5-15 millilitres. The bigger bottles will naturally hold more perfume and require far less refilling than the smaller ones. However, a big bottle will bob around when you drive and might obstruct your view of the road.
- Lanyard – In cars, perfume diffuser bottles are usually hung from the rear-view mirror. Large and heavy glass bottles will require a lanyard that complements their heft. Broken shards of glass in your car is the last thing you need while driving, should the lanyard come off somehow.
Generic perfume diffuser bottles can be bought for very affordable prices from sites like AliExpress or Amazon. Some craft sites and stores also sell artisan diffuser bottles at similar prices if you’re looking for something more aesthetic to hold your perfume.