Best air freshener: 17 reviewed buys to banish odours

Our favourite products for a lovely smelling home

A trio of the best air fresheners on yellow graphic background
(Image credit: Future)

If you are looking for the best air freshener to deodorize every room in your home, including your upholstery and furniture, then your eyes (and nose) have landed in the right place. These top buys in our guide emit a wonderful fragrance to banish odours – and in some cases, destroy bacteria at the same time. 

Whether you are searching for something for a specific use, for example, an air freshener for a car, something to use on a smelly carpet, or a recommendation for your stinky bin, then we can definitely help. We've tried, tested (and clearly loved) a range of air fresheners. The result? Obviously, our homes smell lovely, but we've also rounded up the top 17 buys, some of which can cover up bad odours, while others can purify the air in your home – and there are some eco-friendly picks. 

An integral part when it comes to cleaning your home, who doesn't finish a deep clean with a spritz of their favourite air freshener in each room? You can find our favourite cleaning products, as tested by the team, otherwise, for more fragrance suggestions see our best home fragrance guide which features candles and reed diffusers aplenty.

The best air fresheners, as tried and tested

Why you can trust Real Homes Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing products and services so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about how we test.

Real Homes review process

There's so much more to air fresheners than a scent in a spray can. As you will have seen above, freshening your home comes in all shapes, sizes, and textures. But with so many on the market, it's OK to be a little picky with your perfumed purchase. If you've got children, pets, or immunocompromised people in your household, you probably want to avoid pressurised gas. And, for some, automatic air fresheners can be more of a nuisance than a convenience. Though it's a hands-free device, how many of you have walked past one and got a spray in the face (or mouth)?

The job of testing air fresheners has been given to the entire Real Homes team so that we can test them in pet-friendly households, smaller spaces, busy family households and every situation in between. Everyone below has tested their air freshener(s) for a number of weeks, and if they would repurchase them, then we've added them to this list.

Meet the team members who've tested these air fresheners.

Annie Collyer illustration
Annie Collyer

With two pets at home, Annie is forever searching for air fresheners to ensure her home doesn't have that god-awful pet smell. Whilst trying to be kind to the environment and obviously only using solutions that are safe to use around pets, that is.

Annie has tested a large range of products in this guide, but her favourite has to be Puressentiel's Purifying Air Spray. She loves to spray it once in all of her bedrooms and leave it to work its magic, whilst it's especially great for use in her windowless bathroom. It never clogs the air and smells so natural. Otherwise, she's obsessed with Zoflora's Fresh Home (opens in new tab) as it's pet-friendly and she can use it with peace of mind around her Pug.

The 1001 Carpet Fresh was previously a big win for her and she mostly used it on her living room rug to keep it smelling fresh, whilst she also likes the Air Wick Botanica Room Spray for use just before guests arrive, to freshen upholstery and to spray in her hallway. The Airwick Essential Mist Kit is another bathroom win as it automatically dispenses fragrance, and it looks sleek at the same time.

Jenny illustration
Jenny McFarlane

Jenny lives in a four-bedroom house with her husband, elderly cat, and toddler daughter (plus another babe on the way). She has a nose like a bloodhound so is always looking for the best air fresheners to get rid of all the smells these three create. She likes to make sure that the lovely smells she does use in her home are ones she enjoys using and are as natural as possible.

Jenny tested the Home Pourri Fresh Air room spray (opens in new tab) which she really loves using in her own home for everything from freshening up carpets to quickly spritzing around her cat's litter tray and bins. Each of the three fragrances in the collection smell really natural and the no-nasties formula means she doesn't have to worry about it being safe around her cat or child. 

Christina author photo
Christina Chrysostomou

When she's not testing out the efficacy of cleaning products, Christina can be found cooking in the kitchen, whipping up traditional Greek Cypriot and Mauritian delights. But while fragrant spices and herbs fill the air, there comes a time when she seeks respite from the savoury scent of closely-guarded recipes.

The Febreze Unstoppable Air Freshener in Sweet Dream scent (opens in new tab) is her all-time favourite mid-priced product. She thinks it's great value when sold normal price, but definitely keeps her eyes peeled for a promotional offer. With Middle-Eastern roots, it comes as no surprise that she loves the Diptyque Baies Scented Oval too (when she has a few spare pennies). Though it's berry-scented, she can also pick up a floral bouquet which takes her back to nostalgic times of drinking rose cordial with her late grandmother. And, when life gives her lemons – Christina squeezes this scent into her motor with the AREON Ken car air freshener.

Image of Molly Cleary author photo
Molly Cleary

Molly isn't a lover of overpowering scents and always reverts back to classic combinations at home for that sense of familiarity. 

Molly's boyfriend hates artificial smells, so a plug-in is the only way she can sneak an air freshener into the mix without him noticing. That's why this Yankee Plug In (opens in new tab) is the perfect no-maintenance air freshener for her space. With no spritzing involved, all she needs to do is plug it in and remember to top it up every once in a while. Her favourite is the Vanilla Lime scent, (opens in new tab) which brings something fresh to her favourite reliable fragrance type. She's also a big fan of how you can see precisely how much fragrance is left in the small glass bottle before it needs to be refilled.

Which type of air freshener should I buy?

There's no one-size-fits-all when it comes to air fresheners. In fact, this will hugely depend on where you want to use your new air freshener, and whether you want something that you can control — or if you'd rather an automatic air freshener.

Here are the main types of air freshener:

  • Spray air fresheners are great for using pretty much anywhere, but especially on fabrics and upholstery. You can control how much scent they emit, and when they work. Opt for a mist for a lighter fragrance.
  • Plug-in air fresheners are automatic so that you needn't fuss about ensuring your home smells nice. Just choose your fragrance and plug it into a socket.
  • Disinfectant air fresheners, such as a bottle of Zoflora, will need to be diluted with water, into a spray bottle, to work.
  • Diffuser air fresheners also work on their own, with no need for a human to press go. These can sit atop a side, whether hidden or on display.
  • Gel air fresheners tend to be compact, and you just need to display them up high on a surface so that they emit scent.
  • Solid air fresheners might need to be hung, or they will need to be placed away from things, to ooze fragrance.

What is the best air freshener?

Tried and tested by the Real Homes team, we think the best air freshener for your home is the Puressentiel Purifying Air Spray. Although it has a larger price tag than others, just one spray will eliminate any lingering smells in your home and it contains 41 essential oils.

Homemade air freshener recipe

Not a fan of strong commercial fragrances, or simply want to make a cheaper version of one of the all-natural room fresheners on our list? Couldn't be easier.

You will need:

1. Distilled water (opens in new tab) – this is important to make sure your spray lasts;
2. Rubbing alcohol (opens in new tab) or cheap vodka (opens in new tab).
3. Essential oil of your choice (we like lavender (opens in new tab));
4. A spray bottle – we like this glass set from Amazon (opens in new tab)

  1. Mix the vodka and distilled water in a ratio of 1:4 (this is approximate, nothing bad will happen if it's not exact).
  2.  Add about 10 drops of essential oil.
  3. Pour into the spray bottle, and shake well. This works a treat as an ironing water, too. If using citrus oil, avoid spraying directly on fabrics. 

Air fresheners are a great alternative to using one a candle, and they are especially brilliant for daily use. They tend to smell a lot stronger, last a lot longer and are cheaper to buy; similar to using a body spray on a daily basis and saving your favourite eau de parfum for special occasions. They're also a lot safer as there are no flames or electrical outlets involved.

There's nothing to say you can't use an air freshener with another home fragrance at the same time — perhaps the one of the best essential oil diffusers, or even one of our favourite reed diffusers. Mix and match to ensure your home smells great all of the time.

Bad smells at home – what's the biggest offender?

Carpets are the worst culprits for spreading those nasty whiffs, but curtains and upholstery come close behind. The best way to tackle them (other than introducing air fresheners) is to pay them a visit while armed with the best vacuum cleaner. This ought to make your air fresheners much more effective.

Find out more in our guide to cleaning a carpet.

Annie Collyer
Head Ecommerce Editor

Hi! I'm Annie, and I'm the Head Ecommerce Editor at Real Homes. Along with my team, I'm here to review all of the products you might be considering buying for your home. As someone who lives in a flat with a small amount of storage space to work with, and with two indoor pets to clean up after, I am forever searching for stylish yet functional appliances that won't blemish my decor if I can't fit them in a cupboard. I love decorating my living room for each season, while my other hobbies include drinking a decent cup of coffee, going on park walks with my dog and enjoying an Instagrammable brunch with my husband.

With contributions from