Are There Home Air Fresheners That Really Work?

For centuries, humans have tried to make their homes smell nicer. The Egyptians used ingredients like Lotus and Jasmine to make fragrances. In ancient China, burning fragrant incense was more common. It also doubled up as a way to disinfect the home. The ancient Greece left mint leaves strewn around the house.

Modern air fresheners have gotten a bit more sophisticated though they use many of the same ingredients as the Egyptians and other ancient societies. There are also many more options to choose from ranging from homemade air fresheners to aerosol sprays.

So it can be a bit confusing to know which air freshener is best for your needs. Here are a few things to consider when shopping for an air freshener.

You May Need More Than One Type

It’s true that all air fresheners are used to ward off bad smells and make a space smell nice and fresh. But that doesn’t mean that one type of air freshener will serve all your needs.

For instance, a plug-in air freshener is great for the living room where you need the fragrance 24/7 but you need something different for the bathroom.

And even a standard aerosol spray air freshener may not work very well in a bathroom. You need one formulated specifically for bathroom smells such as the popular before-you-go air fresheners.

In the end, you may find that you need more than one air freshener to cover all your needs.

Here is my recommendation. Determine what your needs are.

Do you just want a fresh smelling home?

A plugin, automatic or wax air freshener is good enough.

Do you have pets?

You may also need a pet smell-absorbing air freshener.

Do you want an air freshener specifically for the bedroom?

Add an essential oil diffuser to your shopping list.

Once you determine your needs, find the best one or two (or even three) air fresheners that will work for you.

Health and Safety

Aerosol air fresheners, once very popular, have been overtaken by other types of air fresheners as families worry about their health effects. Research has found that some spray air fresheners contain low levels of harmful ingredients that not only harm people’s health but also the environment.

Many aerosol air fresheners today are largely harmless as manufacturers have turned to safer ingredients. But you should still be careful. Check the ingredients for any chemical that concerns you. Also keep an eye out on any ingredient that could cause an allergic reaction in you or a member of your family. Even safe ingredients can cause serious allergic reactions in some people.

If you’d rather not buy a synthetic air freshener, there are plenty of natural options you can buy or make at home. Many reed diffusers use 100% natural essential oils. You can also get a wax heater and add your own natural or organic wax.

Masking or Absorbing

If you want to tackle a bad stink, you need to be more careful about which air freshener you get. Most air fresheners just mask bad smells. That’s okay if your home doesn’t have any particularly bad stinks and you just want a citrus or lavender fragrance in the air.

But it’s going to be ineffective against pet smells, smoke and mouldy smells. For that, you need an air freshener that absorbs rather than masks the smells.

There are several air fresheners that do this. They usually consist of natural absorbent materials like activated charcoal or Zeolites (a type of mineral).

These air fresheners will eliminate stinks completely. You can pair one up with a standard air freshener to add a lovely fragrance to your home or car.

Ease of Use

Finally, consider how easy to use the air freshener is. Spray air fresheners are the most inconvenient but they are perfect for the bathroom or single rooms. You only spray it when you need the fragrance.

If you want your home to always smell nice, I recommend something that doesn’t require any extra effort. Some good options include plug-in air fresheners, automatic spray air fresheners, reed and essential oil diffusers and wax heaters.

With these air fresheners, you just set it up and leave it. Others even have a timing function where you can control which hours the fragrance is emitted and at what intensity.


You may have to try out different air fresheners until you find the one that works best for you. If you can’t find a good one at all, try making your own at home. There are plenty of easy recipes online.

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