Air Fresheners, Which is the One for You

Modified On Oct 04, 2012 03:51 PM By CarDekho

Car air fresheners are one of those inevitable purchases that follow in the wake of a car purchase. And it is indeed one of the accessories that you will undoubtedly be in constant need of. No one likes to get into a car that has a bad odor around the interiors. What’s worse is that it will be unconsciously linked to your own personal sense of hygiene if your car smells bad. One obviously does not want ones friends thinking of them as a ‘smelly’ person, particularly when it comes to people of the opposite sex. No one wants to go on a date with someone who can’t even keep their car odor free.

However before you rush to the store to buy or replace your air freshener brands, take a moment to evaluate all your options, the disadvantages of these options and other important details regarding car air fresheners. Let’s start by listing all the available options in the market today. The main types of air fresheners for cars are as follow:

1.Hanging Cardboard Air Fresheners – These are one of the most cost effective and popular air fresheners used by people. Simply hand these from your rear view mirror or from one of the passenger handles and enjoy the scent produced by them. Since these are made from scented cardboard, they are relatively cheap. The disadvantage of this type of air freshener is its longevity. Although most manufacturers will give  you a life-time estimate of around 7-8 weeks, these tend to last for only half the time depending on factors like heat, air-flow, ventilation, humidity, dryness, etc.

2.Non-Hanging Paper Air Fresheners – This is a newer variant to the hanging type fresheners. They consist of a paper thin fabric imbibed with an oil based fragrance that both expels a pleasant smell and also absorbs unpleasant odor. However like its cardboard cousin, it has low life-span and is not very effective in the long run.

3.Aerosol/Spray Air Fresheners – These types are usually compact versions of the spray type air fresheners used in domestic environment. Usually they come in the form of a pressurized can that will spray a fragrance into your cars interiors and eliminate any unpleasant odors by overpowering it with a pleasant smelling fragrance. However, the problem with these types of air fresheners is the cost to duration ratio. Since this type of freshener relies on a liquid-gaseous spray, the effects do not last for very long and depending on usage often require constant refills which lead to higher costs as compared to other options. Another problem people face with this option is the overpowering smell. The stronger fragrances often release such a powerful smell that people find it annoying rather than comforting.

4.Sticky Gel Air Fresheners – Sticky gel based air fresheners have become quite popular over the last few years. This type of air freshener comes in the form of a sticky solid gel based compound that encapsulates the fragrant oil. Due to its nature the sticky gel air freshener is very convenient to use and can be placed on any dry surface of the car. However the disadvantages of this type of air freshener outweigh the advantages. Since it is not based on any form fragrance propulsion, the effects of the fragrance are limited and often not sufficient to remove particularly foul odors. The gel also tends to shrink and becomes useless if left in conditions of extreme heat.

5.Vent Stick Air Fresheners – Vent stick air fresheners come with a soft plastic covering up some form of oil based fragrance.They are usually small in size and can be affixed to the cars A/C vents via an alligator clip that will latch onto the flaps and provide a good smelling environment. Although it is relatively inexpensive, most people do not prefer this kind of freshener for a variety of reasons. For one, this type of air freshener requires propulsion via the air from the A/C which renders it useless during winters or in cold places where the use of A/C is non-existent. Another reason people shy away from them is due to their low life-span.

6.Can Air Fresheners – Can air fresheners are basically an upgraded version of the sticky gel based fresheners. These types of air fresheners consist of a can of plastic or metal in which a fragrant gel is placed. The lid usually comes with adjustable holes that determine the amount of fragrance that will escape form the can. Although more expensive than the traditional sticky gel based fresheners, the can air fresheners are usually longer lasting due to the protective plastic and adjustable lid. Once again the disadvantage of this type of air freshener is that it is not based on an active propulsion system, making it redundant for the particularly bad odors.

7.Oil Wick Air Fresheners – Oil wick air fresheners are one of the most preferred and widely used types of fresheners. This type of freshener consists of fragrance oil being poured into a vial or small bottle of plastic affixed with a porous wick that transports the oil from the bottle to the collar and is ventilated through slits in the cap. This device clips onto you’re A/C vents and usually gives rather good results. However this faces the same problems that the vent stick air freshener faces. One cannot use the A/C all the time which renders it useless. 

8.Oil Diffuser Air Fresheners – Oil diffuser air fresheners are the latest in air freshener technology.  Commonly known as diffusers, this type of air refreshers come with a mixed batch of fragrance oils contained in separate compartments in a plastic container. The container is backed by a semi-permeable membrane that diffuses the mixed fragrance via the A/C vents. The biggest advantage to this method is that it comes with a modulator to channel exactly how much fragrance you want to let out. This not only enables the passengers to breathe freely without the problem of an overwhelming scent but also improves the longevity of the freshener.

9.Plug-in Air Fresheners – Plug-in air fresheners, as the name suggests are plugged into the cars dashboard power outlet to infuse your car with a fragrance. The plug-in air freshener contains an oil based compound encased in a plastic covering that emits the fragrance upon being heated. Although a very cost effective and powerful tool, the plug-in air freshener is a liability to those who need the outlet for other uses such as charging of mobile phones, etc. Another problem is convenience since this model cannot be placed in other locations of the car.

10.Electric Car Ionizers – Electric car ionizers are quite obscure in developing nations like India. These are not so much air fresheners as they are air purifiers. They work by being plugged into a cars power outlet.  They usually come in two types; the filtering types and the ozone producing types. The filtering type works by heating a collect plate that generates a static charge that attracts all the negative ions in dust particles, bacteria and other pollutants. The ozone type works by producing O3 which bonds with the dust particles and pollutants thereby freshening the air quality and eliminating odors. However the static field generated is relatively small and therefore not very effective in large environments.

Now that we've given you a pro/cons analysis of the different types of air freshners out there, its time for us to tell you what we would advice for majority of the Indian consumers. And our verdict inevitably falls on 'Oil Wick Air Fresheners'. Why you ask? Well, considering its obvious advantages over the other types of air freshener and also its easy availibility and cost to advantage ratio, it is the obvious choice. Our readers are of course welcome to stick to their own preffered types, but always remember to experiment and try to find the perfect type of air freshener for you. Hope you found this a useful and entertaining read. Cheers!

Photography By - Sitaram Swami

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