Whether it’s a dirty dog, old food under the seats, or your gym bag next to you, sometimes the car just doesn’t smell that pleasant. Nothing is better than essential oils for eliminating odor and cleaning the air, but how can you diffuse in the car? We have five great choices for the best car diffuser, depending on your needs.
Not only are essential oils much healthier than chemical fragrances, they can actually help keep you alert and focused in the car. Perhaps even better, the more calming scents can help you navigate slow traffic without having a meltdown. And finally, the anti-bacterial properties of these oils actually cleanse, rather than just mask, unpleasant odors.
- Benefits of Essential Oils Over Chemical Fresheners in the Car
- What to Look for in a Car Diffuser
- Product Comparison 2018
- Product Reviews
- 1 BellaSentials Car Fragrance Diffuser, Essential Oil Car Charm, Perfect Car Accessory For A Heavenly Aroma, Enjoy Your Commute After A Long Day, Car Air Freshener, Bonus Crystals & Black Agate Tassel!
- 2 2PCS Car Diffuser Aromatherapy Essential Oil Vent Clip Stainless Steel Black Locket Tree of Life and Cloud with 10 Felt Pads from ttstar
- 3 Syntus USB Car Essential Oil Diffuser Mini Portable Aromatherapy Aroma Fragrance Humidifier Air Freshener Purifier for Vehicle Office Travel Home
- 4 ZAQ Tour Essential Oil Litemist Aromatherapy Travel Car Diffuser
- 5 Vyaime Car Diffuser Humidifier Aromatherapy Essential Oil Diffuser, Dual USB Car Charger, Sponges Filter Auto Shut-off Ultrasonic Air Purifier for Car
- Best Essential Oils for the Car
- Choosing the Best Brand of Essential Oil
- A Minor Word of Caution
Benefits of Essential Oils Over Chemical Fresheners in the Car
Essential oils are way better than chemical fresheners for a lot of reasons:
What to Look for in a Car Diffuser
Luckily there are a ton of different shapes, sizes, and designs associated with car diffusers, so you are sure to find something you like. Following are some factors to consider when choosing the best car diffuser for your vehicle and scent preferences.
There are a few different types of essential oil diffuser that work for a vehicle. Some are pendant-style and contain oil soaked pads inside them. The pads can be refilled and reused as needed. There are also pendant-style diffusers that clip to an air vent, which is a great way to disperse the scent. Others hang from the review mirror and use the swaying motion generated by the car’s movement to release their smell.
Pendant diffusers are attractive and come in many different patterns and designs. The downside is that they are pretty small and the internal pad can dry out relatively quickly, so you’ll need to refill or replace it often. You may also find that you need several pendants in order to release enough scent for the entire vehicle.
Another type is actually a mini diffuser for essential oils that disperses a combination of water and essential oil and is powered by the vehicle’s 12 volt or USB outlet. This will look a lot like your at-home diffuser and rest securely in a cup holder. The capacity for fragrance is a lot stronger with this type of diffuser, but refilling it requires water and can be a bit messy. You may also want to consider if your car can take the extra moisture without feeling muggy, and whether or not you can sacrifice one of your cup holders to the device.
Every vehicle is a little bit different, so keep this in mind when shopping. If you choose a mini diffuser for essential oils, most likely it will rest in a cup holder. Make sure the circumference of the diffuser is not too large to fit securely. If you choose a pendant diffuser, size is less of an issue. These tend to clip to an air vent. However, if the diffuser is too large it will limit the amount of heat or air conditioning you feel from that vent. Pendants that hang from the rearview mirror may block crucial sightlines if too big.
If you get an ultrasonic mini travel diffuser, you will also need to connect the device to power. Be aware of whether a particular diffuser has a 12 volt (cigarette lighter) attachment or a USB connector. Even if you get the wrong one, an adaptor is likely available to purchase separately that will allow you to make the connection. Pendant diffusers do not need power.
Ready to find the best car essential oil diffuser for you? Let’s shop!
Product Comparison 2018
Hangs on mirror
5 washable pads
Clips to vent
10 refill pads
Amazon A-to-Z guarantee
Refund or replace guarantee
12 Volt/Cup holder
One year warranty
Phone charging port
Refund or replace guarantee
1 BellaSentials Car Fragrance Diffuser, Essential Oil Car Charm, Perfect Car Accessory For A Heavenly Aroma, Enjoy Your Commute After A Long Day, Car Air Freshener, Bonus Crystals & Black Agate Tassel!
This pendant-style essential oil diffuser comes complete with an attractive tassel to attach it to your car’s rearview mirror. Made from high quality stainless steel, the pendant features a lovely flower pattern accented with purple jewels. Even without essential oils, this is a nice addition to your vehicle’s inside décor.
The diffuser opens easily much like a locket to refill or replace the essential oil diffuser pads. It comes with five pads that you can wash and reuse as needed. The recommended amount of essential oil per pad is about 5 drops, but some users have said they needed more than that to scent their entire vehicle. Just be careful not to use more oil than the pad can hold, or it will drip.
Bellasentials is a company that is 100% committed to customer satisfaction and will work to address any problem with the product.
- 1 x 1 x 0.2 inches
- 0.48 ounces
- Beautiful styling
- Sturdy construction
- Responsive customer service
- Fragrance may not reach whole car
- Tassel attachment too long for some vehicles
- Crystals loosen over time
2 2PCS Car Diffuser Aromatherapy Essential Oil Vent Clip Stainless Steel Black Locket Tree of Life and Cloud with 10 Felt Pads from ttstar
These pendant diffusers come in a pack of two, which is great for doubling up on your favorite scent or using two oils for a nice combo fragrance. Made of hypo-allergenic 316L surgical grade black stainless steel, they won’t fade, warp, or leave your skin green from handling them. The Tree of Life and cloud patterns are beautiful and go very nicely together. Get a different visual effect depending on which of the 10 multi-colored pads you snap inside.
Each pendant is an essential oil car vent clip rather than something that hangs from the mirror. The clip arms are rubber coated to achieve a good solid grip and also prevent scratching of your vents. The pendants have lots of holes in the back which allow for air from the vent to push the scent out into the car. It’s also nice that the fragrance can be directed toward passengers by adjusting the flappers on the vent. The manufacturer suggests one pendant in the front and one in the back for the best overall coverage.
The two pendants come packaged in a nice velvet storage bag and include 10 reusable essential oil diffuser pads. They are of various colors to help you distinguish what scent is on each. For maintenance, wash the pads in a hosiery bag in your washing machine, and simply wipe the steel pendants with a damp cloth.
- 30mm (1 1/8")
- 1.76 ounces
- Ideal size for vents
- Good fragrance distribution
- Attractive and sturdy
- Design will be sideways if car vents are vertical
- Vent clip may detach from back of pendant over time
- Pads should be refilled or replaced almost daily for best fragrance
3 Syntus USB Car Essential Oil Diffuser Mini Portable Aromatherapy Aroma Fragrance Humidifier Air Freshener Purifier for Vehicle Office Travel Home
This is an ultrasonic aromatherapy diffuser for car that works with water and oil. It’s a lot like the diffuser you probably use at home, but smaller. It takes power from a USB adaptor and rests securely in a cup holder. There are two misting modes – continuous mode releases a consistent stream of mist, and the intermittent mode works for 30 seconds on and 30 seconds off.
Users report being able to run their diffusers for 3-4 hours on one 50 ml fill-up. However, please note that if you overfill this diffuser, it will not work at all. The manufacturer also warns that the water can splash out if you come to a hard stop. The Syntus is equipped with an automatic shut-off when the water gets low enough to expose the coil in the bottom.
The seven-color mood lighting feature is a nice touch but be careful not to stare at it while driving! One of the nice things about this diffuser is that it can be used anywhere you have access to a USB port, not just in the car. So you may find the lighting feature more beneficial on your bedside table than in the car.
- 2.8 x 2.8 x 5.1 inches
- 5 ounces
- Powerful scent distribution
- Fits securely in cup holder
- Multiple misting modes
- Water may splash out with hard stop
- Bumpy road can loosen USB connection
- Water must be refilled frequently
4 ZAQ Tour Essential Oil Litemist Aromatherapy Travel Car Diffuser
This ZAQ diffuser is a mid-size model that holds 60 ml of water and can go for about four hours between refills. On intermittent mode, stretch the time to over five hours. Made of BPA-free plastic and connecting with a 12 volt adaptor, it is both easy and safe to use. The top cover lock keeps the water and oil inside, where it belongs, even during rough driving. Its special design also helps to prevent tipping while your vehicle is in motion.
Available in plain black or a range of two-tone options, this diffuser can either blend in or add a bit of flair to your vehicle’s interior. It comes with a car charger and home adapter for use anywhere, as well as a solid one year warranty.
- 3 x 3 x 8 inches
- 1.9 pounds
- Spill proof
- Good water capacity
- Multiple colors available
- Light mist
- Takes up a cup holder
- Long cord may tangle while in vehicle
5 Vyaime Car Diffuser Humidifier Aromatherapy Essential Oil Diffuser, Dual USB Car Charger, Sponges Filter Auto Shut-off Ultrasonic Air Purifier for Car
This handy little diffuser is designed to plug right into your car’s 12 volt cigarette lighter and suspend there – it does not require a cup holder. Even cooler, the device features two USB ports, so that you can charge multiple phones while diffusing. The oil and water container is attached to the plug arm, and can rotate 360 degrees to ensure that it won’t block any other components on your dash.
Available in black and white or purple and white, this 50 ml diffuser is compact and unobtrusive, yet does a great job of scenting any vehicle. It uses a sponge filter that can get clogged by lower quality oils, so make sure to use only water soluble oils of high purity.
The Vyaime works silently and has two mist settings. To add maximum moisture to the air, the humidifier mode works best. If long-lasting fragrance is your main concern, intermittent mode extends the length of time you can diffuse between refills.
- 4.6 x 4.3 x 2.8 inches
- 7 ounces
- Space saving compact and ergonomic design
- Included USB ports
- Dual mist modes
- Clogs easily with inferior oils
- Can be awkward to refill
- Filter sponge may need replaced after time
Best Essential Oils for the Car
Essential oils can help greatly in the car, from simply freshening the space to keeping the driver alert and quelling any car sickness in the passengers. But not all oils are suited for a moving vehicle. The last thing you want as a driver is to get sleepy! Following are some suggestions for oils to make your road trips or daily commutes pleasant, as well as a few you should probably stay away from for safety.
All of these oils are healthy and a great addition to your essential oil kit. We are only recommending that you be aware of their potential effects and use them prudently while operating heavy machinery. Read on for the best essential oils for car, broken down by complaint.
Complaint: Motion Sickness
Best Oils to Use: Ginger, peppermint, nutmeg, fennel
Stay Away from: Lavender and chamomile – they work great for nausea but can also cause sleepiness
Best Oils to Use: Peppermint, eucalyptus, cedarwood, citrus, bergamot
Stay Away from: Ylang-ylang, valerian, lavender, chamomile – they are very relaxing and known to help people drift off to sleep
Best Oils to Use: Rose, vetiver, frankincense, lemon, geranium
Stay Away from: We found no reports of oils that cause anxiety
Complaint: Trouble with focus
Best Oils to Use: Peppermint, rosemary, basil, sage, patchouli, cinnamon
Stay Away from: Clary sage, passionflower, valerian – these may cause a feeling of euphoria, which is great but can be distracting when you’re behind the wheel.
Complaint: Unpleasant or stale odors
Best Oils to Use: Largely depends on personal preference, but popular scents are jasmine, tea tree, sandalwood, peppermint, primrose
Stay Away from: Neem, vetiver, buckthorn – these scents are a bit earthier and may add to the odor rather than eliminate it; some people do enjoy their smells, though!
Choosing the Best Brand of Essential Oil
All of the diffusers on our list work best with high quality, pure essential oils. Lower quality brands may contain other ingredients you don’t want, such as pesticides. If you are choosing essential oils over chemical fresheners, you definitely don’t want to be breathing in toxic fumes from plants treated with pesticide. Low quality oils may also not be fully water soluble and will clog up any diffuser that uses a wick. Plus, when the oil just sits on top of the water in the diffuser, it doesn’t disperse into the air as it should, and therefore won’t scent the space effectively. Let’s look at the elements that all the best essential oil brands have in common.
A Minor Word of Caution
Like most things, essential oils are not for everyone. While they have a wide range of health benefits and a pleasant fragrance to boot, for some people they are not the best choice.
Allergies & medical conditions
People with allergies to botanicals may find themselves triggered by essential oils. Likewise, people with breathing issues will want to be careful about using essential oils. We recommend that if either of these things applies to you, check with your doctor first. Some oils may very well be good for you, but it’s important to know which ones before getting started.
High humidity locations
If you live in a region with very high humidity, that doesn’t mean you can’t use essential oils, but we don’t recommend using them in a diffuser that disperses water vapor. This is especially true in the car, as it is an enclosed space. Too much moisture in the car can cause mold to grow in crevices, vents, and hoses. It may also cause the vehicle’s upholstery to smell musty, and that’s the exact opposite of what you want to accomplish!
In a humid area, choose a pendant style diffuser that uses straight oil on felt pads. One exception to this suggestion is if you will be using the air conditioning enough to dry the air inside the car; in that case, using a water-based diffuser can keep your sinuses moist even with all that dry conditioned air circulating.
About mixing oils
We love mixing essential oils! You can come up with just the right blend that offers everything you need from the experience. However, it takes some trial and error to come up with a perfect combination. For oils you want to diffuse in the car, please do all of your experimenting on solid ground before taking them mobile.
For example, you may love the scent of lavender and want to use it as a car air freshener in combination with an oil that’s more invigorating. That is most likely just fine, but you don’t want to find out that the ratio of “sleepy” oils in your mixture is too high while you are behind the wheel. It can be helpful to keep notes on the ratio of oils that make up your recipes and the results you experienced. Then when you jump in the car, you will know exactly what to expect when you add 3 drops of this and 2 drops of that.
There’s no denying that cars can get stinky, fast. They are relatively small enclosed spaces that we use almost every day in all different states of personal freshness. A trip home from the gym, the pool, or with a wet dog in tow is pretty much all it takes. It’s not especially easy to steam clean the upholstery, either, so a good essential oil is a perfect solution. Not only do essential oils smell nice, they also have anti-bacterial properties that actually clean the air. Whether you choose a USB car essential oil diffuser or a powerless pendant style, you are bound to love the results.
So what are you waiting for? Pick your best car diffuser from our list, order a bunch of oils, and enjoy!