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Freshen Up Your Ride: The Scent of Success | Mullinax Ford FL Blog

Freshen Up Your Ride: The Scent of Success | Mullinax Ford FL Blog

Posted at Wed, Oct 4, 2023 9:00 AM

From Pee-ew to Pleasantly Perfumed: Making Scents of Vehicle Air Fresheners

No matter how immaculate we keep our vehicles (and we do … right?), sometimes they need a little therapy of the aroma variety.

The right air fresheners can enhance the ambiance in the cabin and provide a pleasant experience for drivers and passengers alike.

Vehicle owners have a whole fragrant world of air freshener options out there. But before we get into the details, let’s look at some bouquet pros and cons. 

First, the positives: air fresheners provide a pleasant scent that can waft away pet smells, the odeur of old French fries and the musty tang that sometimes develops during rainy or humid weather. 

Using a particular scent can become your signature, just like your favorite perfume, cologne or aftershave. Or you can easily change things up to suit your mood. Either way, most air fresheners are a simple, cost-effective way to achieve a pleasant atmosphere in your vehicle.

But… some people are sensitive to the chemicals used in many fragrances and suffer migraines, headaches, dizziness and other health problems as a result. Others have allergies that bring on sneezing, a runny nose and tightness in the chest. Even people without chemical sensitivities can find air fresheners unpleasant or overpowering.

So if you’re going to spice up the atmosphere inside your ride, here’s how to do it safely:

  • Read the product instructions and follow them closely.
  • If you use a diffuser or spray, make sure it stays upright and doesn’t spill. Wash your hands immediately if you touch any of the substance.
  • Keep the air freshener out of the reach of children and pets.
  • Quit using it if you notice any sensitivities or allergic reactions.
  • Don’t put air fresheners under the seat – there’s not enough air flow to move the aroma around the vehicle.
  • Don’t place them directly on interior surfaces and be careful with the ones intended for air vents. The oils can damage the trim around the vents or other plastics in the vehicle.
  • Do not – we repeat, DO NOT – ever hang an air freshener from your rearview mirror. They are a safety hazard and, in most states, illegal. Anything hanging from the rearview – air freshener, mask, parking placard – can earn you a ticket from a punctilious police officer. According to AAA, air fresheners – even small ones – can obstruct your field of vision, causing you to miss road signs, other vehicles and even pedestrians, and increase your risk of a crash.

OK, now we’re ready to look at the most common types of air fresheners:

  • Hanging air fresheners. Made of an absorbent material, often cardboard or an absorbent pad infused with scent, this is the oldest and most basic way to bring some fragrance into a vehicle. They are long-lasting, disposable and sometimes made of recycled materials.

Little Trees is the original and still world-wide best-selling air freshener of this variety. Royal Pine and True North, both woodsy scents that fit the brand’s tree-shaped product, and Black Ice, a masculine blend of citrus, wood and spice, are iconic aromas.

The company really did start out with inspiration from a tree. Here’s the back story: One day in 1952, a guy named Julius Samann, who lived in Watertown NY, up near the Canadian border and who had a background in perfumery and chemistry, was chatting with his milkman. The milk dude was complaining about how milk spilled in his truck, then spoiled and made the vehicle smell bad.

Samann, who had been studying the Canadian pine forests and experimenting with aromatic oils from the trees, worked up a woodsy combo that he applied to a type of blotter material.

It worked. The mailman’s truck smelled like a day in the forest instead of spilled milk and Samann realized his little tree idea could be turned into a successful business.

Other brands style their versions as cartoon characters, animals or other shapes. Hanging air fresheners also can be used in laundry rooms, bathrooms, garages and pet areas.

One reminder: wherever you put it in your vehicle, do not hang it from your review mirror.

  • Sprays. These are much like the room fresheners you use at home: an aerosol or pump that atomizes a fragrant liquid into the cabin of the vehicle.

They offer an immediate solution to smells you want to cover up. They also give you more control – they don’t put out a continuous scent like other types, allowing you to respray whenever you like to freshen up your vehicular atmosphere. 

  • Vent clips. These attach to vents in your dashboard or on a visor and release an aroma whenever the air is flowing. The oils in vent clips can affect the plastic trim around your vents.
  • Solid air fresheners. These are small cubes that slowly release a pleasant smell for a long time, often up to four weeks.

Other aroma-delivery options include:

  • Gels, which come in disk form and are designed to slide into a clip on your sun visor.
  • Beads, a bunch of squishy pearls in a round jar with a mesh lid that you can use until they dry up -- and then add some water and enjoy their fragrance a little longer.
  • Vent sticks, which are pretty self-explanatory.
  • Canisters, which are spill-proof and are made with scent-saturated biodegradable fiber pads inside. Just pop one in a cup holder and enjoy fragrance for as long as 60 days.

Air fresheners can make your car smell like lavender in Provence, your truck like a mountain glen or your SUV like you bought it last week. But what if you drive a luxury vehicle, something that satisfies you every whim? Even if you have detailers working overtime, you might want to augment their efforts with some eau de opulence.

Or, let’s face it, we can all be aspirational, right? 

High-end vehicle scents are part of a growing trend toward luxury accessories. Many come as diffusers, often in sleek black, though others are available in vent style. Scented oils, which tend toward sandalwood, leather, amber, bergamot and white tea, often need to be purchased separately.

If you’re shopping for sophisticated scents, check out products from Ceeniu, Aroma360, Car Cologne (a U.K brand), Rituals, Hotel Collection or Clemt.

The lingering takeaway, and how to prevent it —

Finally, no matter which air freshener you choose or how well it works, nothing beats keeping your vehicle clean. Here are some tips to help you promote a healthy, good-smelling interior environment:

  • Don’t eat in the vehicle
  • Don’t let trash pile up
  • Clean up spills ASAP
  • Don’t smoke in the vehicle
  • Don’t leave towels or gym clothes in the vehicle
  • Clean your air vents
  • Clean the mats and upholstery
  • Clean the air conditioning system by spraying a disinfectant into the air intake vents while the A/C is on
  • Drive with the windows open when you can

With a little olfactory assistance, you can keep your vehicle smelling great so everyone enjoys the ride.

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