Let's be honest here: there are few things in life worse than a stinky bathroom. Whether you are the perpetrator or the victim, it is unpleasant and embarrassing for everyone – which is why you need to keep a good air freshener in your bathroom at all times. With this usage in mind, we took a look at over 30 different air freshener products and compared them based on their formulas, delivery method (plug-in, spray, etc.), and overall customer satisfaction. With a unique natural oil blend made specifically for bathroom purposes, Poo-Pourri's Before-You-Go Toilet Spray has earned its reputation as the best bathroom air freshener of all. Article Summary
No one likes a stinky bathroom. It can be embarrassing for you to leave it that way and even worse if you have company over and someone else has to use the bathroom right after you. And that’s not even the worst part of all! The ugliest truth of the matter is that no matter how hard you try, this common phenomenon is completely inevitable. You can drink water all day long and eat the cleanest foods in the world, but at some point or another, you are bound to be the perpetrator (or should we say – poopetrator).
Luckily for you, there are endless options when it comes to air fresheners. Not only are there more scents than you can count on your hands and feet, but there are also several different styles from traditional sprays and plug-in devices to air purifying bags and essential oil concoctions. Some are designed for keeping continuous freshness in the room, whereas others are designed for fast-acting on-the-spot odor elimination.
Knowing that everyone has different freshener preferences, we wanted to find one product in each category that was perfect for the job. In other words, we wanted to find the best spray air freshener, the best plug-in air freshener, and the best air purifying bag – all with bathroom purposes in mind. We compared roughly 10 products of each style for a total of over 30 products considered, and we compared them based on their formula’s effectiveness. This involved looking at the formula itself, but also looking at hundreds of customer reviews of each freshener so we could see legitimate experiences of how well each product worked. After roughly 25 hours comparing details and reviews, the three products below are what stood out in each category.
The best spray air freshener
Among all the air freshener products we looked at, only one was branded as a bathroom-specific odor eliminator. While things like this are usually just marketing gimmicks, Poo-Pourrie’s Before-You-Go Toilet Spray is no false advertisement. This is a tried-and-true spray freshener which has earned a massive reputation and impressively loyal following thanks to their super-effective blend of natural compounds.
Unlike most spray fresheners which are designed for use after the scent is already in the air, Poo-Pourri is to be used before you do your dirty business. The formula contains no harsh chemicals, it is composed entirely of essential oils and other natural products that actually target and eliminate odor molecules as soon as they hit the air, rather than just trying to mask them with some overpowering scent. Each of Poo-Pourri’s scents are subtle yet effective, and there are over 15 to choose from so you should be able to find something that fits your interest nicely.
This product is so wildly popular due to the fact that it is subtle and on-demand. If you’re looking for a freshener that keeps your bathroom continuously smelling like roses through the entire day, this is not it. You’re better off using the next product in our guide, which is a plugin-in. Plug-in’s do a much better job at continuous scents. Poo-Pourri is designed for fast-action on-demand use, and at that, it works phenomenally. The company says each 2-ounce bottle will last for about 100 uses, so a tiny bottle goes a long way (with that said, there are also larger bottles if you prefer stocking up for the long-term).
If you prefer a spray for its quick effectiveness, Poo-Pourri Before-You-Go Toilet Spray is the best bathroom air freshener for you. Made in the USA and literally designed with bathroom freshness in mind, there isn’t another brand on the market that can say they’ve got you covered while you do your business quite like Poo-Pourri can.
The best plug-in air freshener
If you’re looking for something that will keep your bathroom fresh all day long, not just during your stinky visits, a plug-in air freshener is the most optimal style to use. When it comes to plug-in’s, there is no product out there that beats Air Wick’s Plug-In Scented Oils (keep in mind, if you choose this style, you will need to buy both the plug-in device and the oil inserts themselves – they are sold separately).
Air Wick is arguably the most popular air freshener brand out there, and customers love their wide variety of scents and functional devices. For bathroom usage, their Scented Oil Warmers offer unmatched freshness 24 hours a day, and each oil insert lasts for about 1-2 months before needing to be replaced (oil insert refills are relatively inexpensive, too, unlike other plug-in products).
The Scented Oil Warmers work like this: there is a small device that plugs into a regular wall outlet (this is the oil warmer), and this device holds oil inserts (small plastic containers of Air Wick’s essential oil formula). The oil inserts are then heated through the heating element contained in the warmer so that the oil can diffuse more easily and spread the scent throughout the room. There are roughly two dozen scents to choose from, and there are five adjustable fragrance settings (in other words, you can adjust the intensity of the scent according to your personal preference).
Like Poo-Pourri’s formula, Air Wick’s formula also contains essential oils which fight the odors rather than just trying to mask them. This is one of the main things we looked at when comparing product formulas since too many air fresheners just try to overpower stinky bathroom odors rather than actually eliminating the root of the issue. While we think Poo-Pourri’s formula is slightly more effective, Air Wick’s oils do a great job nonetheless and offer the added benefit of all-day freshness, for those who prefer it that way.
Air Wick’s Scented Oil Warmers are tough to beat if you want continuous 24-hour freshness in your bathroom. The formula easily get rid of bad stenches when you leave them, and the adjustable intensity is a cool touch that allows you to get the perfect amount of scent. Just remember, you’ll need to buy the plug-in device and the oil inserts separately.
The best air purifying bag
This is a peculiar product to most who are used to gel, spray, plug-in and more traditional styles of air freshener – but you can’t knock it ’til you try it. The Moso Natural Air Purifying Bag contains an unscented bamboo charcoal material that is specially designed to fight tough odors anywhere in life, and it works wonders in the bathroom.
It’s no secret that charcoal has a purifying effect, which is why you see it often used in water purifiers, but the moso bamboo charcoal used in this air purifying bag is extremely effective at removing scents and toxins from the air. It even goes a step further and removes allergens and prevents mold by absorbing excess moisture, which is one of the reasons the Moso bags were a top pick in our shoe deodorizer guide.
With the mention of charcoal, some people may worry about whether this material is safe to have around children or pets. The answer is a very confident yes. Both the bamboo charcoal and the material of the bag are non-toxic and chemical-free, meaning they are completely safe to be around anyone or anything. The ingredients are made from sustainable resources and are even recyclable, so after you have used the bags for a couple of years, just take them out into the garden, cut them open, and release the beneficial charcoal into the soil. This will help the plants in your garden absorb more nutrients and water.
While the Moso Natural Air Purifying Bag won’t fill the bathroom with the floral scent of a meadow, it will remove unpleasant scents with ease and keep your bathroom visitors happy, which is really the main concern in trying to find the best bathroom air freshener.
How we picked our top three
We could have picked the air fresheners that had the longest scent names (like some people do); however, we took the sensible approach and based our decisions on more important details like effectiveness, scent, and a few other key criteria. We’ve explained our decision process below to show you exactly how we came to choose our top three.
The scent possibilities aren’t where the variation with air fresheners ends. There are also four main styles of air fresheners: plug-in, spray, potpourri, and gel. Generally speaking, plug-in devices are the most consistent at keeping scents bold and fresh throughout the day, whereas potpourri and gel does the same but at a slightly lower intensity (therefore sometimes being less effective at bathroom usage depending on how bad your post-toilet stench is). On the other hand, sprays are normally just good for on-demand usage, but not the solution for continuous scent. Knowing that everyone has different preferences, we narrowed the styles down to three main categories (spray, plug-in, and potpourri/gel) and compared products until we found the best bathroom air freshener in each category. Air Wick dominates the plug-in market, whereas Poo-Pourri is the most reputable spray and Moso bags are the preferred potpourri-style product.
If you’re deathly allergic to freshly cut grass and cattails, you’ll likely not want air fresheners that smell like either one (and certainly not a combination of the two). There are as many scents of air freshener as you could possibly imagine, but just because you’re a fan of gingerbread doesn’t mean you want to smell that every morning when you’re brushing your teeth. Finding a light scent that is refreshing and comforting will make a great difference in your day, but choosing a scent that is too bold or too sweet can give you a headache and grow tiresome very quickly. With that said, we chose the fresheners in our guide based on their variety of scents and also their strength. We wanted products that offered a lot of scents to give you personalized options, and we also wanted strengths that weren’t over-the-top or at least gave you the ability to adjust them to your liking.
The most important factor of all is effectiveness, and to judge this quality, we turned to customer reviews. After all, it would be foolish not to take into account the opinion of consumers who have actually purchased these products and had to live with them day to day. We realize that there is going to be a bit of variance in review quality for each product, but if an air freshener has a major percentage of reviews that primarily point to it being overwhelmingly strong, or barely noticeable, or not very effective, it’s pretty clear how well a product works. The products in our top three were all very well-received by consumers with the majority of experiences backing up their advertised effectiveness.
Things to consider before buying
Buying an air freshener isn’t the most difficult thing in the world, but there are a couple of quick questions to ask yourself before buying to ensure you choose something that won’t leave you with a headache every time you walk into the bathroom.
What kind of scents do you like?
Scent is a major component of any air freshener, since they are primarily designed to make your bathroom smell good. Instead of defining your favorite scents, it might behoove you to make a list of the scents you don’t like, whichever there are fewer of (to narrow your search criteria). You can be pretty vague with your list naming whole genres if you like or dislike anything in that genre – these genres can include basically everything, such as desserts, laundry scents, Christmas-y, and so on. Get creative with your list and try to be thorough so you don’t end up picking up a scent that you forgot you hated.
Do you prefer bold or subtle?
After deciding whether you want springtime lilac or cinnamon and allspice, you’ll need to decide the strength of the scent. Luckily, with some of the plug-in air fresheners, you can adjust the strength via a dial. With others, you aren’t so lucky, and you’ll have to simply purchase the air freshener that is the right strength for you. This all depends on your and your family’s sense of smell and preferences. Some people prefer a light and subtle fragrance while others want the scent on full-blast as soon as they walk in the door.
Do you want all-day scent or freshness on demand?
Okay, so you want a strong floral scent in your bathroom – perfect. However, this question remains: do you want that strong scent all day, or simply on command? There are many folks out there who like strong scents but they buy sprays which quickly fade instead of something more suitable like a plug-in freshener. Determining how often you want that scent to be around is going to help a lot in determining which type of air freshener you need, and whether this type is automatic or manually operated.
Additional benefits of using certain scents
Besides the obvious benefit of having a better smelling bathroom, using an air freshener can completely change your attitude when you are getting ready and freshening up. Scents have been studied for many years, as well as their effect on our neurological activity and emotions. Here are a few common scents and their positive effects. These scents will be worth taking note of, as these have been proven through testing to be associated with the remedies of certain maladies.
Citrus is included in many tropical scents, but their standalone forms have been associated with decreases in stress, anxiety, and depression among many people. There are actually many scents that are associated with decreased depression, but citrus is among the strongest. The other scents with this effect include pine and freshly cut grass.
The scent of apples, believe it or not, is tied to the alleviation of migraines. Studies have shown that many people have a drastic decrease in headache attacks as a result of inhaling green apple scent. If you are a sufferer of frequent migraines, this isn’t some snake oil cure-all, but keeping a green apple scent in your home may be of benefit to you.
Cinnamon is a pleasant smell to most that is reminiscent of baked goods and delicious treats; however, it does have another effect: an increase in male libido. Male libido has been clinically shown to increase blood flow (you know in which parts) by about 40%. This is a pretty sharp increase, so having some cinnamon scents in the house could spice up more than your morning routine.
Lavender is commonly used in essential oils due to its many positive mood associations. However, one of the most studied effects of lavender is its effect on insomnia. Insomnia is a widespread condition that has a very negative impact on health and focus. Since lavender promotes sleep and relaxation it has shown to be helpful in dealing with this condition.
Peppermint has been shown to increase energy. If you don’t mind having the smell of peppermint around in something besides your toothpaste, it could be energizing to have peppermint present in your air freshener.
Wrapping it up
It’s easy to choose an air freshener, but choosing the right one for you is where the difficulty lies. Identify your needs by asking yourself the main questions that we outlined, define your type, scent, strength and whether you want your scent around all day or at the squeeze of a spray bottle’s handle. Once you’ve got that figured out, choosing one of the products in our guide should suit you well, but there are also plenty of other products in local stores or online that you can try too.