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It's an undeniable fact of life that at some point your home or car will get a bit...smelly. Whether you live with a pet, a kid (or several), or solo, you're going to deal with odors of all varieties—but you don't have to suffer through the stench. Nowadays there are tons of odor eliminators on the market, including sprays, gels, charcoal bags, and even heavy duty air purifiers, that'll get rid of smells caused by pets, smoke, sweat, food, and everything in between.
When you're shopping for an odor eliminator, be sure to consider the type of product you want, paying attention to ingredients, longevity, and the area you're trying to cover. Here, we rounded up the best odor eliminators on the market so you can get your space smelling fresh and clean.
Best Overall: MOSO NATURAL Air Purifying Bag
Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.5 x 6 inches | Weight: 7 ounces | Coverage Area: 90 square feet
Fragrance- and chemical-free
Easy to use
Only covers up to 90 square feet
The Moso Natural Air Purifying Bag is one of the most self-sustaining odor eliminating options you can buy without spending extra. The bag holds Moso bamboo charcoal which naturally absorbs odors, mold, mildew, and bacteria in small areas up to 90 square feet. Lasting up to a month, you can place the bag outside in the sun for an hour to reset its absorption capabilities, and you can continue to do this for about two years (then a new bag will have to be purchased).
These bags are great for small spaces like closets or even the car, and are wonderful for those who are sensitive to smells since there's no fragrance. Plus, they are free of formaldehyde and petroleum—which are known carcinogens—so you can feel safe knowing you aren't adding anything harmful to the household.
Best Gel: Fresh Wave Odor Removing Gel
Dimensions: 3.5 x 7.3 x 3.3 inches | Weight: 15 ounces | Coverage Area: 200 square feet
Works in any location
Often, odor neutralizers are filled with unpronounceable, unfamiliar ingredients—not so for Fresh Wave Gel. This product’s ingredients include pine needles, anise, and cedarwood, naturally fragrant and plant-based items with no synthetic perfumes or phthalates. The product both absorbs and neutralizes unpleasant scents (think: pet odor, cigarette smoke, trash, and so on).
If you're sensitive to scents, note that when you first open the container there’s a noticeable pine-like smell (although not an unpleasant or overpowering one), that dissipates with time. One 15-ounce jar should work for up to 60 days, so grab a couple at once to always have one or two in reserve.
"What’s great about the Fresh Wave Gel is you can place it and forget about it. Unlike other odor removers, which require you to wash or scrub things, this room-freshener requires no effort to use."—Camryn Rabideau, Product Tester
Best for Smoke: Zep Commercial Smoke Odor Eliminator
Dimensions: 11.06 x 5.71 x 2.68 inches | Weight: 2.57 pounds | Coverage Area: 200 square feet
Works in any location
Don't need to use a lot
Eliminates smoke odor in seconds
Scent can be overpowering
Smoke leaves behind a dank, unpleasant, and pervasive smell. This Zep spray is one of the best options to combat the odor of all types of smoke, including tobacco, cannabis, and burnt wood. While it does leave behind a nice fresh scent, those with sensitive noses may find it overpowering. Also take note that you don't need to spray a lot as you would with a typical air freshener. Instead, just a short sprays should get rid of the odor, and the smell of the product itself will dissipate within a few hours.
The Zep Commercial Smoke Odor Eliminator works well in cars, on carpets, in apartments, and anywhere else you need it. It does use chemicals, so it's probably not the best option for those with pets or small children.
Best Air Purifier: LEVOIT LV-H132 Compact True HEPA Air Purifier
Dimensions: 7.48 x 7.48 x 12.6 inches | Weight: 6.5 pounds | Coverage Area: 86 square feet
Includes a nightlight with brightness settings
No air quality indicator lights
This air purifier includes three filters: a pre-filter, a HEPA filter, and a carbon filter. Together, this trio snags smoke, mold, and other odors, as well as pet hair and dander, dust, and other allergens. The result: Fresh, purified air. The Levoit Air Purifier can handle small- and medium-sized rooms and has a night light (with two brightness settings).
It's not as obtrusive as other purifiers, and at the lowest level, the sound is not very noticeable or disruptive. The device will let you know when the filters need to be replaced (typically about twice a year).
"With modern white casing and blue indicator lights, the Levoit could easily be mistaken for a countertop voice assistant or speaker. Since it’s small, the purifier is also subtle and likely won’t draw attention no matter the room it’s placed in."—Suzie Dundas, Product Tester
Best for Pet Odor: Rocco & Roxie Supply Co Professional Strength Pet Stain & Odor Eliminator
Dimensions: 5 x 2 x 10 inches | Weight: 2 pounds | Coverage Area: 20 square feet
Doubles as a stain remover
Works on any surface
Approved by the Carpet and Rug Institute
Scent can be overpowering
You may love your pets, but their odors are not as adorable. This Rocco & Roxie product does double duty: not only does it remove unpleasant smells (like urine) but it also removes stains. Here’s how it works: natural enzymes are activated that then remove the organic matter from vomit, urine, or other pet mishaps. Importantly, the ingredients in the product are pet-safe, and the spray can be used on any surface, including carpets, litter boxes, and more.
"It deeply cleaned the stained area and left the carpet in even better condition than the surrounding area. After treatment, using a UV blacklight, there didn’t appear to be a stain spot on the backside of the carpet either." — Danielle Directo-Meston, Product Tester
Best for Cars: Ozium Smoke & Odors Eliminator Gel
Dimensions: 3.7 x 3.6 x 2.6 inches | Weight: 7.7 ounces | Coverage Area: 250 square feet
Comes in various sizes
Vented twist top controls the scent release
Not every size has a vented top
A car is a contained space, and if rolling down the windows doesn’t get rid of funky odors, most people turn to dangling air fresheners. But those really just cover up the scent without eliminating it. Ozium Gel, which is ideal for any small space, not just cars, has a “patented fragrance formula” that removes odors instead of simply covering them up.
The scent of the gel is fresh and clean, and it works wonders at ridding spaces of smells for up to 30 days—even pervasive, tough to eliminate ones such as cigarettes, pets, and dead rodents. Some sizes of this product come with a vented opening, while others do not have that option. The vented twist-top option is a particularly popular one as it allows control over the release of the scent.
Best for Bathrooms: Poo-Pourri Before-You-Go Toilet Spray
Dimensions: 2.5 x 1 x 6 inches | Weight: 0.96 ounces | Coverage Area: 40 square feet
Comes in various scents and sizes
Great for travel
Bottle doesn't last long
Everyone uses the bathroom, of course, but that doesn’t really mean you want to smell it—or have the next person to use the bathroom be aware of your activities. Unlike other bathroom air fresheners, you use Poo-Pourri before, not after, you use the restroom, spraying it into the toilet bowl. This traps the smell under the water’s surface so it can’t disperse into the air in the restroom. Poo-Pourri uses essential oils, not chemicals, and comes in a variety of scents including lavender vanilla and citrus.
Best for Laundry: Zero Odor Laundry Odor Eliminator Spray
Dimensions: 4 x 2 x 9 inches | Weight: 1 pounds
Removes odors from clothes and washing machine
Can be used with any detergent
Not suitable for dry clean clothes
Sweating during a workout can feel like a sign of success. But afterward, the odor left behind in leggings, sports bras, and other workout gear can be unpleasant. Adding a few squirts of Zero Odor to a load of laundry can help eliminate the odors that accompany gym clothes, mildewy towels, or pet blankets. As well as removing the stink from your clothing, Zero Odor also gets rid of any odor in your washing machine. It can be used with any detergent and is pet-safe.
Best Spray: Febreze Fabric Refresher Pet Odor Eliminator
Dimensions: 3.03 x 5 x 9.71 inches | Weight: 1.95 pounds
Comes in various scents and sizes
Easy to use
Can't spray on leather, suede, or silk
Sprays are particularly effective when it comes to musty odors, body odor, or anything else that lingers in the air or on fabric (couches, rugs, underarms of sweaters, and so on). Febreze is available in a variety of scents, none of which are overbearing. But this spray doesn’t just leave a scent behind—it also eliminates the odor thanks to cyclodextrins, or sugar molecules, which the American Chemical Society says “trap odor molecules so that they do not reach the scent receptors in your nose.”
Best for Shoes: Dr. Scholl's Odor X All Day Deodorant Powder
Dimensions: 9.6 x 6.7 x 7.5 inches | Weight: 6.25 ounces | Coverage Area: Full foot bed
Can also be used on your feet
Prevents odor from occurring
Can get messy
Shoes are a classic stink zone—sweaty feet and a contained space are a recipe for pungent odors. That’s where Dr. Scholl’s Odor X comes in: Sprinkle a bit of this powder inside your shoes, as well as directly on your feet, and it will absorb the moisture, preventing odor from occurring. As well as preventing stinky shoes, this powder also helps after the fact—add it inside of shoes that have a foot funk to them, and the powder will help it go away.
Applying the powder can get a bit messy, and if you place the powder directly in your shoes, then you can track it around the floor after you take your shoes off if you don’t also remove your socks.
The best overall odor eliminator is the Moso Natural Original Air Purifying Bag (view at Amazon). Each bag contains bamboo charcoal which naturally absorbs odors, mold, mildew, and bacteria in areas up to 90 square feet. We also love the Fresh Wave Odor Removing Gel (view at Amazon), which is naturally fragrant thanks to plant-based ingredients like pine and cedarwood.
What to Look for in an Odor Eliminator
Odor eliminators come in all sorts of shapes and sizes depending on the type of odor, how you want to use it, and the area you're trying to cover. Some of the most popular options are sprays, which are easy to use and, depending on which one you get, can either mask odors or eliminate them entirely. Other popular options include gels and bags that are left out in the area where odors accumulate, like bathrooms, cars, and laundry rooms. If you're willing to spend extra, an air purifier is another option—these machines can purify the air, remove allergens, and eliminate smells.
Ingredients vary by product, but you can find a good mix of both chemical and natural odor eliminators. Natural products use ingredients like activated charcoal, essential oils, and enzymes to absorb and/or mask odors, and are typically recommended for those with pets and small children. Be sure to check the label before buying, and if you want to avoid the confusion entirely, go for an air purifier.
Certain products like sprays and laundry odor eliminators are only meant for short-term use, while bags and gels can be left for weeks or even months before needing replaced. Air purifiers are another long-lasting option, although you'll need to change the filter every six months or so to ensure it's working at its best.
What is the difference between room fragrance and odor eliminators?
The main difference between room fragrances and odor eliminators is that room fragrance is only designed to mask odors while eliminators often contain ingredients that neutralize or wipe them out altogether. Look for odor eliminators that contain natural ingredients like activated charcoal that can absorb odors from the air. Some odor eliminators also contain enzymes that eradicate a smell at the source rather than simply covering it up.
How do odor eliminators work?
This will depend on what kind of odor eliminator you use. If you opt for one with natural ingredients like activated charcoal, it naturally absorbs the odor and bacteria around it. Other products, like Febreze, contain cyclodextrins that trap odors before reaching your nose. Essential oil is another popular ingredient used in odor eliminators and works similarly to cyclodextrins.
Do odor eliminators kill bacteria?
Although some odor eliminators contain ingredients that kill bacteria, others merely trap odors. If you want to be sure your odor eliminator or surface cleaner kills bacteria, look for cleaners with antimicrobial ingredients. In this case, you should double check the label of the product before using it to ensure that it can be used on your desired surfaces.
Why Trust The Spruce?
This article was researched and written by Madeleine Burry, a freelance writer who has covered a variety of home topics for The Spruce. To make this list, she considered each pick's type, scent, and effectiveness, as well as insight from product testers.