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8 best plug-in air fresheners for long-lasting scents to savour

From fruity aromas to options that oust pet odours, take your pick from these no-fuss home fragrances

Tamara Hinson
Monday 06 September 2021 15:30 BST
<p>Our favourites include budget buys and super-sleek designs for even the most stylish of homes  </p>

Our favourites include budget buys and super-sleek designs for even the most stylish of homes

Even the most expensive candles can leave a build-up of soot and grime on our ceilings and walls. And while reed diffusers might look great, they’re scarily easy to knock over (and trust us, fragrance oil is an absolute beast to remove from soft furnishings).

The solution? An electric air freshener to fill your home with subtle fragrance courtesy of scented oils.

Said smell is dispersed using either gentle heat or ultrasonic pulses (vibrations that break down essential oils added to water, before dispersing them into the air).

For this reason, we decided it’s high time to celebrate the power of plug-in aroma by taking a look at (or a sniff of) the best plug-in fragrance devices you can buy.

How we tested

We truly put all our plug-ins to the test, trialling them in rooms of different sizes and in areas where certain scents (such as food odours in areas near our kitchen) were stronger.

Simplicity was key – plug-in products which were tricky to operate simply didn’t make the cut, so you can rest assured that you’ll be able to operate all of these examples with your eyes closed. And, we can confirm that feelings of relaxation will happen sooner rather than later if you treat yourself to any of the below.

The best plug-in air fresheners for 2022 are:

  • Best overall – Made by Zen luminarie: £64, Madebyzen.com
  • Best night-time scent – Yankee Candle bronze starter kit and calm night: £15.99, Amazon.co.uk
  • Best for style – O by Olfacto obyo mini: £109, Obyolfacto.com
  • Best scent dispersal – Yankee Candle scentplug: £7.19, Candlesdirect.com
  • Best value – Air Wick life scents electric diffuser and refill: £4.65, Amazon.co.uk
  • Best for households with pets – Febreze 3volution plug-in refill pet odour elimination: £14, Amazon.co.uk
  • Best for a compact design – Glade electric scented oil plug-in: £4.25, Ocado.com
  • Best for customisable scent strength – Febreze cotton fresh plug in air freshener: £6.50, Ocado.com

Made by Zen luminarie

Made by Zen luminarie  indybest.jpeg

Best: Overall

Rating: 10/10

Say hello to one of the most stylish home fragrance devices we’ve come across – a geometric, sculpture-like scent genie that resembles a Chinese paper lantern. It’s incredibly minimalistic, and we mean that in a good way. The pretty metal cover slips over the reservoir (why don’t more diffuser manufacturers provide covers like this for the water tanks?) and the two small buttons on the base allowed us to scroll between two light and two mist settings (continuous or intermittent) with ease.

The thing we love most about this mains-powered diffuser is its versatility – with its latticed metal cover, it’s so pretty that we’d be happy simply using it as a desk lamp, although we also loved how we could also switch off the lights for a more subtle fragrance fix.

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Yankee Candle bronze starter kit and calm night

Yankee Candle bronze starter kit & calm night indybest.jpeg

Best: Night-time scent

Rating: 9/10

We’re rather excited about the latest innovation from Yankee Candle – a plug-in diffuser that doesn’t require any water. Simply lift off the lid and slot in the refill to enjoy 30 nights of sleep-inducing fragrance. The starter kit comes with a cartridge that offers a blissful blend of lavender (a scent which Yankee does incredibly well), eucalyptus and vanilla, and a timer so you can opt for two, four or eight hours of scent.

We loved the fact that this gizmo offered the best of both worlds – despite its large, long-lasting size, it’s surprisingly unobtrusive. We also loved the gadget’s sculptural design and wood-effect base.

  1. £15 from Amazon.co.uk
Prices may vary
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O by Olfacto obyo mini

O by Olfacto obyo mini indybest.jpeg

Best: For style

Rating: 9/10

All too often diffusers are enormous, chunky things, but not so with the obyo mini, which looks sleek and stylish – picture a beautiful bottle of perfume and you’re pretty much there, which is why we recommend this as a great gift. Unlike many diffusers, it’s powered by a USB cable rather than a mains one, although it can be used unplugged, too – the cable’s main purpose is to charge it.

The main piece of kit is the metal lid that fits onto the bottle of oil, and which has built-in controls, the fragrance dispersal port and the cable port. Despite its size – it’s just 90mm tall, all in – it will easily fill rooms of up to 35 sq m with a wonderful, natural fragrance, operating in three-hour cycles to provide just the right level of scent. It’s neither underwhelming nor overpowering, and the intensity can also be tweaked.

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Yankee Candle scentplug

yankee candle scentplug indybest plug in air freshener

Best: Scent dispersal

Rating: 8/10

Recently given a major makeover, the home fragrance brand’s plug-ins now have much sleeker exteriors – a textured piece of plastic now covers not just the entire refill but the controls too, which are tucked away at the back of the gadget.

In the original scentplugs, the control dial would occasionally become clogged with a build-up of fragrance oil. However, for this device, the sliding control is less likely to stick because it’s positioned slightly further away from the absorbent nib, which soaks up and releases the fragrance. While residue oil marks are inevitable, the design means they are hidden from sight, since the front covers both the hole through which fragrance escapes and the dial, now placed on the rear of the unit.

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Air Wick life scents electric diffuser and refill

Air Wick life scents electric diffuser & refill  indybest.jpeg

Best: Value

Rating: 8/10

Part of the reason we love Air Wick’s life scents electric diffuser is the fantastic range of fragrances – the fruity, juicy scents are perfect for a burst of summer-themed freshness, no matter what havoc the weather is wreaking. The cartridges are easy to insert (although you won’t need to change them that regularly – the blurb promises 100 days of fragrance and we weren’t disappointed) and the dial allows the scent strength to be tweaked by tiny increments.

  1. £4 from Amazon.co.uk
Prices may vary
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Febreze 3volution plug-in refill - pet odour elimination

Febreze 3Volution plug-in refill - pet odour elimination indybest.jpeg

Best: For households with pets

Rating: 9/10

In this case, the product combo we’re recommending is the Febreze 3Volution plug-in paired with the pet odour elimination refill, simply because it’s a brilliant plug-in, and one of the few air fresheners to come with scent cartridges that claim to target pet-related smells. And it actually works – without making your house smell like a science lab.

The refills provide a light, fresh fragrance that isn’t overpowering or harsh due to the use of the brand’s so-called “odourclear” technology to banish lingering pongs (such as eau de chien) and keep them at bay for up to 90 days. Do your worst, Fido.

  1. £14 from Amazon.co.uk
Prices may vary
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Glade electric scented oil plug-in

Glade electric scented oil plug-in indybest.jpeg

Best: For a compact design

Rating: 9/10

Glade’s plug-in might not be the most stylish way to fragrance your home – it’s chunkier than many of its competitors – but the advantage of this type of unit, which features vents on the top and a generous amount of space between the refill’s nib and the holes, is that the exterior is less likely to be stained with smudges of oil residue. These stains are particularly hard to miss when the colour range of the device extends to varying degrees of white.

We also appreciated the smooth turning scent-strength dial, which allowed us to finetune our fragrance preferences. Other plug-in dials often only allow users to clunkily switch between pre-set strengths and nowhere in between, but the slick movement of Glade’s controls allowed us to adjust the perfume power by tiny increments.

  1. £4 from Ocado.com
Prices may vary
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Febreze cotton fresh plug in air freshener

Febreze cotton fresh plug in air freshener indybest.jpeg

Best: For customisable scent strength

Rating: 7/10

This is proof that a decent plug-in air freshener shouldn’t cost the earth. Febreze’s compact model is easy to reload with cartridges, has ultra-clear markings on the side and more than enough space between the nib and the vents to prevent a build-up of fragrance oil that can clog the internal parts and lead to staining. Use this on setting two and you’ll get up to 80 days of fragrance.

  1. £6 from Ocado.com
Prices may vary
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The verdict: Plug-in air fresheners 

Made by Zen’s luminarie gets the gold medal for aroma excellence. It’s a diffuser that is wonderfully easy to use, has plenty of room for customisation and certainly stands out in the style stakes.

Yankee Candle’s bronze starter kit and calm night comes second, simply because of its brilliant design and ease of use. The lack of water also makes it a brilliant option for parents who might want to give restless children a helping hand when it comes to drifting off to the land of nod.

Finally, we’ve got to give a shout out to O by Olfacto’s gorgeous obyo mini – this is one of the few diffusers we’d give as a present, and its compact, sleek design means it won’t look out of place in the most stylish of homes.

If you want an eco-friendly way to fragrance your home, read our review of the best non-toxic candles you should buy now

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