A short rant about car air fresheners

I had a long day yesterday. I delivered a Twitter workshop in Bristol in the morning and another in London in the evening. It was nearly 1am by the time I got back to the train station and found a taxi to take me home.

All I wanted at this point was to take a deep breath and relax, but of course you can’t physically do that in a taxi without throwing up your over-priced train sandwich into your own lap because of the stupid bloody ‘air fresheners’ that taxi drivers more than any other car owners insist on polluting their cabs with.

My taxi driver last night had broken away a little bit from the pack and gone with a white dove instead of a tree. In no way did instil any sense of peace or tranquillity in me.

car air freshener

They call them air fresheners, but actually they are anything but. Have you ever smelt anything less likely to make you sigh happily and think to yourself ‘Oooh, what a lovely fresh aroma, it’s like being on a beach next to a pile of freshly cut grass and a bread oven’?

I didn’t think so.

I tried breathing through my mouth but that was worse as I could actually taste the damn thing. If you don’t want to smell them you certainly don’t want the sensation of a so called magic tree being laid gently across your tongue. Breathing through your mouth you also have to worry about looking like a slack jawed puppy.

I went back to nose breathing. In less than a minute I was sneezing.

“Bless you,” said the taxi driver.

What I meant to then say – what I screeched in my head at least – was “don’t bless me you fool! Stop the car, rip down that ridiculous thing and bury it deep underground. Right now.”

“Thank you,” I said instead.

Is there anyone out there who isn’t physically sickened by these things? I’d like to know.

Like the ranting? You can read more of them here.




  1. Kat
    28 February, 2014 / 10:17 am

    OMG That is me!! I hate them sooo much. I think it’s because the smell actually reminds my brain of being little and getting carsick all the time, so now I associate it with feeling sick and voila. I have the same with fragranced baby wipes reminding me of poo. or is that just me….

    • admin
      28 February, 2014 / 10:47 am

      I know what you mean about the wipes Kat – you get a whiff and your body sort of braces itself for what it thinks is going to come next! Smell is such an evocative sense isn’t it?

  2. Emma Burnaby-Atkins
    28 February, 2014 / 10:33 am

    That we me last night – got into minicab for a 25 minute journey and was overpowered by its ‘ lemony freshness’ which made me feel that I was drowning in a vast vat of CIF kitchen cleaner (is it wrong that I still want to call it Jif? Possibly dates me!). Would I have preferred the driver’s BO or his fag breath? Maybe not, but, still…

    • admin
      28 February, 2014 / 10:46 am

      I still call it Jif Emma, but then I still say Opal Fruits too :-)

  3. 2 March, 2014 / 8:42 pm

    What you need to worry about is the alternative. I mean, put yourself in the taxi driver’s position. What is he being exposed to that makes those things preferable?

  4. Beeface
    2 March, 2014 / 9:03 pm

    the worst thing is in summer when the car is all warmed up and stuffy and the air freshener smells warm and its everywhere ergh I feel sick just thinking about it.

  5. 22 April, 2014 / 5:00 pm

    I totally agree with this! Those fresheners smell so fake and sickly and have yet to find one that smells of freshly cut grass or flowers! I like your blog as well – the layout and the different features of it. You have a good style of writing that is both light-hearted and engaging.


    • Jo Middleton
      23 April, 2014 / 6:40 am

      Thanks Emma :-D

  6. 15 December, 2014 / 12:40 pm

    Why are car ‘air fresheners’ even needed?! Surely, if your car smells that bad you could crack a window for some actual fresh air?!

  7. Helen Humphries
    14 April, 2015 / 9:27 pm

    I have major health problems and need to use taxis to get to medical appointments. Only I can’t because I react to air fresheners which now seem to be de rigeur in taxis. I am one of a patient population who has issues with them and it frustrating that friends & partner have to take time off to transport me.

  8. John
    8 August, 2016 / 8:06 am

    I use air freshener pots, they have an adjustable vent that allows you to keep the aroma under some control. None of them seem to have a pleasing smell, but it’s better than the fousty odour you’d otherwise end up with. I wonder if some roller follow the instructions with magic trees; you’re only supposed to expose a part of them at a time so they don’t become overpowering. That said; how many people actually read instructions?

  9. Toby
    13 October, 2016 / 10:35 am

    I’m totally with you – I particularly detest the vanilla scented ones – make me want to throw up! I once found an air freshener that was tolerable – think it was either apple or citrus scented, but other than that, cannot stand them!

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