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I Tried Diptyque’s New Car Air Freshener in a Crappy Rental Car

Now you can take Baies with you everywhere.

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Photo: Diptyque

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If you’re the type who brings candles with you when you travel, the chances are high that it’s a Diptyque. This brand is an aspirational favorite among people who love candles, and it just released a new way for people to bring their favorite Diptyque scents with them: a car diffuser. If a Baies candle, a Glade Plug-In, and one of those hanging tree-shaped air fresheners somehow managed to co-mingle their DNA three ways, it would be this product.

Diptyque was inspired to make it because people were hacking the fragrance pods that came with an electric fragrance diffuser ($350) that the brand released in 2013. “The electric diffuser works with pods of encapsulated fragrant beads that release their scent as an air current passes through the pod,” Mary Wallace, Diptyque’s marketing manager, says in an email. “From the launch, clients were crazy for the super potent fragrant pods. People began using the pods alone in their car, placing them under the seats, tying them to the rear-view mirror, and even using paper clips to affix to vents. In response to this tremendous demand, we set to work to create a specific unit to house the pods safely and ensure the maximum fragrance could be released into the car while offering a control mechanism for regulating the potency.”

The car diffuser ($60) is not automated or electric. It’s a bit smaller than a deck of cards and attaches onto a car vent via a rubbery clip on the back. You open the diffuser and put in a scented bead pod ($38), then turn your car’s fan on, which helps to diffuse the fragrance. You can control the strength of the scent via a golden metal vent switch that you manually flip open or closed on the diffuser.

The pods, which are the same ones that are used in the electric diffusers, come in Diptyque’s most popular scents, including Ambre, Baies, Figuier, Roses, Fleur D’Oranger, Gingembre, and 34 Boulevard Saint Germain. They last three months if you leave them in the diffuser, or up to 18 months if you store them in the reusable ziplock pouch in between drive times.

I live in Manhattan and haven’t owned a car since 2001, but I really needed to try one of these. The brand sent me one to try and the opportunity presented itself when I had to get a Zipcar (a short-term rental car service) to drive my son to a friend’s house in the suburbs. Zipcars are not usually the most luxurious or cleanest modes of transportation, so it seemed like the perfect time to pop in some Baies. This one, a Honda Civic littered with Cheez-It crumbs, definitely needed some elevating. (You don’t need to be fancy for Diptyque. I have a Baies scented oval hanging in the bathroom over my cat’s litter box.)

It took a little fumbling, but I finally got the diffuser to stick firmly into the vent. I turned the fan on a low setting and opened the diffuser, and the car filled up pretty quickly with the scent. On the drive home, I turned the fan off and closed the diffuser vent, but I didn’t notice any decrease in the strength of the smell during the 40-minute drive. I’m not sure how much you can actually control the strength of the scent, but once I popped the pod out and put it back into its storage pouch, the smell definitely went away.

“Car scent is frankly a stale category. There is no differentiation or innovation in the market for scenting your car — only low-cost hanging trees or nauseating clip-in units. There is nothing currently on the market that is aesthetically comparable to even mid-priced vehicles, let alone the design of luxury cars,” says Wallace.

There’s no chance I’m going to own a luxury car any time soon, but I intend to throw the pouch and diffuser in my tote bag and stealthily plug it into the vent in the back seat of cabs during dire olfactory circumstances.

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