Does Febreze Air Effects really give odors the boot?

When it comes to commercials that really grab your attention, one of most memorable ad campaigns is from Procter and Gamble, for its Febreze Air Effects air freshener. Consumer Reports wanted to see whether that product really lives up to its claims.

The Febreze ad shows "an experiment" using an old goat, a sweaty bodybuilder, and a day-old fish. A group of "real people" confirms that it all stinks. Then the room is treated with Febreze Air Effects and blindfolded people are brought in. They are asked to "take a deep breath and tell what it smells like."

Consumer Reports decided to do a sniff test of its own, calling on some brave volunteers. They were taken to a room where a cat litter box and sardines had been sitting for 4 hours. While blindfolded, the volunteers confirmed that the room smelled bad.

Then the room was sprayed with Febreze Air Effects. More blindfolded staffers were led into the room. Most thought it still smelled pretty bad. Although the spray concealed some of the odors, it didn't work as well as it did in the ad, and any effect was just temporary. So you still need to clean out the cat box, put your fish away, and take out the trash.

Consumer Reports also tested another Febreze spray, Air Effects Pet Odor Eliminator, to see whether it worked any better with the litter box smell. It did a bit better, but not by much, so you have to stay on top of that cleaning job!

Procter & Gamble response:

"Febreze was not a part of the Consumer Reports study and therefore cannot comment on their findings. Our Febreze "Experiment" ads are real - featuring real places, people and reactions. Our Research and Development organization worked extensively with the production agency to ensure that the experiments were truthful, a protocol was followed, and the products were used as designed. Our product technology not only eliminates odors, but freshens the air and we stand behind this claim." We will also be sharing "Behind the Scenes" videos from the experiments which will be added to our Facebook and YouTube pages later this week. These videos will irrefutably demonstrate that we used real people, in real situations and showed their real reactions. If there are any additional questions regarding these experiments, we are preparing a "how to" video and we will invite consumers to try these experiments for themselves."