ask the strategist

Ask the Strategist: Where Can I Find a (Budget-Friendly) Closet Fragrance?

Photo: Retailers

In our advice column, Ask the Strategist, we take your most burning shopping questions and survey friends, call up experts, and draw on our own personal experience to answer them. As always, please email any online-shopping-related queries to strategist@nymag.com with the subject Ask the Strategist — we’re here to help.

Hello! I would love your recommendations on something that you can keep in your closet to keep your clothes smelling nice. I currently use this Diptyque scented oval, which is lovely and smells great and not overwhelming, but is so expensive. Thank you so much!

I’m a big candle and fragrance fanatic, but to be honest, I never fully understood the purpose of a closet (or drawer) fragrance. Do your clothes not stay fresh after they’re washed or dry-cleaned? Does a fragrance placed around your clothes actually rub off on them, giving them a scent? Or do you just like the smell while getting dressed in the morning? But professional organizer Mary Cornetta, founder and co-owner of Sort and Sweet, swears she can “notice a difference when someone does not use a freshener.” They apparently serve a practical purpose too. “They give me peace of mind that my favorite clothing is better protected and smelling nicer, which allows them to last longer, saving me money in the long run,” she explains.

You probably knew all of this, though, because you already use the one from Diptyque — which Cornetta agrees smells amazing and is extremely effective, but, yes, it’s pricey. Since she puts different closet fragrances in clients’ homes all the time, as well as in her own home, she’s tested quite a lot, including several budget-friendly ones that are just as good as the Diptyque one you’ve been using. And now that I’m a closet fragrance convert, I did some digging on my own to find some other affordable options. But one word of warning from Cornetta: Only use one per hanging section or drawer because “there’s no need to overdo it.”

Because most scents can be “overwhelming,” Cornetta recommends “a subtle scent like lavender,” which will keep your closet and drawers smelling fresh without overpowering your senses. These lavender-scented sachets will last up to four months each and come in packs of three, so you can add them to more than one place for about $2 a piece. The biggest downside is that they don’t have a loop to hang them up, like the ones from Diptyque do, so these are really best for sticking in between drawers or resting on shelves, rather than hanging in closets.

We’ve written about Mrs. Meyer’s products many times on the Strategist before. Its lavender scent actually is our best-rated drugstore candle, and its basil and lemon-verbena products come recommended to us by experts thanks to their gentle and ecofriendly ingredients, as well as pleasant scents. So we suspect these scent sachets, which come in different scents — like geranium, honeysuckle, lemon verbena, and even basil, in case you’re not into lavender — will smell just as good. Each $4 sachet will last up to 60 days before the scent wears thin.

These lavender-stuffed sachets are a bit pricier than the ones from Fresh Scents or Mrs. Meyer’s, but they’re still less expensive than the one from Diptyque, and they should last for two years, so in the end, you might actually save some money. They also are easy to hang in a closet, like the ones from Diptyque. Before you hang them, massage the sachet to get the lavender oil infused into the linen; that’s what makes them good to go for years to come.

And if you really dislike lavender, we can offer you these mint-scented pouches, also recommended by Cornetta. They supposedly neutralize odor and will work for 45 days.

For those who are also afraid of their clothes being ruined by moths, and hate the smell of traditional mothballs, Cornetta recommends these cedar blocks. These are lavender-scented, so you’ll get that “subtle scent” you want. And once you notice the lavender scent fading, just sand it down and the scent will return. These don’t have a hook, so you have to place these on a shelf or in a drawer.

These are very similar to the Container Store ones above — recommended by our expert, lavender-scented, odor neutralizer — but they’re thinner, so if space is an issue, these might work a little better for you.

And if you’d rather hang them up, here are some lavender-scented cedar block rings that go directly on your hangers. They’re even light enough to toss into a bag when you’re traveling or moving things into storage.

If you’re not sure whether you want lavender-scented cedar blocks in your drawers or your closet, you might be better off with these blocks from Home Depot, with screw-in hooks that are easy to remove or add back in.

These don’t actually have a fragrance to them, but hear us out: For those most concerned about keeping their shoes smelling fresh, these Jason Markk shoe inserts are a “newer option on the market,” according to Cornetta, and will neutralize any odors, keeping your shoes smelling fresher for longer. They eliminate allergens, bacteria, pollutants, and more from your beloved shoes. And while the brand doesn’t give an exact amount of days you’ll get out of these inserts, they can be “recharged 12 times.” Once the insert seems to stop working — meaning your shoes still smell — you place these in the sun for one hour, and they’ll be ready to go again.

And just in case, at the end of the day, you decide you really just want to splurge on the fancy closet fragrance from Diptyque, here it is.