Best essential oil diffuser 2023: soothing scents to improve your wellbeing

Find the best essential oil diffusers to deliver a soothing flow of therapeutic fragrance into your home

Best oil diffuser: Woman on sofa reading magazine, with Homedics Ellia Dream Ultrasonic Aromatherapy Aroma Diffuser on the table in front of her
(Image credit: Homedics)

With the best essential oil diffusers of 2023, you can change the entire feeling of your living space and completely transform your mood. The power of scent as a stimulus is well-documented, and the right choice of the best essential oils (opens in new tab) can help you feel calm and relaxed, or it can wake you up and help you feel focused.

While you might worry that essential oil diffusers could make the atmosphere worse in your home by heating oils and releasing toxins into the air, essential oil diffusers mostly work using ultrasonic technology to generate fragrance in a clean way with no fuss or mess. Some diffusers go further than merely releasing scents and throw light and sound into the mix for a thoroughly immersive healing effect.

If it's soothing scents you need, you're in the right place with our guide to the best essential oil diffusers. We've rounded up the very best options you can find on the market, so you're sure to find something that suits your needs, budget and brand of choice. If you want to know how to pick the perfect diffuser for you, scroll to the bottom of this guide.

If you're less bothered about scents and merely want to get some moisture into the air, our best humidifier guide can sort you out, while if it's less moisture you're after, look instead at our roundup of the best dehumidifiers. Otherwise, read on to discover our top picks for the best essential oil diffusers right now.

  • If you're set on improving your home's relaxation potential, take a look at our guides to the best massagers (opens in new tab) and the best massage chairs (opens in new tab)

Best essential oil diffuser ranking 2023

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 How do oil diffusers work?

Most diffusers contain a small reservoir which you'll need to fill with water. You'll then add a few drops of essential oil (the number will depend on the size of reservoir), before turning the diffuser on. For an idea of which scent to choose, explore our guide to the best essential oils

A fan will then turn the water (which contains the oil) into a mist, dispersing it throughout your home. However, some diffusers have a small pad instead of a reservoir. The essential oil is simply sprinkled onto this pad, before being dispersed by the fan. Diffusers powered by USBs, which are often designed to be portable, are most likely to have pads instead of reservoirs.

What scent should I use?

It's worth purchasing at least two different oils to start with – ideally a relaxing one, made with ingredients such as lavender, and an energising one containing livelier notes such as citrus or spice. Some of the most powerful scents include lavender, which has been proven to activate our brains' GABA receptors, which in turn inhibit anxiety-producing brain signals. 

For other options, there's lemon, grapefruit and orange – countless studies have shown that citrus scents can aid concentration by increasing our ability to focus. Jasmine is a great one, too – a recent study conducted by scientists at Germany's Ruhr University found that smelling jasmine enhanced the effects of the amino acids which decrease our 'fight or flight' responses, increasing a sense of calm. Essential oils can also help you sleep better when you're feeling ill – check out these 6 essential oils to beat the common cold (opens in new tab).

Finally, remember that you can use any brand of oil with any diffuser, but if you're using a diffuser which has a pad, rather than a reservoir, you'll need to change the pad whenever you change the scent.

Ruth Hamilton

Ruth is currently on secondment as Sleep Editor for Tom's Guide and TechRadar. The role is an extension of her work on T3, where she ran the site's Wellness channel, which includes sleep, relaxation, yoga and general wellbeing. She was also Outdoors editor, reviewing and writing about everything from camping gear and hiking boots to mountain bikes, drones and paddle boards. She has tested more mattresses than her small flat can handle, and has had to implement a one-in-one-out pillow policy, for fear of getting smothered in the night.


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