If you need a bit of a boost, the best essential oil diffusers can really help. Fragrance can be a powerful stimulus; just think of how certain scents can immediately transport you back to key moments in your life. And now it's possible to indulge in a little aromatherapy in your very own home. Forget about incense sticks and horrible plug-ins; modern diffusers tend to use ultrasonic technology to generate fragrance without anything getting heated up or burned, and they're compact, stylish and portable too.
The right fragrance can have a huge impact on your mood, and considering that many of us are staying in more than usual right now, it's a great idea to give your home more of a calming and welcoming environment with the fitting fragrance. Oil diffusers turn your home into a makeshift spa, and can fill any room with soothing, energising or healing aromas, depending upon what you need.
An essential oil diffuser can help you switch from working from home in the day to relaxing in the evening, and on a more basic, practical level, it'll make your home smell a lot better too (for more soothing purchases, check out our guides to the best candles or the best massagers).
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According to numerous studies, essential oils can help to promote feelings of calm, relaxation and general wellbeing. The best oil diffusers are a great way to disperse these replenishing scents around your home with zero fuss or mess, and without adding any nasty toxins or particles into the air that could worsen your indoor air pollution.
A growing number of businesses have started to harness the science of scent to elevate their customers' experience. Several high-end hotels have started to use diffusers to disperse custom-blended scents in their lobbies and spas, while various cruise lines now use bespoke fragrances in public areas. Even destinations are getting in on the act – tourist boards representing several cities and regions, including York, have created their own custom-blended scents in the past.
Choosing the best oil diffuser for you
Most diffusers contain a small reservoir which you'll need to fill with water. You'll then add a few drops – usually between two and five – of essential oil, before turning the diffuser on (for a guide to 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.
And then 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.
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.
The best oil diffusers to buy now
Stoneglow is known for its beautiful candles, and its Modern Classics Perfume Mist Diffuser is its first foray into diffusers. This elegant, vase-like creation features four timer settings (ranging from 30 minutes to four hours), combined with an optional illumination setting allow it to be used in any room for any occasion. This mains-powered diffuser is also incredibly easy to operate – the ceramic lid simply twists off to reveal a 100ml reservoir, which is one of the largest we've seen in a diffuser of this size. Choose from four different neutral tones, to match your decor.
There's a fine line between looking functional and being just a little too over-ornate, and for us the Mercura Aroma diffuser from Made By Zen hits the sweet spot. It's housed in a mottled glass dome with an iridescent exterior, giving it the looks of a tasteful ornament, and with low energy LEDs it'll emit a soft, ambient glow when switched on. It's nice and compact, too; the only drawback of this is that it'll only run for about three hours before it needs topping up again, but if aesthetics are a deciding factor in your choice of diffuser, we reckon you'll be willing to put up with that inconvenience.
Here's another essential oil diffuser with striking looks. While most diffusers tend towards looking like candles or vases, this model from Urpower stands out with its square design, a choice of seven LED colours, and a quirky wood grain corner that matches the base; ideal if you need a diffuser to match a more modern décor.
There's plenty to recommend it beyond the design, too. It works as both a diffuser and a humidifier, and its 700ml capacity means that it can run for more than 20 hours in low mist mode (there's a high mist mode too). There's also an adjustable timer that'll let it run for one, three or six hours (or continuous use if you prefer), and it'll shut down automatically if the water runs out.
With this ultrasonic diffuser and humidifier from Equsupro, you get actually get two looks for the price of one. In daylight it looks like a lovely silvered vase, but switch it on in the evening and you get a cosmic-looking LED display in seven colour options. It's compact and portable with a 120ml water capacity that means it'll happily run from three to five hours, and its ultrasonic design means that it's whisper-quiet. There are three timer modes, from half an hour to three hours, and you can also use it as a night light with the diffuser switched off.
If turning your essential oil diffuser on by hand is just too much effort for you, here's one that you can activate by simply shouting at Alexa. The Maxcio Alexa WiFi Essential Oil Diffuser connects to your wireless network and is compatible with both Alexa and Google Home, and you can also control it from your phone with the Smart Life app, with full control over power, colour and brightness adjustment, mist modes and more. It features a 400ml water tank that'll keep it going for anything between six and 12 hours, and as well as standard timers you can set it to run between certain hours via the app. It's super-quiet, running at under 30db, and like most of the diffusers featured here it'll switch off if the water runs out.
Neom is famous for its candles, which means it's a trustworthy option for the best-smelling experience for your home too. As such, the stunning Neom Organics Wellbeing Pod Diffuser would make a perfect gift for those who have already bought into the brand. This diffuser delivers a long-lasting 12 hours of fragrance to fill your home with great scents within minutes, as well as having a light option too. With a distinctive design and glass casing, it's also one of the most stylish options on our list of the best oil diffusers.
The internet's a minefield of essential oil diffusers that look good on your screen, but when they turn up you find they're made of horrible plastic. Not this Homasy 500ml Essential Oil Diffuser; its fine-looking forest-themed exterior is an engineered metal shell, and its choice of 14 LED colours means it should blend in perfectly with any décor. As the name suggests it has an easy-fill 500ml tank that'll keep it pumping out the soothing aromas for up to 16 hours at a go, and at 23db it's one of the quietest diffusers we've seen. There's a choice of high and low mist modes, an adjustable timer as well as an always-on mode, and full control over the LED colours and brightness.
You don't need to spend a fortune to get one of the best oil diffusers for your home. This option from Homedics is a simple, rounded design that will fit in all kinds of spaces. You can use it solely as a humidifier if the air in your home is dry, but it works best when a few drops of essential oils are added bringing moisture and great fragrance to large spaces. It has a light, like many of the other diffusers on our list, but we like that this one can cycle through a number of different colours.
If you're looking for a diffuser that stands out from the crowd, this distinctive device from Ellia with a rounded ceramic design is for you. The Ellia Gather oil diffuser provides a full sensory experience for your home. It has quick scent-diffusing that lasts up to 10 hours, a colour-changing lamp and it includes a speaker too in order to play soothing sounds, including waves, as you relax. Unlike some of the other oil diffusers on the list, the Elia Father comes with two 2ml bottles of pure essential oils to get you started.
This is This Works' second travel diffuser, and its sleek, pebble-like shape will instantly appeal to those with a penchant for minimalism. The diffuser, which has a USB connection, is surprisingly quiet, dispersing scent quickly and efficiently from the second it's turned on. The best bit? It will continue to work (for up to four hours) when unplugged, too. The only downside is that it relies not on a water reservoir, but on refill pads, to which drops of oil are added. Only two are provided, and the accompanying instructions warn that these pads shouldn't be used with more than one scent of oil. However, replacements are relatively cheap – just £5 for three.
If you like the look of natural products in your home rather than anything too futuristic or minimal, then the best oil diffuser for you is this device from Innogear, which is made from bamboo. It offers four different diffusing settings to suit you and your home, including continuous mist, interval mist, a 2-hour mist timer or a 10hour mist timer. There’s also an auto-off mode if the device detects there isn’t enough water left to diffuse your oil. It’s not just one of the best oil diffusers for ensuring your home smells divine, but this device from Innogear also has seven colour-changing LED lights to create the perfect relaxing environment within your home.
If you have a large room that you want to ensure smells lovely all of the time, then you're going to need one of the larger capacity best oil diffusers to match, like this one from Tenswall. This unique-looking oil diffuser pushes out your favourite essential oil scents to big rooms of up to 40-square-metres. It also has a range of different timer settings depending on your needs, including 1-hour, 3-hours, 6-hours and continuous diffusing. It will last up to 10-hours so is a great option for big spaces that don’t need constant care and attention, like large living rooms, reception areas or even small businesses.