The 9 Best Essential Oil Diffusers for Daily Aromatherapy
Whether you use them for their fragrance or potential health and skincare benefits, essential oils are best enjoyed using a diffuser. "A good diffuser is the quickest and easiest way to reap immediate benefits [of essential oils]," says Sahabat Amiler, organic soap maker and essential oil specialist.
When it comes to choosing the best diffuser for your needs, Amiler says that it really comes down to personal preference, style, and budget. We researched dozens of diffusers, evaluating them on type, runtime, capacity, and price. Our top pick, the Sierra Modern Home Smart Ultrasonic Diffuser & Humidifier, is a great all-around product at a reasonable price that has a long run time of 12 hours and can even be managed by your smart device.
See more of our top diffuser recommendations below and keep scrolling for answers to all your diffuser questions. And of course, be sure to talk to your doctor before using essential oils for any health-related reasons.
Our Top Picks
- Best Overall Diffuser: Sierra Modern Home Smart Ultrasonic Diffuser & Humidifier
- Best Budget Diffuser: Urpower Essential Oil Diffuser
- Best Splurge Diffuser: Vitruvi Stone Ultrasonic Diffuser
- Best Smart Diffuser: Donatello Smart Essential Oil Diffuser
- Best Diffuser for Large Rooms: GX·Diffuser Essential Oil Stand Diffuser
- Best Portable Diffuser: InnoGear Car Diffuser
- Best Design Diffuser: Jack & Rose Aromatherapy Diffuser
- Best Nebulizing Diffuser: ArOmis Nebulizing Aromatherapy Diffuser
- Best Diffuser Lamp: Pure Enrichment PureGlow Crystal Himalayan Salt Lamp Diffuser
Best Overall Diffuser: Sierra Modern Home Smart Ultrasonic Diffuser & Humidifier
Best Budget Diffuser: Urpower Essential Oil Diffuser
Best Splurge Diffuser: Vitruvi Stone Ultrasonic Diffuser
Best Smart Diffuser: Donatello Smart Essential Oil Diffuser
Best Diffuser for Large Rooms: GX·Diffuser Essential Oil Stand Diffuser
Best Portable Diffuser: InnoGear Car Diffuser
Best Design Diffuser: Jack & Rose Aromatherapy Diffuser
Best Nebulizing Diffuser: ArOmis Nebulizing Aromatherapy Diffuser
Best Diffuser Lamp: Pure Enrichment PureGlow Crystal Himalayan Salt Lamp Diffuser
Our top diffuser recommendation is the 2-in-1 Sierra Modern Home Smart Ultrasonic Diffuser & Humidifier, which can be voice-controlled or operated by a phone or tablet. It has an impressively long runtime of 12 hours, looks great with its faux wood design and light, and is reasonably priced.
How to Shop for Diffusers Like a Pro
In addition to essential oil diffuser combos, i.e., lamp/diffuser, humidifier/diffuser, there are four main types of diffusers. These differ based on the way that they disperse the essential oils into the air.
- Ultrasonic: These types of diffusers use ultrasonic vibration to create microscopic oil particles that are dispersed into the air. Since no heat is used, the oils last longer, smell stronger, and have no chance of burning. These are not advised for already humid rooms as the water mist will only add to the humidity problem.
- Nebulizing: Though nebulizers usually have a bit of a learning curve, they are popular with many aromatherapy enthusiasts as no water is required and the stream emitted from them is comprised of pure essential oils. To create the fine mist, this machine uses a high velocity, pressurized air stream that is released through a jet nozzle.
- Heat: With heat elements that evaporate the oils and release them into the air, heat diffusers should be used with caution and on low settings as they could end up burning the oils. Some heat diffusing units use a mix of oil and water, but others just take the oil straight. These models are typically economical but, judging from the lack of good heat-operated diffusers on the market and the plethora of ultrasonic technology units, they are starting to be phased out and replaced with their ultrasonic counterparts.
- Evaporative: These diffusers work by placing the essential oils on an absorbent pad in front of a fan in order to get the scent around. Like heat diffusers, evaporative models tend to be affordable and quiet, but they have, for the most part, been replaced with safer and more advanced ultrasonic options.
Tank Size and Runtime
The tank of an ultrasonic, heat, or evaporative essential oil diffuser is the container that holds the water. Nebulizers do not need water to operate and therefore have no tank. The tank size is only relevant in relation to how long the machine can run without having to be refilled. A smaller tank's water contents will evaporate quicker than a large capacity one; however, this is also a matter of whether it's on a high or low setting. The tank size also does not determine how much area a diffuser can cover—this is instead dependent on the diffuser's power.
Diffusers come in several different materials, colors, and designs. The most common material for a diffuser is plastic (most are BPA-free), and these also tend to be the most economical options on the market. However, ceramic, marble, rattan, and glass diffusers are also available. Some models feature funky lighting with adjustable settings, and/or interesting shapes and stylish exteriors designed to be displayed. Most diffusers are discrete and small in size (up to around eight inches in height) and made to sit on a shelf or a table, but much larger freestanding or table-style diffusers with legs are also available. These are usually best for larger spaces and are typically more expensive.
Questions You Might Ask
What are the benefits of a diffuser?
A diffuser is the best way to enjoy the benefits of essential oils. Aside from making your home smell nice, oils can be used for certain purposes—for example, lavender oil can help relieve stress and insomnia. Most diffusers also act as lamps (with multiple color options and brightness settings) that provide a relaxing atmosphere for better sleep or everyday relaxation.
How much benefit you can get from an essential oil diffuser also depends on the quality of the essential oils, according to Amiler. "Make sure you buy 100 percent essential oils and not synthetic oils or perfume mixtures," she says. "Though there are many cheap options on the market, it's worth spending that little bit extra on pure and organic oils that will provide maximum benefit."
How do you clean essential oil diffusers?
To ensure you keep your essential oil diffuser in tip-top shape after every use, there are a few simple steps you can take to clean it about once a month. To start cleaning an essential oil diffuser, be sure it is unplugged, and fill it halfway to the water mark with a mix of water and 10 drops of pure white vinegar. Then run the diffuser for about five minutes for the liquid mixture to clean within the diffuser. When it's finished, drain it completely, and touch up any corners or hard-to-reach spots with a cotton swab dipped in white vinegar. Some diffusers come with their own specific cleaning instructions so always be sure to read the manual.
Are essential oil diffusers safe to use around kids and pets?
While you should always be cautious when diffusing oils around pets and children, some essential oils should be outright avoided. When it comes to children, you shouldn't diffuse essential oils at all around infants under six months old, and you should not use Idaho tansy, hyssop, sage, wintergreen, camphor, eucalyptus, and peppermint around kids under 30 months old. If you do use essential oils with kids in the house, an ultrasonic diffuser is the best type, and should be used for a maximum of 60 minutes at a time with at least 60-minute intervals between uses. Remember to always talk to your doctor before you use any essential oils around your children.
Take Our Word for It
This article was written by Kat de Naoum, who has over 10 years of commerce writing experience. Kat is also the Commerce Editor-at-Large at Thomas-Xometry, the leading US online platform for supplier discovery and product sourcing. For this article, Kat spent hours researching and testing diffusers, spoke to Sahabat Amiler, organic soap maker and essential oil specialist, and researched and considered factors such as each diffuser's size, material, style, diffusing technology, and price.