The Best Essential Oil Diffusers, Tested by HGTV Editors
Our team of experts tested essential oil diffusers to find our favorites. Read on for our top picks and why we recommend them.
Our Top Diffuser Picks:
Diffusers are most often used with pure essential oils to bring aromatherapy benefits to a small space, such as a living room or bedroom. In fact, according to the Mayo Clinic, aromatherapy can help improve sleep and mood, among other touted benefits like relaxation, increased energy and enhanced concentration. There are thousands of diffusers on the market, but the most common and affordable type of diffuser is ultrasonic.
Ultrasonic diffusers work by using vibrations to turn water molecules and the essential oil into a fine, cool mist. This improves the diffusion process and preserves the therapeutic benefits since the essential oils aren't heated or diluted by steam. In contrast, nebulizing diffusers turn the oil directly into a mist without heat or water, creating a stronger scent. Nebulizers typically come at a much higher price point than their ultrasonic counterparts. Because of the availability, features and price, ultrasonic models are our top pick.
There are a few things to consider when buying an ultrasonic diffuser, from tank size to misting modes. Let's start with tank size; tanks can range from 100ml up to 500ml. Larger tanks can fill a larger space with scent and can last longer before the water needs to be replaced. Smaller tanks, while needing a frequent refill, can satisfy a small room and are ideal for portability. Whether a diffuser offers intermittent versus continuous misting is also important to consider. And luckily, most models do both. Intermittent mode releases mist in increments (usually 30-second spurts), so the diffuser can last longer without needing a water refill. Continuous mode, however, mists continuously without stopping, meaning the tank will run out of water more quickly.
There are other features that you may also want to consider when purchasing, like whether a model comes with LED lights, automatic shut-off and the ability to set a timer. We considered all of these as we made our choices. Read on for our top picks in four categories: Best Overall, Runner Up, Best With Large Tank and Best High-End Option.
BEST OVERALL PICK
When it comes to features, price and aesthetics, the InnoGear essential oil diffuser wins our best overall pick. It comes in two tank sizes — 200ml and 500ml — and two wood grain looks — yellow and dark. We tried out the 200ml model, and the tank size is perfect for most rooms and surfaces. We love the two adjustable misting modes; simply press and hold the button to switch between strong (one beep) and weak (two beeps) to extend the duration of misting for several hours. It comes with four timer setting modes and will automatically shut down when the water level is low. The diffuser features a light strip around its diameter that can cycle through seven color-changing mood lights — from teal to fuchsia — each adjustable between bright and dim. Plus, its super-quiet operation makes it a dream for bedrooms and nurseries, even if it continuously mists all night. The company recommends using therapeutic-grade essential oils to prolong the life of the diffuser, as diluted or chemical oils may clog or corrode the machine. We recommend cleaning the tank after using it five or six times. Simply unplug, drain the existing water and clean the interior with a soft, wet rag.
Our runner-up pick just so happens to be InnoGear’s smaller essential oil diffuser that also ranks high for its features and price tag. At less than $20, this 100ml ultrasonic diffuser is small in size (only 3.9 inches wide!) yet powerful in functionality. With similar features to its larger tank siblings, this model also comes with two misting modes, seven LED mood lights and automatic shut-off. It’s missing a timer option, which bumps it to second place on our list. The ease of portability, though, almost outweighs the lack of timer; its palm-sized frame makes it perfect to toss in your carry-on while on the go or to sit in the corner of your workspace.
BEST WITH LARGE TANK
What the ASAKUKI diffuser lacks in appearance, it more than makes up for in performance. The gigantic 500ml tank allows this diffuser to pump out a steady stream of mist nearly all day. There are quite a few performance options, too, ranging from a continuous aromatherapeutic mist with color-changing LED lights to a timed mist without lights. Choose between a 60-minute, 120-minute or 180-minute timer, or let it run continuously until the tank is empty. A gentle or high-powered misting function humidifies the air in tandem with the aromatherapy feature. We liked how quickly we could smell the essential oils and that the diffuser was powerful enough that the scents filled a large, open space. While there is a learning curve with this device — the “mist” button actually powers on the device and sets the timer, which is misleading — overall, it’s pretty user-friendly. Between the large tank and customizable features, this diffuser is a great value at less than $30.
BEST HIGH-END PICK
The Vitruvi stone diffuser is hands down the best-looking ultrasonic essential diffuser we've tried, and the sleek aesthetic is what sets it apart from other picks. Available in matte black, white, gray and terracotta, it features a ceramic stone cover that rests over the water reservoir and BPA-free plastic lid. Easy to operate, this diffuser comes with two settings. Clicking the power button once triggers a three-hour continuous mist, and hitting it twice selects a 7.5-hour intermittent mode. The noise level is very quiet, making it ideal for bedrooms, and this diffuser is easy to clean. The price point makes it the most expensive option we recommend, but we think it'd make a great gift or splurge-worthy buy for someone who values household items that complement their decor and would appreciate the whisper-quiet operation.
If you're on board with the lifestyle trend of ditching candles for essential oil diffusers, sit back, relax and breathe easy with these tried-and-true diffusers.