The once-humble oil diffuser, which has been credited with aiding relaxation, now has myriad colors, materials, and technological upgrades to consider, such as remote controls, Bluetooth speakers, and USB compatibility. But when selecting a diffuser, there really is only one must-have. “A lot of people buy a diffuser for the simple reason that they want their environment to smell good,” said Lynnette Crouse, a certified aromatherapist for Nature’s Gift, a woman-owned aromatherapy company in Madison, Tennessee.
We researched diffusers from several brands to find the best for a variety of personal preferences, paying close attention to ease of use, the area covered, the noise level, and more—with price points that cover the thrifty to the extravagant. Our top pick is the versatile Move Diffuser from Vitruvi. The diffuser looks gorgeous on any nightstand or bookshelf, covers about 500 square feet, and is lightweight enough to bring on the go.
Vitruvi Move Diffuser
Sleek, contemporary design
Charges with USB cord only
If you want one of the best-looking untethered diffusers, the Vitruvi Move is our recommendation. Vitruvi has a stellar reputation for producing a reliable product that’s backed by a lifetime warranty, which makes it a favorite among boutiques, as well as chic department stores. The color choices are fun and can match your vibe: traditional (black, white) or look-at-me (Gold! Candy! Citron!).
Similar to its less-costly Vetruvi Stone cousin, the Move is made to scent a space of about 500 square feet, about the size of a two-car garage; that’s the kind of coverage you don’t get from most devices of similar size. Because it’s portable, you can use the diffuser beyond your home. The cylindrical shape makes it ideal to carry in a vehicle’s beverage holder.
We love that the modern-looking diffuser feels lightweight and easy to transport back and forth to the sink to fill up. It's also super-quiet, so you can use the timer settings to enjoy the beautiful scent all through the night without worrying about waking up. The ring of light adds to the diffuser's stylish design for a two-in-one product that looks just as great as it functions.
One of the downsides of Vitruvi diffusers is that they require charging with a cord that may take away from the product's stylish look, but we still love the portability, quiet design, and diffusing power of this pick.
Price at time of publish: $179
Material: Matte metal, BPA-free plastic | Size: About 3 x 7.4 inches | Capacity: 65 ml | Power: USB-C power cord and charging plate (additional kits sold for $20) | Intermittent setting: Yes | Automatic shutoff: Yes | Optional lighting: Yes
Innogear 100 ml Aromatherapy Diffuser
At least five colors
Side-streaming, for better aim
Mode indicator light
Standard plug restricts location
Noise can be annoying
If you're on a budget, we recommend the aromatherapy diffuser from Innogear. Because the stream diffuses from the side of the lid rather than its center, you can aim the stream toward you, which is especially helpful at night, if you want to better direct the scent across your pillow.
While the diffuser wouldn’t be classified as portable, it is lightweight and easy to move around; we’ve transported it from the bedroom to the bathroom in lieu of candles or air fresheners when we have guests. For less than $20, you get a choice of colored lights, exterior design (plain, faux wood grain, or “white grey”), and confidence that the machine holds up despite typical household chaos.
Price at time of publish: $19
Material: Plastic | Size: About 6 x 4 inches | Capacity: 100 ml | Power: AC power adapter | Intermittent setting: Yes | Automatic shutoff: Yes | Optional lighting: Yes
Pura Smart Fragrance Diffuser
Controlled through your phone
Holds two scents at once
Takes up minimal space
Lower capacity than other picks
Enjoy all the perks of an essential oil diffuser completely hands-free with Pura's smart fragrance device. Control the scent intensity, create schedules, swap between scents, and more all through your smartphone with the Pura app. The sleek, small device plugs into the wall, so it won't take up any space on your nightstand or coffee table, but it still fills up to 1,000 square feet with a beautiful fragrance.
Pura constantly partners with notable fragrance brands, so you can shop your favorite scents from Apotheke, Nest, and more. This starter device comes with two fan-favorite scents: lavender and yuzu citron. Both scents fit in the device and you can switch between the two depending on your mood.
We also love that the device doubles as a night light. Choose the color that best matches your ambiance with the color wheel in the app and watch your Pura come to life. Add more fragrances to your collection for a completely new scent experience every time.
Price at time of publish: $45
Material: Plastic | Size: 1.71 x 3.88 x 3.88 inches | Capacity: 20 ml | Power: Plug-in | Intermittent setting: Yes | Automatic shut off: Yes | Optional lighting: Yes
Best for Large Rooms
Exqline Aroma Essential Oil Diffuser
Doubles as a humidifier
Not as stylish as other options
If you want to scent a large space, look to the Exqline oil diffuser from Amazon. The large-capacity diffuser holds half a gallon of water, so it can run for up to 20 hours after one fill so that you can avoid annoying trips to the sink. The scent of your favorite essential oils will reach 450 square feet, while this option also acts as a humidifier for up to 325 square feet. You can use the knob on top of the diffuser to set the humidity level, but you won't have to worry about noise like you would with other picks.
While it's not the most visually attractive, the light feature adds to its appeal. Choose between a bright and dim option depending on your mood. It also comes in a wood-grain design for a more rustic feel.
Price at time of publish: $40
Material: Plastic | Size: 5.7 x 5.7 x 9.5 inches | Capacity: 0.5 gallons | Power: Plug-in | Intermittent setting: Yes | Automatic shut off: Yes | Optional lighting: Yes
SOICARE USB Aroma Diffuser
On/off button on housing and cord
Fits in most car drink holders
Available in several colors
Snap-in USB cord storage
No intermittent settings
USB cord is hardwired
If price is a major consideration when purchasing a diffuser, be prepared to sacrifice with the otherwise capable SOICARE USB Aroma Diffuser, particularly its lack of intermittent settings. But you still get the convenience of taking your diffuser wherever you can insert a USB plug. Be careful with that cord, because unlike most USB-operated diffusers, it is permanently attached. Luckily, a snap-in storage area underneath the diffuser body can protect the plug.
With most diffusers, you have to avoid tipping over the body while there’s still water in it, because getting the motor wet can ruin the device. With portable diffusers, that can be difficult to remember when you’re on the go, as tipping is a natural thing to do when you try to store the USB plug.
Price at time of publish: $35
Material: Plastic | Size: About 3 x 5 x 3 inches | Capacity: 60 ml | Power: USB power cord | Intermittent setting: No | Automatic shutoff: Yes | Optional lighting: Yes
Best With Light
ASAKUKI Essential Oil Diffuser with Remote Control
Colors galore in bright, dim modes
Lots of gadgets, plus remote
Extra longevity as night light
Not daytime attractive
Traditional power cord
Where the ASAKUKI 500 ml literally shines is in having more light options than most of its competitors, plus fun gadgets, so you can easily play with all the colors. While most comparable diffusers have seven light options, this ASAKUKI technically has double that, because you can choose bright or dim modes. You can also leave the device on auto so it will cycle through the rainbow of colors.
The ASAKUKI’s white plastic exterior isn’t a showpiece, but you can opt for various faux wood grain bases; the white option is the most low-key if a more traditional wood grain doesn’t match your decor. On the downside, this lacks a USB cord, but if loads of light options are your thing, go big for your home.
Price at time of publish: $37
Material: Plastic | Size: Roughly 6 x 6 x 5 inches | Capacity: 500 ml | Power: AC power adapter | Intermittent setting: Yes | Automatic shutoff: Yes | Optional lighting: Yes
Opalhouse 300ml Cutout Ceramic Color-Changing Oil Diffuser
Ceramic cover hides plastic cover
Classic design with broad appeal
Difficult-to-see fill line
Choosing a ceramic diffuser, including this Opalhouse Cut-Out Ceramic, is tricky because of the potential for breakage: Every time you fill the diffuser, you have to remove a fragile cover. Target’s Opalhouse ceramic diffuser is substantial for the $30 price, and the white, classic eyelet design has broad appeal.
When choosing a ceramic diffuser, you also have to consider that most ceramic covers are decorative and hide plastic, funnel-shaped covers inside that route the mist through holes at the tops of the diffusers. (We eliminated any diffusers where the ceramic and plastic covers didn’t align correctly.) Being able to examine your diffuser in person before you commit is helpful in ferreting out these design flaws, such as plastic covers inelegantly poking through the ceramic spout.
One attribute that puts Opalhouse ahead of its competitors is the slick finish on the exterior. Some ceramic diffusers are easily scratched by fingernails, which is not ideal, since you have to handle the covers every time you want to refill the diffuser.
Finally, the Opalhouse has a surprisingly large capacity (300 ml) for its size and optional colored lights that look lovely through the cutouts.
Price at time of publish: $30
Material: Ceramic, plastic | Size: 6.64 x 5.25 x 5.25 inches | Capacity: 300 ml | Power: AC power adapter | Intermittent setting: Yes | Automatic shut off: Yes | Optional lighting: Yes
The Vitruvi Move Diffuser is our top recommendation, because it is one of the few diffusers that combine style, essential functions, and some fun add-ons. If you prefer function over form and don’t mind a more utilitarian look, the Innogear 100 ml Aromatherapy Diffuser is a great value. Teens and kids may especially like the lights, and you may appreciate the durability and price point.
What to Look for in an Oil Diffuser
There are two main types of oil diffusers: ultrasonic and nebulizing. Both versions create a fine mist, but they work a bit differently. Ultrasonic models—the cheaper options—create vibrations that break the essential oils down and distribute the individual molecules into the air. Nebulizing models, like the Pura smart diffuser, distribute more potent, undiluted essential oils into the room by using pressurized air.
Capacity and Time
Ultrasonic models require a mixture of water and essential oils, which allows them to run longer—approximately 30 to 60 minutes at a time. Our top pick, the Vitruvi Move Diffuser, can run up to eight hours with the included timer. Since nebulizing models use only essential oil, they should be run for shorter periods (about 10 minutes at a time).
Both types of models benefit from regular cleaning, but ultrasonic essential oil diffusers are harder to clean, since they use both water and essential oils. Water makes the machine more susceptible to mold, and tap water can leave calcium deposits inside the machine
Is an oil diffuser right for you?
Before you bring an oil diffuser into your space or anyone else’s, think about what you want the diffuser to do for you. Aromatherapist Lynnette Crouse, of Nature’s Gift in Madison, Tennessee, calls this “intentional diffusing.” Hannah Krause, the owner of Eden, an apothecary in Des Moines, regularly uses diffusers to create a mood in her home and business. “I think it’s a nice way to set the scene and set the tone in your home,” she says. “It’s just a small thing in our world that we have control over.”
Essential oils are complex, concentrated plant extracts that contain “hundreds of different chemical compounds that work differently in the human body,” according to Rae Ann Kingsley, a pediatric nurse practitioner who specializes in pain management at Children’s Mercy Kansas City Hospital. They are not regulated by the FDA, should never replace standard medical care, and shouldn’t be used around children younger than 6 years old.
Where can I check out oil diffusers?
We recommend looking over a prospective oil diffuser purchase before buying. They’re relatively easy to find at big-box stores, such as Target, Walmart, and Bed, Bath & Beyond. Discount stores, such as TJ Maxx, sell inexpensive, themed diffusers (think seasonal diffusers like those for Halloween and Christmas), as well as popular brands such as Brookstone, Sharper Image, and Tommy Bahama. You can also find upscale brands, such as Vitruvi, at locally owned boutiques and home and department stores.
Why Trust The Spruce?
This article was written by Laurie Mansfield Reiter, a journalist with years of experience in researching, testing and recommending home and garden products. In preparation for this article, she consulted Lynnette Crouse, a certified aromatherapist for Nature’s Gift, a woman-owned aromatherapy company in Madison, Tennessee, and Rae Ann Kingsley, a pediatric nurse practitioner who specializes in pain management at Children’s Mercy Kansas City Hospital. To find the best options for oil diffusers, Reiter, who has personally used essential oil diffusers in her home since 2018, evaluated hundreds of products from online retailers, discount stores, boutiques, home furnishings stores, pharmacies, and big-box stores.