Best Essential Oil Diffusers for 2020

Last updated 05/12/2020 | |

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Here's a list of the best essential oil diffusers, which diffusers to avoid, and how to use your diffuser. Includes information on the best diffusers for large rooms, fun diffusers for kids, and more.

diffuser on wood table

Everybody loves a clean-smelling home, and most of us grew up using aerosol sprays, gels, or plug-ins to make sure everything smells fresh. What we didn't know then (but are learning now) is that many air fresheners use carcinogens, chemicals that can aggravate asthma, and affect reproductive development. Pretty awful, huh?

Independent lab testing of spray, gel, and plug-in air fresheners confirmed the presence of phthalates (hormone-disrupting chemicals that could be a health risk to babies and young children) in 85% of products tested—including those marked “all natural.” None of the products had these chemicals listed on their labels. (source)

cans of glade on shelf

“But wait!” you say. “The ingredient list on my air freshener bottle says, ‘Contains water, alcohol, odor eliminator derived from corn, fragrance.’ Why aren’t all those chemicals listed?”

For one single reason–they don’t have to be.

Under the Federal Hazardous Substances Act, manufacturers are not required to list all ingredients of household cleaners. This is ostensibly to protect their formulations—which is odd, because bread has all the ingredients listed and there’s no lack of healthy competition there...but I digress.

Thankfully, there is a safe, natural way to make sure your house or office smells great--without using lots of toxic chemicals. An essential oil diffuser is your best choice for safely freshening the air and providing health benefits.

diffuser and essential oils in kitchen

Why Diffuse Essential Oils?

Pure, high-quality essential oils contain no fillers, artificial ingredients, pesticides, or other contaminants. We have a diffuser in nearly every room of our home.

The kids like to diffuse Lavender at bedtime, and I use different blends around the house to boost our moods, improve our health, and reduce snoring (yes, really!).

boy refilling essential oil diffuser

Types of Essential Oil Diffusers

There are two main types of essential oil diffusers: ultrasonic and nebulizing. The primary difference is that ultrasonic diffusers use water, and nebulizing diffusers do not.

Ultrasonic diffusers agitate water and essential oils at millions of vibrations per second. This converts the water into a fine mist and converts the oil into micro-particles that are released into the air. The water and essential oil mist is so fine that if you hold your hand over the diffuser, your hand doesn’t get wet.

essential oil diffuser

Nebulizing diffusers pressurize air and draw oils through a special nozzle. This breaks the oils down into minute particles and disperses them into the air. These diffusers don't use water, but can use an entire bottle of oil quickly if diffuser settings are not correct.

essential oil diffuser

Here are some important pros and cons for each type of diffuser.

  Ultrasonic Nebulizing
Water Yes No
Cost Less expensive More expensive
Light Often included No
Oil Concentration Lower Higher
Cleaning Occasionally No
Sound Quiet Louder

Now that we've covered the basics of essential oil diffusers, let's talk about the winners!

We own and use all of these diffusers, and I'll explain why they're the best and how to use them. Happy diffusing!

Best Daily Use Diffuser 

GreenAir Spa Vapor 2.0 is an ultrasonic diffuser that covers 400 square feet with settings for 1, 2, or 3 hours and has auto shut-off. This is my favorite diffuser, for price and scent output.

To use the diffuser, fill it with tap water up to the indicated line. Add up to 5 drops of essential oil.

The SpaVapor has a power button and a light button, and the systems are independent. You can run the lights without the diffuser and vice-versa. It shuts off automatically when it runs out of water or when you push the power button.

essential oil diffuser and sunflowers

Best Decorative Diffuser

Willow Forest is an ultrasonic diffuser that covers up to 1,000 square feet and runs for up to 6 hours. It's available in black or white with color-changing lights.

To use the Willow Forest diffuser, fill it with tap water up to the indicated line. Add 5-6 drops of essential oil.

To turn the diffuser on, push the button on the front of the diffuser. Push once to turn the diffuser on with the colored lights; push again to diffuse without lights. Push a third time to turn the diffuser off. It shuts off automatically when unplugged or when it runs out of water.

The Willow Forest diffuser is great for large rooms, like a living room or dining room.

essential oil diffuser

Best Diffusers for Kids

Creature Comforts is an ultrasonic diffuser that covers 400 square feet and runs for 8 hours. It's perfect for kids' bedrooms and is available in a frog, duck, cat, or pig.

To use the diffuser, take the top off and fill the chamber with tap water up to the rim. Add 3-4 drops of essential oil and replace the top.

Turn the diffuser on using the button on the front. It shuts off automatically when it runs out of water.

The Creature Comforts diffusers are perfect for kids. They’re easy to use, with one button to turn on and off. Kids will enjoy choosing from the different animals to accessorize their room.

whimsical essential oil diffusers shaped like frog, pig, duck, cat

Best Diffuser for Large Rooms

AromaLite is an ultrasonic diffuser that covers 1,000 square feet and runs for 4 or 8 hours with auto shut off.

To use the AromaLite diffuser, remove the outer white cover and the purple top. Fill with tap water up to the line. Add 5-6 drops of oil and then replace the top and the cover.

Turn the AromaLite on by clicking the button on the right. Click once for 4 hours or twice for 8 hours. Use the button on the left to turn the light on/off. It shuts off automatically.

The AromaLite diffuser is a little hard to clean, because the chamber is small. You might need to have someone with little hands wipe out the chamber.

essential oil diffuser

Best Car Diffuser

Scent Trekker is about the size of a soda can and fits neatly into a car's cup holder. It plugs in with a USB cable, so you'll need an adapter if your car doesn't have a USB port.

To use the Scent Trekker, fill it with tap water up to the indicated line. Add up to 5 drops of essential oil (we used 4 drops).

To turn the diffuser on, push the button on the side of the diffuser. Push once to turn the diffuser on with the colored lights; push again to diffuse without lights. Push a third time to turn the diffuser off. It shuts off automatically when unplugged, when the car turns off, or when it runs out of water.

essential oil diffuser in car

Easiest Diffuser to Clean

The Infiniti diffuser is an ultrasonic diffuser that reminds me of the Death Star from Star Wars.

To use the Infiniti diffuser, take the top off and fill the chamber with tap water up to the rim. Add 6+ drops of essential oil and replace the top.

Turn the Infiniti on and activate the lights using the buttons on the front. The left button controls the lights; the center button controls the timer; and the right button controls power. Click the center button once to run the Infiniti for 1 hour, twice for 2 hours, and 3 times for 3 hours. It shuts off automatically when the timer runs out or it runs out of water.

Because the Infiniti opens in the middle, it's easy to wipe down and clean.

essential oil diffuser and flowers

Best Nebulizing Diffuser

AromaAce is a nebulizing diffuser that covers 500 square feet and runs continuously. It has custom settings for mist output, run time, and pause time.

To use the Aroma Ace, attach the bottle of essential oil directly to the atomizer. This diffuser does not use water to operate. You may have to adjust the settings for mist/run/pause so you don't quickly use up an entire bottle of essential oil.

essential oil diffuser

Other Types of Diffusers

Ultrasonic and nebulizing diffusers are the most popular and most effective. You may see less expensive options, such as heat diffusers or evaporative diffusers. I don't recommend these for a few reasons:

  • Both of them use heat to disperse the oils, which destroys the oils' therapeutic properties.
  • The evaporative diffusers use electricity to push air through a scented pad, and you can easily scent the air without electricity by using a homemade felt air freshener.

Note: Don’t burn essential oils in a wax burner or other contraption! While they'll still smell good, you won't get any therapeutic benefit--which is a waste of good oils.

After You Get Your Diffuser

Check out my book with more than 100 diffuser recipes for your home, health, and family!

essential oil diffuser recipes book

How do I get Started with Essential Oils?

Good question--you're in the right place! I can hook you up--and I usually have sweet deals for folks who join my team. Click here for all the details.

What's your favorite diffuser?

The best essential oil diffusers, which diffusers to avoid, and how they work. Fun diffusers for kids and elegant, formal ones too.

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Hey, I’m Pam! I created Brown Thumb Mama to share my homesteading journey and help you live a greener life. Ready to learn more? Check out my Free Resource Guides, or my Shop to learn more.

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