How to use an essential oil diffuser — tips from someone who is obsessed with hers

Sooo how does this thing work exactly?

An essential oil diffuser with a water jug and bottle of essential oil.
(Image credit: Real Homes / Beth Mahoney)

Okay, confession: I own far too many essential oil diffusers for one person (or one house), and I am a teeny tiny bit obsessed. But, I mean, honestly can you ever really have too many essential oil diffusers? I don’t think so.

When it comes to how to use an essential oil diffuser effectively and get the most out of it, I’d say that I’m somewhat of an expert. I’ve tried a lot of different devices, from portable mini diffuser pods to extra-large diffusers that puff out a serious amount of scent. So, when it comes to how to work your diffuser, I’m your gal. 

Have you just bought a diffuser and aren’t sure how it works? Or have you had yours for a while but aren’t quite sure you’re making the most of it? Don’t panic, I’ve got you covered with a guide to how to use an essential oil diffuser. 

How to use an essential oil diffuser

Here's what you'll need

How to use an essential oil diffuser

Step 1: Plug in your essential oil diffuser  

Start by finding a good spot for your diffuser — ideally somewhere that it won’t get knocked over — and close to a power outlet. Once you’ve found the right spot, plug in your diffuser so that it’s ready to use. 

Step 2: Remove the case 

Carefully remove the outer case of the diffuser — if you’re unsure of how to do this refer to the instructions. Once you’ve removed the outer case, you should be able to easily lift off the inner lid, revealing the water tank. 

Water being poured from a jug into the tank of an essential oil diffuser

(Image credit: Real Homes / Beth Mahoney)

Step 3: Fill the tank with water 

Using an easy-pour jug, carefully fill the tank with water, making sure to fill the tank to above the minimum fill line but below the maximum fill line. If any water is spilled on or around the base, ensure that you quickly wipe it up. 

Step 4: Add essential oil

Once the tank has been filled with water, add a few drops of essential oil of your choice to the water. When it comes to picking essential oils, I'm a big fan of the Neom range of oils — like this Scent to De-Stress one from Amazon that I use day in, day out. 

Pro tip: Always check the device’s care instructions in relation to how much oil to add to it — while some diffusers say one or two drops, others allow for a more liberal amount of oil to be added. 

Step 5: Replace the case 

Once you’ve filled the tank with water, you can then replace the internal lid, before reattaching the outer case to the base of the diffuser. 

Essential oil being dripped into an essential oil diffuser tank.

(Image credit: Real Homes / Beth Mahoney)

Step 6: Turn the essential oil diffuser on 

Finally, you can use the on button or a remote control (depending on what your diffuser has) to turn it on. 


How can I clean my diffuser?

To clean your diffuser, empty out the water and gently wipe out the inside of the tank with a paper towel. To ensure all excess oil is removed, use a cotton swab to gently wipe around the edges and center of the tank. 

Should I empty out water after use?

After using your essential oil diffuser, it’s important to empty out the water. Never leave the water to sit in the tank when the diffuser is not in use as this can cause damage to the system over time. 

Are essential oil diffusers safe?

Beth Mahoney
Staff Writer

Hi! I’m Beth Mahoney and I’m a Staff Writer at Real Homes. I’ve been a journalist for the national press for the past six years, specializing in commerce and trends-related lifestyle articles, from product reviews and listicles to guides and features. With an eye for pretty things (think: quirky wall prints, scalloped edge furniture, and decadent-looking tableware) but a limited budget, I love nothing more than a bargain buy.