How to use a reed diffuser


A reed diffuser and a candle on a gold tray.
(Image credit: Getty)

While I am low-key obsessed with my essential oil diffusers, I also love, love, love using a reed diffuser. I like to make sure that there’s at least one in every room in my home.

For keeping each space smelling fresh, without the need for scented candles or fake-smelling air fresheners, these are my go-to. Compared to scented candles, what I love about reed diffusers is how they continuously diffuse aroma into the air, without the need for an open flame. 

That said, I have a confession. I actually used to be rather anti reed diffusers, simply because mine always seems to lose their scent quickly and didn’t seem to work to effectively diffuse scent throughout the space. However, once I learned how to use reed diffusers properly, I realized I wasn’t getting the results I wanted because I hadn’t been using them properly. 

Feel like your reed diffusers aren’t performing as well as you’d expect? The key is to learn how to use them, because, honestly, if you use them properly they’re incredible. 

Good to know

Time: Two minutes - honestly, setting up a reed diffuser is SO quick and easy. 

Effort: Easy - the process couldn’t be any simpler. 

Helpful hints: For best results, opt for a reed diffuser that comes with high-quality natural rattan reeds. 

How to use a reed diffuser

Step 1: Put paper towels under the diffuser vessel 

Before you set up your diffuser, it’s a good idea to pop some paper towels underneath the vase or pot, so that you’re covered in case any of the fragrance oil gets spilt. Because — and I speak from experience here — it can be rather challenging attempting to pour your chosen oil into such a teeny tiny hole. 

Oh and, FYI, it’s probably best to avoid setting your reed diffuser up on a wooden or material surface, as any spilt oil can leave stains that are rather tricky — if not impossible — to remove. Sigh. 

Step 2: Pour the fragrance oil into the diffuser 

The next step is to pour the fragrance oil into the vessel. Ideally, you want to fill the vessel up to between half and three quarters full. Don’t make the mistake of filling the vessel to the very top with the fragrance oil, otherwise it may end up overflowing when the reeds are added. If your diffuser comes with oil already inside it, you can skip this step. Instead, all you need to do is remove the cork from the vessel to access the pre-filled fragrance oil. 

Step 3: Place your reeds inside the diffuser 

Then, you need to add the reed sticks to the vessel. The best way to do this is to add the reeds, immersing the bottom of the sticks into the fragrance oil, allowing the reeds to more easily soak up the oil. When choosing how many reeds to add to the vessel, remember that the more reeds you add, the stronger the scent will be.

Step 4: Flip the reeds 

Give the reeds a couple of hours to absorb some of the fragrance oil and then remove them from the vessel and flip them over, so the dry end of the stick ends up in the vessel and the saturated end is positioned in the air. 

Step 5: Spread the reeds 

Make sure that the reeds are well positioned (not stuck together) within the vessel and allow up to 24-hours for the fragrance to be fully absorbed and to begin to properly diffuse around the room. "Make sure you place it in the center of your room for maximum fragrance throw," claims our home fragrance expert Annie.


How often do you flip a reed diffuser?

It’s a good idea to flip the reeds every one to two weeks. By choosing to do so, you will give the space a fresh fragrance burst, while also helping to make sure that the reeds don’t end up getting clogged with oil. 

How does a reed diffuser work?

A reed diffuser works because the reeds (which are usually made from rattan reeds) have a number of small pores that allow for the fragrance oil to be easily absorbed and travel upwards to the top of the stick. Then, once the oil reaches the area of the stick that’s outside the bottle, it evaporates and the scent releases into the air. 

Do you put all the reeds in a reed diffuser?

How many reeds you put into the diffuser vessel is up to you and is down to personal preference. Just remember, the more reeds you add to your diffuser, the stronger the scent will be. 

How long do the reeds last in a diffuser?

High quality rattan reeds will last up to six months. However, after a few weeks you may start to notice that the scent has faded slightly. This happens because the reeds may become clogged with dust, excess oil, and general grime, which reduces how well the fragrance is able to diffuse from the reeds. For a diffuser that maintains its smell, it’s a good idea to switch out the reeds around every two to three months. 

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.