18 of the best home fragrances — chic smells for every room, budget, and scent profile

These are the very best home fragrances to invest in, with top notes from every scent family

Four of the best home fragrances including candle from Free People, Nest NY reed diffuser, Damselfly candle, and Miller Harris reed diffuser on peach ombre vector background
(Image credit: Future / Free People / Nest NY / Damselfly / Miller Harris)

Stocking up on the best home fragrances is one of the quickest ways to make your space feel expensive. Scents are deeply personal, often evoking memories and feelings, and in your home, help to set the mood or ambiance.

Whether you enjoy warm vanilla or crisp balsam, we‘ve tried, tested and rounded up various scent mediums from air fresheners, to candles and diffusers, with our guide showcasing something for all tastes and preferences.. 

Three of the items we've listed are $20 and under, and we’ve also included some premium options — and categorized our picks by scent family. Whether you're looking for the best candles within a certain price range, or have the capacity to splash more cash for someone special — there's a pick for every person.

The best home fragrances to buy right now

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Fresh scents

Floral scents

Spicy and woody scents

Fruity scents

Types of home fragrance

Using a candle to scent your space offers a consistent flow of fragrance. Be sure to consider the wax of your candle, with soy being the best and most clean option in our opinion, and evaluate the candle's size in comparison to your room size, and how many hours it can burn for. If you have small children or pets, you may want to opt for a flameless home fragrance solution.

Reed diffusers
These oil-filled vessels offer more control over a scent's reach. You'll need to regularly flip the sticks for a fragrance boost and can add or remove reeds to manage the intensity. Though reed diffusers aren't necessarily dangerous, do place them out of reach of children or pets to avoid spills on your furniture, and reduce the risk of ingestion.

Essential oil diffusers
Essential oil diffusers produce water-fragranced vapor into the air. We've only included one diffuser in this guide, and it works without water. Instead, it uses cold fusion technology to diffuse the essential oils. These mechanisms are a lot safer to use in your home as they usually automatically shut off once their water tank empties. Some are battery-operated and others rely on mains power, so need to be placed near a plug socket.

How to choose a home fragrance

Fragrance is very subjective, but it's one of the things that people with nice-smelling homes do take pride in and often feel particular about.. Just choose what you love the smell of. If you're still unsure of how to make your home smell good, there are a few general rules to help you make the best choice for you.

Living rooms: The living room is usually the largest room in the house and can tolerate a strong fragrance. Bold florals, rich amber-based, or woody-smoky fragrances, and sweet scents can all travel beautifully in this space. We'd avoid anything herbal or overly subtle, as you probably won't be able to smell it much.

Bedrooms: Choosing a scent for a bedroom is all about making sure you won't disrupt your sleep with an overly strong or stimulating fragrance. Avoid citruses or cloyingly sweet scents. We recommend subtly blended white florals, scents with tea notes, or herbal fragrances with lavender or chamomile.

Kitchens: The best fragrance for a kitchen will need to harmonize with the smells of food being prepared. Notes of tomato, passion fruit, basil, citrus, or mint all work particularly well. While a reed diffuser works well in any other room, we avoid putting them in kitchens where they might take on cooking smells, or where heat could impact their oils.

Bathrooms: This is your wild card of a room that can accommodate almost any fragrance, strong or subtle. We prefer to stick to herbal or fresh fragrances in a bathroom and wouldn't opt for anything too heavy, especially if your bathroom is windowless.

Entryways: A hallway is your home’s introduction, so why not go for a blast of scent? Opulent white florals, rose scents, or complex woody fragrances will make a strong first impression.

Home office: A home office fragrance (or a room in which you work) needs to support productivity without being distractive. Bright citruses will help you stay awake and concentrate, while a grounded fragrance with notes of amber or tobacco will create an area for focus.

What to consider when choosing a home fragrance

We've listed a range of specs above, along with each product we recommend. Specifications differ from reed diffusers to candles, but we've made sure to list both size and scent. Go for a larger candle if you‘re shopping for a big space. If it's a reed diffuser, don't be scared to use all of the reeds.

Candle burn time and wax type
We've listed the burn time of each candle. Consider this and compare it to the candle's price. The last specification we’ve included for candles is wax type. This is mostly down to personal preference, but we have found that soy wax tends to be a better option for air quality. People with nice-smelling small spaces might also opt for a non-paraffin wax as synthetic products have been known to cause headaches.

Reed diffuser sustainability
We've made sure to check if each reed diffuser has to be fully replaced once finished or if refills are available. Refilling is eco-friendly and more affordable than buying a new product. Some vessels can be recycled or repurposed into a small vase, just as candle jars can be reused.


Is now a good time to buy home fragrances?

We at Real Homes compare prices and provide insight using the Amazon price tracking site, camelcamelcamel. This allows us to see the lowest and highest prices recorded and provide guidance on the right time to buy home fragrance.

How we test home fragrance

Home fragrance testing image with reed diffusers, candles and room sprays on coffee table

A collection of home fragrances on Annie's coffee table

(Image credit: Future/Annie Collyer)

Every fragrance featured has been tested by me or a member of the Real Homes team so that you can buy knowing you're spending your money wisely. I've tested 100+ home fragrances, and have also reviewed scents for Livingetc and Homes & Gardens. I test these candles, reed diffusers, and essential oil diffusers in my two-bedroom apartment that I share with my husband and my dog.

Finding the right home fragrance for you may take a little trial and error. Are you more of a candle person or do you like a subtle air freshener? Think about your surroundings — you'll need to keep flames away from little ones and pets so candles may not be the best solution. If you're prone to knocking over a glass reed diffuser, maybe a plug-in air freshener would be a better option.

Christina Chrysostomou
Former acting head ecommerce editor

Hi, I'm the former acting head ecommerce editor at Real Homes. Prior to working for the Future plc family, I've worked on a number of consumer events including the Ideal Home Show, Grand Designs Live, and Good Homes Magazine. With a first class degree from Keele University, and a plethora of experience in digital marketing, editorial, and social media, I have an eye for what should be in your shopping basket and have gone through the internal customer advisor accreditation process.

With contributions from