12 of the best reed diffusers, tried and tested — from $29

A dozen of the best reed diffuser scents to buy — categorized by scent profile

One of the best reed diffusers in our buying guide: The Nest New York Himalayan Salt & Rosewater Reed Diffuser unboxed with packaging and fresh roses in background
(Image credit: Nest NY)

Investing in the best reed diffuser is one of the safest, and low-maintenance ways to scent your home. The sticks absorb the scented oil from the vessel and release fragrance into the air. All you have to do is flip the permeable rods.

No flickering flames getting out of control or black marks on your walls. And, if you're particularly health conscious, you don't need to worry about inhaling paraffin-based wax or burning chemicals either.

From the likes of Nest New York, Rituals, and Archipelago Botanicals, here are the best home fragrances to scent your home, all tested by the Real Homes team in our actual homes for weeks. We've also shared our testing process and answered the questions you might have about oil diffusers. 

The best reed diffusers to buy for your home

Why you can trust Real Homes Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing products and services so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about how we test.

Sweet and fruity scents

Floral scents

Spicy, smoky, and woody scents

How we test reed diffusers

The best reed diffusers as reviewed by Annie in her bedroom on her chest of drawers with plant beside them

(Image credit: Future/Annie Collyer)

I have been testing home fragrances for years in my two-bedroom apartment that, as you can imagine, smells like a total dream. I always move them from room to room, and like to use them until they are half empty before making my mind up.

A couple of reed diffusers in this guide have been recommended by members of the Real Homes team. I warned my colleagues not to place the reed diffuser next to a heat source such as a radiator or a heater, as this can cause the oil to evaporate quicker than normal. But otherwise, I made sure that the process of how we test was as standardized as possible.

What to consider when choosing a reed diffuser

1. Is it refillable?
With candles, once they’re gone — they’re gone. Not so with reed diffusers, which can be topped up with new fragrance oil. When you buy a diffuser refill, discard old reeds — they’ll be saturated with the scent from the first oil — and use new ones.

When refilling, you don't need to pour all the oil into the vessel. Instead, fill it to about two-thirds or three-quarters full. This allows for proper absorption by the reeds. Adding too much oil can oversaturate the reeds, leading to a strong smell that may be overpowering. Thicker reeds can absorb and release more fragrance, leading to stronger smell. However, the effectiveness of this can depend on the shape and size of the room.

The lifespan of your reed diffuser will vary based on factors such as the size of the bottle and the amount of oil used. Normally, an average reed diffuser can last anywhere from several weeks to a few months. However, factors like room temperature, ventilation, and the number of reeds can influence how quickly the oil evaporates.  

2. Think about scents you normally like
Florals are fairly self-explanatory, though some of them get a bad rap for being too strong. Consider something from the woody or spicy families, or on the other end of the spectrum, a fresher, "greener" scent. Alternatively, if you're feeling stressed or anxious, you may benefit from picking an aromatherapeutic reed diffuser. Scents containing sage and rosemary can offer focus and clarity when dotted around the home, and lavender is known to be particularly calming if you're having trouble relaxing or sleeping. On the contrary, zingy citrusy scents can be energizing if you need a little pick-me-up. Peppermint has a similar uplifting effect.

3. Check its size
The larger the diffuser — the longer it will last. And don't forget, the more reeds in the fragrance, the quicker it will empty. Plus, the more often you flip the reeds the quicker the fragrance will need to be refilled or replaced, too. It's worth bearing this in mind when looking at the price of a reed diffuser — when will you next need to pay to refill or replace it?

4. Consider its design
Buy a reed diffuser that fits with your home decor, because it may have to be placed in the center of a room. Also, be sure to check if its vessel is recyclable after use, and if not, then you might want to ensure refills are available so you won't have to throw away the whole vessel. Most reed diffusers are eco-friendly as they are made using glass and bamboo wooden sticks.

5. Does it come as a candle or a room spray too?
If you like your home to smell the same throughout, check whether the reed diffuser you have picked comes as a candle, wax melt, air freshener, or room spray, too. This might appeal if you live in an open-plan or small apartment and don't want different scents to merge. However, some people call it scent layering!


Are reed diffusers better than plug-ins?

Reed diffusers don't require electricity to run, whereas plug-in fragrances do. So, in terms of energy efficiency — reed diffusers are better.

How can I make my reed diffuser last longer?

Don't flip your reeds as frequently. Once a month is sufficient, and if you live in a smaller space, you won't need to flip them at all. You can also put a stopper in the reed diffuser if you're happy with the strength of the scent in the room.

If you haven't kept the stopper from your reed diffuser, you could use a shop-bought set instead, such as these Feel Fragrance Glass Diffuser Jars on Amazon.

Where to buy reed diffusers

Browse more buys online from some of Real Homes' favorite brands and retailers.

If you're into DIY, our guide on how to make a reed diffuser will help you create your very own concoction with essential oils, available from Amazon. This is a fun hobby and makes a great gifting idea if you're short of cash.

You can very easily personalize your presents by buying colored glass bottles and customizing the scent, depending on the recipient. I love the color of this expensive-looking Refillable Glass Diffuser from Vipolish at Amazon, but if you're making something for a younger person, it's got to be this ombre pink container from Darklove Store on Amazon

If mist is more your thing, consider one of our best essential oil diffusers for an aromatherapeutic experience.

Annie Collyer
Head Ecommerce Editor

Hi! I'm Annie, and I'm the Head Ecommerce Editor at Real Homes. I've been part of the Real Homes team since 2018, when I joined as Deals Editor. Along with covering major sales events — from Black Friday to Amazon Prime Day — I review home must-haves so that you can buy with peace of mind. Mostly focusing on home fragrance and sleep, as well as a few vacuum cleaners, I've tested pretty much every item you can think of that you need in your home. I live on the outskirts of the city in a two-bed apartment with my husband and my pug, Doug. So I am always searching for compact alternatives and ways to save floor space. What about when I am not typing away? Well, you'll find me enjoying an iced coffee (no matter the season) and trying out the latest brunch spots the city has to offer, or booking my next holiday. Where else can you find my words? Livingetc, Homes & Gardens, Ideal Home, Gardeningetc, and Woman & Home.

With contributions from