Freshening up the scent of your home can improve your space and make it really inviting. Not only can you increase pleasure and enjoyment through home fragrance scents wafting through your home spaces, but you may also feel better and healthier, as essential oils have been known to alleviate stress and anxiety.
There are many home fragrance options to suit nearly every need, taste, and lifestyle, and they are dispensed in a wide variety of ways, including diffusers, sprays, gels, plug-ins, pillow mists, scented candles, reed diffusers, and incense. To help you with your choices, this guide includes a list of gems that could very well be your next best home fragrance.
- BEST OVERALL: InnoGear 500ml Essential Oil Diffuser
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Anjou Essential Oil Diffuser, Cool Mist Humidifier
- BEST FRAGRANCE SPRAY: Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day Room Freshener Spray
- BEST FRAGRANCE PLUG-IN: Air Wick Plug in Scented Oil, Lavender and Chamomile
- BEST PILLOW MIST: ASUTRA Lavender & Chamomile Aromatherapy Spray
- BEST SCENTED CANDLE: Chesapeake Bay Candle Scented Candle, Wild Lemongrass
- BEST REED DIFFUSER: NEST Fragrances Moroccan Amber Scented Reed Diffuser
- BEST INCENSE: Jembrana Incense Sticks – Mix 6 Scents from Bali Soap
- BEST FRAGRANCE GEL: Yankee Candle Just Plain Fresh Good Air
Popular Types of Home Fragrances
Believe it or not, there is a wide variety of home fragrance types to suit every taste, budget, and lifestyle—some you may have never even heard of. Ahead, you’ll find the lowdown on scented candles, diffusers, incense, plug-in air fresheners, fragrance gels, room refresher sprays, and pillow mists.
Scented candles can work wonders to change the vibe of any space in your home, whether it be the living room, bedroom, bathroom, or kitchen. These simple pleasures can easily create an inviting and calm atmosphere in your home, offer relaxation, and keep any space interesting and fresh.
Not only are scented candles small, inexpensive, and easy to change, but they also come in countless scents—some are deep and cozy, like musk and cinnamon, others are fresh and light, like citrus and springtime, and still others are strong and vibrant, like vanilla or cranberry. There really is something for everyone. What’s more, scented candles can increase focus, bring back positive memories, improve mood and sleep, and alleviate stress.
Diffusers use an oil diffusion process to heat oil to the point that it transforms to vapor and spreads throughout a space. Essential oils are dispersed into the air and then inhaled and absorbed by our bodies.
Using natural scents, diffusers are an affordable way to bring relaxation and health benefits into your space. Some of these benefits include purified air; mosquito, virus, and mold defense; pain and stress relief; and improved sleep.
Incense has existed for centuries and is a substance that is burned to produce fragrance. Traditionally, incense has been plant-based—made from barks, seeds, resins, flowers, or roots that are combined with a combustible binding material such as wood or charcoal powders to form a particular shape. Some modern incense is made with man-made fragrances. Today, people use incense not only for religious, spiritual, and cultural reasons but also to create an inviting mood in their homes. Common incense scents include musk, sandalwood, cinnamon, and patchouli.
Benefits from incense include improved creativity, reduced anxiety and stress, sharper mental focus, better sleep, and purified air.
Plug-In Air Fresheners
Plug-in air fresheners help mask unpleasant odors in your home and make your space more inviting. They come in many scents, including tropical fruit, florals, and fresh laundry. These types of air fresheners work with a fragrance refill that is inserted into a warmer which is plugged into an outlet.
Plug-in air fresheners often last for weeks before you need to replace the fragrance component. With some, you can even adjust the fragrance’s intensity, which is a great feature for households with members who have different fragrance tolerances. What’s also great is these air fresheners continuously work on their own, without intervention from you, and they don’t use much electricity.
Fragrance gels are simply gelatinous materials to which fragrance has been added. These types of air fresheners can hold their scent in a room for a long time because the gel suspends and traps the fragrance oil inside. Then, scent particles from the oil are released as the gel gradually evaporates.
What’s nice about fragrance gels is they hold their scent for a long time and, unlike candles, you don’t need to worry about putting out a flame.
Room Refresher Sprays
By strategically spraying a room refresher spray in areas of your home that may not smell the freshest, whether it’s from your gym clothes, the chicken you burned when cooking dinner, your pet, or garbage that needs to be taken out, you can reduce dirty or musty smells and really make the space more inviting.
Like other types of home fragrances, there are many room refresher sprays to choose from, including natural products.
Studies have shown that aromatherapy can lift your spirits and change your mood. This certainly applies to pillow mists, which you spritz on your linens before turning in for the night. These are often made from a blend of herbs, essential oils, and floral water.
It takes mere seconds to reap the benefits of a pillow mist. The idea is you breathe deeply as you fall asleep, surrounded by positive, relaxing vibes. Pillow mists can contribute to a deeper calm with less stress and, ultimately, a better night’s sleep.
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Home Fragrance
There are numerous considerations to address when choosing the best home fragrance for your space. Be sure to know your intended purpose for choosing a home fragrance, and consider the size of the room in which you’ll use the product. Desired ambience and scent play a big role in what you’ll purchase, too. Don’t overlook fragrance strength, as everyone has their own preferences and sensitivities. Consider also ease of use, as this will partly inform what you choose.
When choosing the best home fragrance for your space, you’ll want to think about the purpose it will serve.
For example, if you’re looking for continuous ambience as you, say, work in the next room or cook in the kitchen, you can start up a diffuser and walk away without giving it another thought. On the other hand, a home fragrance spray is perfect to freshen up rooms in between cleanings. And candles provide both mood lighting and scent, so they’re great for specific things like a bubble bath or dinner with your significant other.
When it comes to choosing your best home fragrance, particularly with diffusers, you don’t want to ignore the size of the room you’re looking to scent.
With so many different products on the market, you could inadvertently go with something that’s just too small for your space and unable to disperse aromatherapy throughout the entire room. For instance, a large, open-concept living room with high ceilings will require more than the average front entry of a 600-square-foot apartment.
Likewise, it’s smart to choose something that’s proportionate to a smaller space. You don’t want to feel overpowered by fragrance in small spaces like the bathroom but instead get just enough of a pleasant aroma.
The type of atmosphere or ambience you’re hoping to create will definitely influence which product makes the best home fragrance for your space.
In the main or larger areas of your home, like the living room and kitchen, you may opt for a diffuser in the corner. You may or may not care about the attractiveness of the diffuser and how it fits into your home decor. However, for a dinner party, you might pour the diffuser liquid into a decorative container or bottle for added appeal. Or, you can always choose to light a scented candle or two at the table to create some mood lighting. In the bathroom, a simple home fragrance plug-in is discreet and masks unfresh odors.
Your chosen fragrance will ultimately depend on the space you’re scenting and on the personal preferences of your household. Plus, there are numerous scents out there with different properties that change your mood and can, for instance, calm, comfort, or energize.
Fragrances are categorized by four families:
- Floral scents, the most popular family, include those such as lily, lavender, rose, magnolia, jasmine, and orchid. Since these scents are soft and not overbearing, they go well in any space of your home, particularly the bedroom (try lavender or orange flower to encourage relaxation), the bathroom, and the living room. Florals are not great in the kitchen as they can block food aromas; instead, try something mouthwatering like cinnamon, apple pie, or thyme.
- Oriental fragrances feature vanilla, cinnamon, ambra, honey, sandalwood, nutmeg, musk, ginger, incense, and carnation, among others. These scents, which are great for your living room or bedroom (try vanilla, amber, and musk for intimacy), are usually made with rare spices and can be sweet or spicy.
- Woodsy scents (sometimes referred to as chypre, which is French for cyprus) like earth, moss, oak, cedar, patchouli, citrus, and bergamot, typically appeal to all sorts of people and work well in any home space any time of the year.
- Fresh fragrances (sometimes referred to as ocean) such as fresh mountain air, ocean, and flower, are a newer family and suit spaces in which you want to exude cleanliness and freshness, like bathrooms, closets, or entrances.
If you live with people who are sensitive or allergic to fragrance or don’t like certain or strong scents, consider this when choosing your best home fragrance. Wildflowers, daisies, or sunflowers on a label usually indicate a natural, light, nonperfumy scent. Since these flowers tend to smell very little or not at all, manufacturers don’t actually take oils from them but instead create a scent based on our ideas about these flowers. This results in a lighter, less-fragrant scent that should please everyone.
On the other hand, if a very strong, potent fragrance appeals, you won’t have trouble finding it. Just try to smell it in advance, and read descriptions and reviews before buying, so you know what you’re getting. Avoid a single fragrance (for instance, freesia) unless it’s a very high-end product, as it can draw too much attention. Instead, go for a blend of a few scents that’s hard to define.
Ease of Use
As with learning about and using any new type of product, you’d be doing yourself a disservice if you didn’t consider its ease of use. After all, you want to get the most out of your home fragrance for the long term, and going with anything too complicated could be a deterrent that makes you start your search all over again. This would be frustrating and not the best use of your time.
If you prefer unfussiness, consider products, like diffusers and plug-ins, that are simply constructed without too many bells and whistles. With so many options on the market, you’re bound to find something that not only checks everything on your list but is also easy to use.
Our Top Picks
Selected with the features and tips mentioned above, the following recommendations include some of the best home fragrances for inviting spaces. These home fragrance products will help bring whatever vibe you’re after, whether it’s boosting relaxation, spicing things up for a lively family meal or party, reducing stress, increasing energy, or fostering a calm, inviting ambience in your space.
This essential oil diffuser looks sleek and simple and is versatile for various spaces, including your living room, bedroom or office—and the quiet technology aligns with secondary goals of creating a peaceful setting.
It features four timers and two mist levels for different scent tolerances to help create a relaxing oasis in which to take the edge off your day. Made free of BPAs, this diffuser also features a strong mist at a tall height so that your furniture stays dry—a very thoughtful feature. What’s also nice is the diffuser automatically shuts off as soon as the water (which sits in a tank that’s quite easy to clean and refill) runs out.
This essential oil diffuser is extremely quiet as it gives off a therapeutic mist, meaning you can sleep, work, or kick back in peace. The strength of its mist output can be adjusted to your liking, which is helpful for household members with different preferences. It creates a soothing vapor to purify and humidify your home.
Conveniently, there are three auto-off timer settings, and the device turns off completely when the tank is empty. This Anjou diffuser comes with a one-year warranty, collapsible refilling cup, and proprietary technology that requires just a single fill to give 12 to 15 hours of scent, depending on the power mode you choose.
Although this product is likely great for most people, some users mentioned the humidifier isn’t the most effective for large spaces in dry climates at high altitudes.
If you’re looking to make your room more fresh and inviting between cleanings and give your home an overall cohesive scent, this pack of three lavender-scented home fragrance sprays may be just the ticket. This particular spray smells like garden-fresh lavender, the brand’s original scent, but other fragrances are also available from Mrs. Meyer’s.
Made from essential oils in an environmentally friendly (at least 30 percent post-consumer plastic), nonaerosol air freshener spray bottle, this product is not tested on animals, is made with plant-derived ingredients, and is free of propellants, phthalates, parabens, and artificial colors. So, it’s a great option if you’re an environmentally and socially conscious consumer. As a bonus, this spray is safe to use on many types of fabric.
This Air Wick home fragrance plug-in can be used in the living room, bathroom, bedroom, hallways, kitchen, office…you name it! Each refill contains natural essential oils with lavender, chamomile, and precious wood scents and offers up to 60 days of continuous fragrance (on the low setting). The scent wafts up and out to consistently reach the entire room, continuously diffusing and blending fragrance throughout your space.
You can easily adjust the scented oil warmer with five fragrance settings to give just the right amount of fragrance (very useful if your household has varying degrees of scent preferences).
Some users found the scent too strong, but it’s possible their settings were maximized.
Gentle and calming lavender and chamomile can bring peace of mind and relaxation to put you right to sleep. This Asutra pillow mist uses these pure essential oils and distilled water, formulated with nontoxic and vegan ingredients, to help boost your mood and refresh your room.
Even tennis player Venus Williams loves this stuff! She says, “You can use this on your body, you can use this as a room spray, you can use it on your sheets. And it has an amazing lavender smell that’s very relaxing.”
This is a convenient pillow mist, despite the fact some users felt that the product gets used up quickly and that it’s a simple thing they could make themselves.
This candle collection is inspired by the charm of Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay shoreline and brings calmness, relaxation, and tranquility to your home. Wild lemongrass gives off a fresh and uplifting scent, with notes of verbena, lavender, garden mint, lemongrass, eucalyptus, thyme, and coriander and all-natural essential oils of eucalyptus, lemongrass, peppermint, and spearmint. With a flame that shines through the frosted jar, this candle will burn for about 70 hours.
These candles are 100 percent recyclable, designed and poured in the United States, and made with ingredients from around the world, including self-trimming lead-free wicks and a natural soy wax blend that burns clean.
Although some users found this candle to be a bit weak, keep in mind that everyone’s scent tolerance is different.
This reed diffuser includes fragrance oils of moroccan amber, sweet patchouli, heliotrope, and bergamot with a hint of eucalyptus. It’s an alcohol-free formula that slowly and consistently releases fragrance for about 90 days. What’s nice about reed diffusers is they pull double duty as a piece of home decor—and, in this case, the simple, clear glass vessel will likely complement whatever decor you may have.
If you’re someone who loves a stronger fragrance, simply flip the reeds over from time to time. However, this product might make the most difference in a smaller space, since its scent doesn’t travel throughout a large room.
You can enjoy the long-lasting aromas of tropical flowers, wood, herbs, and spices that represent natural elements found on Bali, where this incense is traditionally hand rolled by local Balinese people in the rural Jembrana district of the island’s west coast. These 7.5-inch incense sticks will each burn for about 45 minutes. You’ll get one pack of 24 sticks of each fragrance—Lotus, Gardenia, Sandalwood, Healing Spirit, Mindfulness, and Floral Goddess, for a total of 144 sticks per order.
Jembrana incense is wonderful for relaxation, meditation, yoga, aromatherapy, and healing, but keep in mind some of the scents may be more perfumy than you may be used to with traditional incense.
This Yankee Candle home fragrance gel works to counteract odors in your space and neutralize them on contact. It contains gel beads that smell clean, fresh, and pleasant and will last up to about 45 days.
This gel has a nice, light fragrance that won’t perfume your home in a heavy or obvious way as many home fragrance products might. So, it’s a great choice if you or members of your household are sensitive to strong fragrances.
The Just Plain Fresh Good Air is a solid home fragrance gel option, despite some users reporting it lasts only a few weeks.
Tips for Using Home Fragrances
Below are some tips for finding and using the best home fragrances. You can use this section as a quick guide that covers various considerations when shopping for a home fragrance product and home fragrance scents.
These tips take into account the type and size of your space, the ambience you’re hoping to create, your purpose for having the home fragrance, how easy you’d like using the product to be, and how to choose the right scent and fragrance intensity for specific rooms and allergies, sensitivities, or preferences.
- Buy a product that will work in the type and size of space you’re looking to scent and for the ambience you’re hoping to achieve.
- Know your purpose and when and how you plan to use your home fragrance, and look for a scent accordingly.
- Consider products that are easy to use, like diffusers and plug-ins that are simply constructed without too many bells and whistles.
- Pick the right scents for each area: for the kitchen, something mouthwatering, like cinnamon, apple pie, or thyme; in the bathroom, linen, citrus, or a perfume fragrance are ideal; and favorable scents in the bedroom include lavender or orange flower for relaxation or vanilla, amber, and musk for intimacy.
- For people who are allergic or sensitive to fragrance or don’t like certain or strong scents, consider products with wildflowers, daisies, or sunflowers on the label, as they usually mean a natural, light, nonperfumy scent.
FAQs About Home Fragrance
You may still be wondering about how to choose the best home fragrances for inviting spaces, which is not surprising at all. With so many different products and options out there, it can be overwhelming to go through so much information. So, here are answers to some of your burning questions about the best home fragrances. We’ll go over fragrances and your health, fresh fragrance and popular scents, and the best home fragrance diffusers.
Q. Are home fragrances bad for your health?
Potentially. Some can irritate skin, increase air pollution, and be harmful with long-term exposure because of volatile organic compounds released into the air. Do your research.
Q. What is a fresh fragrance?
An uplifting, cooling, or zesty fragrance that has notes like lemon, bergamot, orange, grapefruit, and mandarin.
Q. What are the most popular scents?
Floral, Oriental, chypre (earth, moss, oak, cedar, patchouli, citrus, and bergamot), fougere (ferns and lavender), ocean, and wood.