Reed diffusers might only spring to mind when you need a birthday present for the mother-in-law, but you’ll be doing them a great disservice.
A diffuser offers a more subdued scent than a candle, but unlike candles you can leave them to their own devices, meaning you get in from work and walk into a pleasant smelling living room. Plus, you can adjust the volume of scent by adding or removing the wooden reeds as desired.
If you can’t seem to smell them, don’t despair, your diffuser might just need relocating. “It’s always a good idea to try them in another spot in the room,” advises Sarah Jackson of Manchester Candles. “Scent is a funny thing and can circulate around rooms differently depending on drafts and how the air in the room moves.”
How we tested
We tried the below diffusers in different rooms and noticed the “throw” (how well the scent travels), how strong it smells with all the reeds included, the originality of the bouquet, and whether we could stand living with it at all times of the day. The ones that really stood out were those which we “noticed”, and those which guests commented on too.
The one thing our writer learned when testing reed diffusers is that good, cheap ones are hard to come by. If you want a nice fragrance that doesn’t make your home smell like chemical carpet cleaner, you need to splash out unfortunately. We whittled it down to the below eight, including a purse-friendly option.
Most diffusers should give you twelve weeks of fragrance, or more depending on how many reeds you use in them. Save your candles for a romantic dinner or cosy night in – and stock up on these amazing aroma sticks instead.
The best reed diffusers for 2022 are:
Best overall – Neom perfect night’s sleep reed diffuser: £38, Neomorganics.com
Best for English florals – Floral Street lady Emma: £34, Floralstreet.com
Best smart coffee table scent – Lalique vetiver: £68.25, Thefragrancecounter.co.uk
Best for clearing your sinuses – Manchester Candles eucalyptus and mint reed diffuser: £13, Manchestercandles.co.uk
Best for large rooms – Ormonde Jayne Ta’if scented reed diffuser: £250, Selfridges.com
Best for cutting through cooking smells – Molton Brown orange and bergamot aroma reeds: £45, Moltonbrown.co.uk
Best gift for men – Von Norten bergamot, oakmoss, leather and tobacco diffuser: £30, Vonnorten.se
Best for glamorous escapism – Eight & Bob The Hamptons Sagaponack diffuser: £75, Thescentcity.com
Neom perfect night’s sleep reed diffuser
If you regularly find yourself at the mercy of the sleep gods, a good tip is to make your bedroom a place that your brain associates with sleep. That means no laptops or TVs, and the same goes for work files and office clutter. It should instead be a place of tranquility where your mind can easily switch off.
Neom’s reed diffuser with English lavender, jasmine and sweet basil adds to the effect, and while it didn’t fully cure our insomnia (we weren’t expecting it to) it certainly helped us relax, with its spa-like fragrance. To maximise its effects, we recommend turning the reeds just before bed, and tag-teaming with the brand’s lavender pillow spray (£20, Neomorganics.com).
Buy now £38.00, Neomorganics.com
Floral Street lady Emma
Best: For English florals
Emma is one of those quintessentially English names that conjures up someone bright, unassuming and effortlessly charming . This scent is just as pleasing, named after 18th century model and muse Lady Emma Hamilton, a society beauty with a “shady courtesan past” whose portraits are displayed in the National Gallery.
The diffuser has a potent blend of apricot-tinged roses and fresh leafy accords with green apple notes, it’s modern take on the floral which, like its namesake, isn’t traditional or “grannyish” in the slightest. Plus, the pink holder makes a fetching addition to any bathroom sink or living room coffee table.
Buy now £34.00, Floralstreet.com
Best: Smart scent
While some people might think of reed diffusers as somewhat pedestrian and mumsy, not all are created equal, nor do they invariably smell of floral air freshener. Lalique raises the bar with its punchy perfumes, and its vetiver reed diffuser is case in point.
Vetiver is a fragrant tall grass found in India and Haiti, famed for its warm, earthy scent which is why it often pops up in men’s colognes. Apparently, inhaling the essential oil improves alertness and brain function, which makes this reed diffuser a great desk-side companion. It boasts a generous, leathery scent, which isn’t too “bachelor pad”, yet is sophisticated enough to jazz up any room in the house. It’s currently out of stock online due to delayed dispatch, but you can sign up for email notifications for when it’s back.
Buy now £68.25, Thefragrancecounter.co.uk
Manchester Candles eucalyptus and mint reed diffuser
Best: For clearing your sinuses
There are few things worse when you’re under the weather than also being trapped in a stuffy bedroom. Not only does this diffuser provide a blast of freshness, it can also help you breathe easier – plus, it smells nicer than a dollop of Vick’s Vaporub melted in a bowl of hot water. One of the best budget-friendly diffusers we’ve tried (and trust us, there aren’t many) the mint also apparently helps sharpen the mind and improve focus.
Buy now £13.00, Manchestercandles.co.uk
Ormonde Jayne Ta’if scented reed diffuser
Best: For large rooms
If you’re struggling to scent a stately home or hotel (a nice problem to have you might say) then Ormonde Jayne has the answer. Based in Mayfair, the perfume houses’s fragrances bring glamour and then some.
This 500ml reed diffuser is – in the words of an old boyfriend from Nottingham – “a bit of a unit”. Such is its stature, it made us feel almost Borrower-like when it arrived – a glass bottle the size of a teapot, with 12 drumstick-like reeds for scenting large rooms.
Its Ta’if fragrance is a regal, uplifting blend of rose oil, orange flower and freesia. Walk into a room smelling of this and you’ll start sashaying around like Princess Margaret in The Crown. And a top tip from perfumer Linda Pilkington: “If you are expecting guests and entertaining, turn all the reeds two hours before the party starts!”
Buy now £250.00, Selfridges.com
Molton Brown orange and bergamot aroma reeds
Best: For cutting through cooking smells
At university, we saw Molton Brown as a byword for “posh bubble bath” – and its aroma reeds are equally expensive-smelling. It would no doubt make even the shabby, rat-infested student house we used to rent feel like a palace.
Its orange and bergamot bouquet is legendary among fans of this brand, and for good reason – a refreshing, happy citrus scent guaranteed to cheer up the gloomiest of days. In the form of a reed diffuser, it cuts through any remaining whiffs of cooking oil and garlic in the kitchen, while the zesty scent can enhance the energising effects of your Monday morning coffee.
Buy now £45.00, Moltonbrown.co.uk
Von Norten bergamot, oakmoss, leather and tobacco diffuser
Best: Gift for men
There’s a type of bloke who listens to Marc Maron podcasts who is inevitably a nightmare when you have to buy them gifts. Luckily this concoction will make a pleasing alternative to yet another pair of socks or bottle of scotch.
If you think reed diffusers are all about florals, think again. This one is the “rock n’roll” alternative, the Ronnie Wood of reed diffusers if you will. A smooth scent that conjures up leather jackets, handmade wooden furniture and gentleman’s clubs, it will keep his man cave elegantly fragranced, with a dash of debonair flair.
Buy now £30.00, Vonnorten.se
Eight & Bob The Hamptons Sagaponack diffuser
Best: For glamorous escapism
We have to admit, we had a rocky start with this one. We used it with all the reeds in at once, which we realised was overkill for a one-bedroom flat. Whittle it down to three or four and it really comes into its own, emitting a delightful whiff of lychee (which can smell very acrid in large doses), peach and rose.
With fewer reeds, we positioned it by an open window and let the scent waft in on the breeze, making us (almost) believe we were sunning ourselves in the Hamptons – the name “Sagaponack” being a ritzy town in the famous Long Island hot spot.
Buy now £75.00, Thescentcity.com
Reed diffusers FAQs
Reed diffusers vs electric diffusers: What’s the difference?
A reed diffuser is a great way to add constant fragrance to a room without having to remember to plug it in or the need for heat. They deliver fragrance using a wick system whereby a series of wooden reeds absorb the fragrance from the bottle and release it into the air, continuously filling your home with your chosen scent. Unlike electric diffusers, this type cannot be turned off and you cannot control the level of fragrance that’s released.
While electric diffusers work in a similar way, infusing the air around you with fragrance, there are some key differences. To use an electric diffuser, you simply fill the water tank with water, add some essential oils and plug it into the wall. Many models allow you to change the level of fragrance that’s emitted or you can set a timer so that it only works at a time that suits you.
The verdict: Reed diffusers
Any reed diffuser worth its salt should make a house smell like a home, and one that’s a joy to step into. Although its reputation precedes it, Neom’s perfect night’s sleep reed diffuser deserves every accolade it gets. As soon as we walked through the door of our flat, we were greeted with a pleasant scent that wasn’t overbearing, but welcoming and relaxing. It’s the perfect pong to help aid relaxation and dial up the cosiness as the colder seasons creep in.
For the latest discounts on homeware, try the links below:
For more interiors inspiration, read our guide to the trendiest candlestick holders