Essential oil diffusers add to a room’s cozy ambiance; their fragrances make the whole house smell inviting. But where are the best places to put a diffuser once you get one? And where shouldn’t you place it?

Here’s the TL;DR:

The best places to put a diffuser are the living room, bedroom, home office, entryway or hallway, and bathroom. Avoid placing essential oil diffusers close to electronics (damage), near open windows (reduced fragrance), in direct sunlight (oil degradation), and small places (overwhelming scent).

Keep reading to learn where seven places you should — and seven places you shouldn’t — put your essential oil diffuser. I’ll also explain why!

Disclaimer: I’ll present research suggesting possible health benefits of diffusing essential oils. Keep in mind that research in this field is limited. I cannot 100% say that any essential oil will — in fact — improve health, purify the air, or kill bacteria. 

Where To Put Your Essential Oil Diffuser

When deciding where to place your diffuser, several factors must be considered. These include where you spend the most time, the potential mind and body benefits of certain oils, and areas that hold onto odors the most.

Here are seven of the best locations for a diffuser:

1. Living Room

an essential oil diffuser on a coffee table
An essential oil diffuser on a living room coffee table

The first thing people notice when they walk into a home is its smell. The living room is also the most-judged room in a house. That’s why the most logical place to put a diffuser is where you and your guests can smell it — in the living room. 

A diffuser here can create a peaceful, stress-free atmosphere ideal for winding down after a long day. Oils like citrus oils and eucalyptus can also liven up the mood and make the space feel more inviting to guests. 

Also worth noting: the living room tends to accumulate odors, like those from cooking and pets. Diffusing pleasing fragrances in this area can mask these odors temporarily. Because they’re also larger, living rooms may better disperse the fragrance for a less powerful aroma. 

Position your diffuser on a coffee table, a side table near a seating area, or a high shelf. 

Best Essential Oils for the Living Room

  • Lavender: Known for its calming and relaxing properties, making your living room a cozy retreat after a long day’s work. In 2022, a meta-analysis found that diffusing lavender can significantly reduce stress scores. 
  • Eucalyptus: Provides a refreshing, clean scent with possible respiratory benefits. Mount Sinai suggests it can loosen phlegm and help treat colds and coughs. 
  • Lemon or Orange: A refreshing fragrance that can lift mood and make the main living area exciting. One study shows that smelling citrus oils (yuzu) for 10 minutes can boost mood for up to 30 minutes.

2. Bedroom

an essential oil diffuser on a shelf
An essential oil diffuser on a decorative bedroom shelf

Forty-three percent of people reported lying awake at night due to stress in the last month. And 21% say they feel more stress when they don’t get enough sleep. Poor sleep quality can also impact mood, memory, and decision-making skills. 

These figures and facts make the bedroom a seemingly obvious choice for a diffuser. The ambiance of the mist and the mood-boosting, stress-relieving benefits of some oils can turn a bedroom into a tranquil retreat. 

Often smaller than other rooms in the house, bedrooms are also easy to fill with a relaxing fragrance with few drops of oil needed

Put your diffuser on a bedside table (for lighter aromas) or a far shelf or dresser (for more potent fragrances).

Best Essential Oils for the Bedroom

  • Lavender: Encourages relaxation and can possibly improve sleep quality. Studies suggest diffusing lavender can provide “small to moderate benefit” on sleep. 
  • Ylang-ylang: Reduces stress and anxiety for a better night’s sleep. One study of nursing home workers found that ylang-ylang can boost mood and reduce anxiety.
  • Bergamot: Improves mood and relaxes the body and mind pre-bedtime. One study found that using a bergamot spray before bed and upon waking can make you feel more refreshed and less sleepy upon waking.
  • Chamomile: Induces a calming feeling, especially on the mind. A meta-analysis on chamomile and its effects on the body and mind shows it can improve sleep quality and reduce anxiety.

3. Home Office or Study

an essential oil diffuser on a desk
An essential oil diffuser on a dimly lit home office desk

Coming in at #3 is the home office or study, a place where focus, productivity, and mental clarity are key. Diffusing oils in this space can create a calmer working environment and alleviate stress. You can also boost your mood and concentration by using more invigorating oils, like lemon and peppermint. 

Place your diffuser on a desk or nearby shelf, in a corner, or on a windowsill that doesn’t receive direct sunlight or wind. 

Best Essential Oils for the Home Office or Study

  • Peppermint: Enhances mental focus and concentration, a particularly useful duo in the office setting. One study of the mental effects of peppermint aroma found that peppermint enhances memory and boosts alertness. 
  • Rosemary: Improves short-term memory. A study of 53 students revealed that those exposed to a rosemary “spray” had better number and image memory. 
  • Lavender: Reduces stress and anxiety, which can run high while on the clock. 
  • Lemon: Lifts mood for a more focused, productive workday.

4. Entryway or Hallway

an essential oil diffuser on a piano
An essential oil diffuser on an entryway piano

If you want to “greet” guests with a satisfying aroma as they walk in, the entryway or hallway are ideal locations. Diffusing your favorite oils here can set a positive first impression and a more welcoming tone for guests. 

A fresh, clean scent — such as lemon or eucalyptus — invigorates the senses and energizes guests. They can also make a home smell cleaner from the moment guests arrive.

By placing it near an open door (entry) or centralized area (hallway), you can also better spread the fragrance throughout the house. This can maximize the power of your essential oils without doubling your drops or investing in multiple diffusers. 

Put your diffuser on a console table or a shelf near the front door — where the scent will be immediately noticeable. 

Best Essential Oils for the Entryway or Hallway

  • Lemon or Orange: A refreshing, energizing aroma that greets guests upon entry.
  • Eucalyptus or Tea Tree: Potentially “purifies” or cleanses the air. One study even suggests that these oils have antimicrobial properties against airborne microbes. But it only lasts for the first ~30–60 minutes.
  • Jasmine: Provides a soothing, floor, tranquil scent when entering a space. (Research on the proven benefits of using jasmine is lacking, but the scent is enough!)

5. Bathroom

an essential oil diffuser on a bathroom countertop
An essential oil diffuser on a bathroom counter

The bathroom is another common location for a diffuser, as the oils create a fresh, clean, hygienic scent. Some oils — like tea tree and peppermint — reportedly have antimicrobial and odor-neutralizing traits. 

Though more research is necessary, they can be particularly beneficial in the bathroom setting. Public bathrooms, for example, see half a million bacterial cells per square inch of surfaces within an hour of use. Of course, bathrooms are also where we go #1 and #2, making bad odors especially fierce. 

Beyond covering up odors, diffusing oils in the bathroom can create a spa-like, calming atmosphere during baths and showers. 

Place your diffuser on a shelf or countertop away from water sources. 

Best Essential Oils for the Bathroom

  • Lavender: Creates a calming, relaxing atmosphere, which is particularly useful during long, hot baths.
  • Lemon, Eucalyptus, or Tea Tree: Powerful, pleasing fragrances that can refresh a bathroom’s scent after… going #2. 

6. Meditation Space

an essential oil diffuser in a meditation space
An essential oil diffuser on a table in a meditation space

Many believe essential oils improve mindfulness, tranquility, and spiritual connections. That’s why #6 on this list is placing your diffuser where you meditate, do yoga, or relax in silence. 

Your oil choice may also influence the zen environment you’re looking to create. Oils like frankincense and sandalwood can aid in “grounding,” help clear the mind, and encourage inner peace to believers. 

Position your diffuser on a low table or on the floor where you meditate, as long as you won’t knock into it.

Best Essential Oils for the Meditation Space

  • Frankincense: Encourages inner peace, improves spirituality, and clears the mind. It’s often burned or diffused during ceremonies and meditation sessions
  • Sandalwood: Known for its grounding effects and assists in achieving a deep meditative state. One study found that inhaling sandalwood can lower blood pressure and reduce cortisol.
  • Lavender: Has a reputation for being a calming, relaxing oil, which can further aid in meditation sessions. 

7. Kitchen

an essential oil diffuser on a kitchen table
An essential oil diffuser on a kitchen table

Last on the list is the kitchen, notorious for holding onto cooking odors for hours — if not days. By diffusing essential oils in the kitchen, you can temporarily mask these smells for a fresher, cleaner scent.

Some oils, like lemon and orange, can make the kitchen feel more energizing and vibrant if you’re entertaining. But you can also diffuse herby oils, like basil, to enhance your cooking experience and create a more complex fragrance. 

Place your diffuser on a countertop away from heat sources (like ovens and microwaves) and where it won’t get in the way.

Best Essential Oils for the Kitchen

  • Lemon or Orange: Common fragrances used in cleaning products for their refreshing scent and odor-masking abilities. 
  • Basil, Rosemary, or Mint: Create a pleasant, herbaceous atmosphere that complements cooking smells. 

Where You Shouldn’t Put Your Diffuser

In the list above, I gave you the best rooms in the house for an essential oil diffuser. But there are also places within those rooms where a diffuser doesn’t belong. 

Avoid placing your diffuser…

1. Close to Electronics

Oil and water can be a recipe for disaster regarding electronic devices. In fact, using a diffuser too close to electronics can cause internal moisture build-up or corroded parts. A dirty appearance or screen clouding is also possible. 

The airborne water droplets (mist) settle as the diffuser disperses the oil. They can build up inside electronic components, like laptop USB ports and console vent openings. 

This can cause short-circuiting or permanent damage. Any metal exposed to this water/oil combo may begin to corrode (or rust).

Oil on its own can also be corrosive and damage electronic devices. Some oils — like those that are citrus-based — contain compounds that can physically damage some metals and plastics. 

The oil residue can attract more dust and airborne debris when it settles on devices. This can cause a build-up of dust on moving parts (like cooling fans) or block sensors. 

Your phone isn’t completely safe, either. Some oils will interact with the protective coatings on these screens and cause clouding or deterioration. In all of these scenarios, the risk for damage is much higher with prolonged, long-term contact with the oil. 

Keep diffusers at least 3–4 feet away from the following devices:

  • Computers
  • Laptops
  • Televisions
  • Monitors
  • Smartphones
  • Tablets
  • Stereo systems
  • Speakers
  • Gaming consoles
  • Routers
  • Modems
  • Smart home devices

2. Near Open Windows or Fans

Like an essential oil diffuser, fans and windows can make a room smell better. An open window can increase the air exchange rate — or how quickly the old air in a room is replaced with new air. On the other hand, fans can increase circulation in a room, mixing fresh and smelly air together until the odor fades. 

However, fans, windows, and diffusers don’t mix.

When you put a diffuser near a fan, the rapid air movement spreads the fragrance to all corners of the room. However, excess airflow can reduce the scent concentration and make it less noticeable. 

An open window creates similar issues. Since breezes and wind gusts are often unpredictable, the intensity and throw of the fragrance largely depend on the weather. The constant flow of new air can also quickly dilute the oil’s fragrance.

With both, the air (and the scent it carries) can travel further due to more airflow. It’s just that the fragrance is so well-dispersed and watered-down that it may fade quickly. 

3. In Direct Sunlight

Direct sunlight can damage both diffusers and essential oils. 

When exposed to sunlight for long stretches, the diffuser’s plastics and rubbers may begin to degrade. The UV rays can make them brittle, discolored, or warped and risk permanent device damage. 

Electronic components may begin to overheat. And devices that rely on sensors (like auto-shut-off) could malfunction.

essential oil set stored in cool, dry place
An essential oil set stored in a cool, dry case

Essential oils are also sensitive to light and heat and are best stored in a cool, dry place. Their naturally dark glass bottles only foster negative reactions when exposed to sunlight. Dark glass absorbs heat quickly, and the sealed bottle creates a miniature greenhouse effect — it gets hotter. 

Oils stored in sunlight may chemically degrade, lose their scent, or alter their therapeutic benefits. 

4. In Small, Unventilated Spaces

High air circulation isn’t ideal for diffusers, nor is too little. Diffusing essential oils in a tight space with little airflow will produce a less-diluted fragrance. The diffuser will continue misting new oil with no “new air” to dial it back. 

The scent may be sickeningly powerful and cause headaches or dizziness. In severe cases, this is a symptom known as osmophobia — an extreme sensitivity to smells common in those with migraines. 

One study found that indoor pollution caused by essential oils may increase the risk of cardiopulmonary events. However, that was only visible in those who diffused 1+ hours daily.

The build-up of oil in the air and nowhere for it to go also means higher odds of stained surfaces and oil residue. 

We dilute essential oils in water because they’re too concentrated to provide therapeutic benefits. Keeping your diffuser in a tight space, like a small bathroom with no vents or a shut closet, can produce an aroma that’s much too powerful. 

5. Where Children + Pets Hang Out

Even when diluted properly, essential oils can be toxic or harmful to pets and children. Both can be exposed to oils via mouth, direct skin contact, or inhalation (i.e., a diffuser). 

According to VCA Animal Hospitals, all it takes is a few licks for a dog to be at risk. A dog’s mouth and skin can rapidly absorb the chemicals found in essential oils.

In mild cases, oil exposure can cause gastrointestinal upset and burns in the mouth, and nervous system effects are also possible. In severe cases, dogs can suffer essential oil poisoning, requiring immediate treatment.

According to Johns Hopkins, children are at higher risk for negative reactions to oils due to their potency. These oils can be toxic if swallowed and cause skin irritation. Some oils — like peppermint — can also cause seizures in very young children (<30 months).

Keep your diffuser out of reach of children and pets. If either can tug on the cord, spill the diffuser, or open it, there’s a risk of an accident and possible health effects. Spilled oils can also damage floors and furniture (i.e., stains, stripped finishes, degraded plastics, etc.).

6. Right Next to Beds or Workspaces

If you decide to put your diffuser in your bedroom or office, avoid putting it too close to your bed or desk. The reason is simple: the closer you are to the device, the more concentrated a smell you’ll inhale. Long-term exposure to strong scents can cause side effects — like headaches, dizziness, and nausea.

Diffusing “stimulating” oils like peppermint or rosemary near your bed can make it harder to fall asleep or relax. Even “relaxing” oils — like lavender — can be so overwhelming in high concentrations that it impacts your sleep quality.

In the office setting, a strong aroma can be distracting, reducing concentration and productivity and making it hard to focus on tasks.

Place the diffuser further away to tone down the aroma, or use fewer drops of oil.

7. In High Traffic Areas

Diffusers in high-traffic areas are destined to be knocked over by pets, kids, and even adults. If the filled diffuser spills, it can create a slip hazard and potentially damage furniture and floors if not cleaned up promptly.

Too much foot traffic may also impact how well the mist disperses through the space. The wind kicked up by people walking can spread the scent quickly. But it’s also possible that the scent throw will be inconsistent; some areas will have heavy scents while others have none at all.

A larger space and more air movement also mean more essential oils needed to maintain a consistent aroma. This can lead to oil wastage long-term.

Final Thoughts

When deciding where to put your essential oil diffuser, choose places where you can smell it, it can add to the ambiance in the room, and it doesn’t get in the way. The best place to put a diffuser is on a shelf or table that isn’t near electronics, exposed to direct sunlight, or anywhere where a child or pet can knock it over.

Did you know that the type of water you put in your diffuser can impact it’s performance? Learn more in my post: Can You Use Tap Water in a Diffuser? [+ 5 Better Options].