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Reed Diffuser vs. Air Freshener: What’s the Difference? 

There are so many wonderful ways to make your home smell good. Nowadays, you can fill your home with almost any scent under the sun from vanilla to lemon. You could even make your home smell like freshly baked cookies without so much as looking at the oven.

Reed diffusers and air fresheners are two fantastic ways you can scent a space. At first glance, they may seem relatively similar, but in reality, they are two completely different products.

So, what’s the difference? And what should you know before purchasing them?

Keep reading to learn more!

Chains of bead diffusers

What is a Reed Diffuser?

A reed diffuser is typically a small-mouthed bottle filled with fragrance with 5 or 6 diffuser sticks in it. While a standard electronic diffuser emits well-perfumed must into a space, a reed diffuser offers a more subtle scent to a room.

A single diffuser can last several months without being refilled.

How Does a Reed Diffuser Work?

What is a Reed Diffuser

The diffuser sticks (or reeds) are integral to a well-functioning reed diffuser. The fragrance moves up the diffuser, eventually making its way to the top where it can gently move around a room.

The liquid inside can either be bought, or made at home from a mixture of carrier oil, essential oils, and high-proof alcohol.

Who Is a Reed Diffuser For?

Reed diffusers are perfect for people who don’t want their aromatherapy experience to be too overpowering. It’s also ideal for individuals on the go that don’t have time to clean an electric diffuser.

A reed diffuser should be wiped down periodically to avoid dust build-up, and the sticks should be flipped once to twice a week to keep things smelling fresh. That’s it!

What is an Air Freshener?

Most people have probably seen an air freshener tucked in the corner of someone’s bathroom. They are usually in aerosol cans and scented to smell light, fresh. Lemon and lavender are two popular air freshener scents.

The typical air freshener isn’t made with very natural ingredients, however, there are some more organic options on the market, too.

How Does an Air Freshener Work?

What is an Air Freshener

Air fresheners are filled with substances that convert from liquids to gases, which our noses are able to pick up more easily. As the gas molecules spread around a recently-sprayed room, the space begins to smell much more fresh and clean.

People like to use air fresheners in the bathroom, or in a space that smells a bit stuffy and needs a revamp.

Who Is an Air Freshener For?

This scent spray is great for people who want quick, efficient ways of spreading perfume around a room. Since air fresheners usually emit quite a strong fragrance, they are not for the fainthearted.

A good air freshener would be ideal for an individual living in a space that doesn’t have very many windows, especially in the bathroom where unwanted scents are commonplace.

Reed Diffuser vs Air Freshener Comparison Chart

Reed Diffuser

Air Freshener

Ease Of Operation

Easy

Easy

Key Features
  • Easy to set-up
  • Can last a long time
  • Completely silent
  • Very low maintenance
  • Chic looking
  • Many colors of reeds and bottles available
  • Reed diffuser fragrances are easy to buy
  • Easy to DIY
  • Quite safe
  • Not overpowering
  • No set-up required
  • No real maintenance
  • Completely silent
  • Doesn’t involve leaving anything out, perfect for people worried about aesthetics
  • Lots of scents available
  • Very accessible
  • Can mask unwanted scents well
  • Powerful aerosol bottle to spray scent around efficient
  • Possible to DIY
Materials
  • Aerosol bottle
  • Fragrances
  • Metal
  • Plastic
  • Essential oil (optional)
AffordabilityWide Range of PricesVery Affordable
SafetySafe as long as oil used is safe for pets/childrenShould not be used with pets in the room
Maintenance Wipe down dust, flip sticks once or twice a weekNo maintenance required
Customer ReviewsGenerally Very SatisfiedGenerally Very Satisfied

Key Benefits

What makes each product so great?

Reed Diffuser

Reed diffusers are superb aromatherapy options. Typically, a reed diffuser fragrance is designed to soothe and inspire individuals to relax, and that’s exactly what it does.

This non-electronic diffuser is incredibly effective at calming a space, and even increasing the oxygen levels in the muscles of people enjoying the scent. Tension is also relieved with the help of a reed diffuser.

It is important to stress that this kind of diffuser scents its surrounding area subtly. However, this is great for people who want to enjoy the benefits of an essential oil without triggering any sensitivities they might have.

We could go on all day about how fantastic essential oils are for the mind and body, and the reed diffuser is an understated method of enjoying those benefits.

Key Benefits

Air Freshener

The best thing an air freshener does is eliminate unwanted smells. You can even prevent unwelcome scents with automatic air fresheners that will eject a spritz of fragrance every 10 to 30 minutes.

An air freshener is not that different from a perfume. Most people enjoy a couple of sprays of perfume every morning to keep them smelling clean and fresh the entire day, and air fresheners do just that, except for your couch or bathroom.

You can also enjoy essential oils via an air freshener if you make your own or buy one with pure essential oils and natural ingredients in it. Just make sure to read the ingredients list carefully since the word ‘natural’ gets thrown around a lot these days but doesn’t actually mean much.

Quality/Materials

Most people who enjoy aromatherapy are concerned about the quality and materials in different scents. Here’s what you need to know about each product.

Reed Diffuser

Reed diffusers have become very mainstream, so not all reed diffuser liquids are natural. However, there are some good options out there, too.

It is very easy to make your own reed diffuser liquid at home, and we recommend going that route if you’re concerned about the quality of your aromatherapy.

At the same time, because reed diffusers are only distributing a very small amount of scent particles around a space at one time, we don’t feel the need to worry too much about how natural the liquid is. The reality is you won’t be inhaling very much of it.

Air Freshener

Air fresheners are not natural. At least the ones you can buy at the grocery store aren’t. Since the point of a good air freshener is to provide a quick solution to a stinky problem, most of them are fabricated to eject scent droplets efficiently.

Standard air freshener brands contain over 100 different ingredients in their products. However, DIY air fresheners are completely safe and have the added bonus of containing the great benefits associated with essential oils.

You can make an air freshener at home with water, essential oils, and maybe a bit of salt, baking soda, or high-proof alcohol.

DIY | Homemade Air Freshener With Essential Oils

No aerosol can? No problem! Just use a classic plastic (or glass) spray bottle. This is also the more eco-friendly option, so you’re killing two birds with one stone by taking a few minutes out of your day to throw this together.

Safety

There are safety concerns with both products that should be addressed. However, we believe that you can enjoy a reed diffuser and air freshener without any health risks as long as you keep a few things in mind.

Reed Diffuser

We have to talk about pets whenever there is any discussion about an essential oil product. Reed diffusers aren’t inherently dangerous, however, some essential oils may be harmful to your pets.

All animals, especially cats, are very sensitive to smells. What may seem like a pleasant scent to our noses might be wildly overpowering for their cute little nostrils.

Some essential oils, like lemon or orange oil, can poison your pet. This is why we always recommend doing some research before using a new essential oil.

We recognize that a reed diffuser doesn’t produce that much scent, so in theory, it shouldn’t be as dangerous. While we understand the logic behind this, the consequences just aren’t worth it.

Similar rules apply to babies and small children.

Talk to your vet and pediatrician to learn how you and your family can enjoy reed diffusers safely.

Air Freshener

Before we get into the potential safety issues attached to air fresheners, it’s important to explain that essential oil-based air fresheners do not have the same health concerns. We’re talking about typical, run-of-the-mill air fresheners.

Safety

Chemicals found in some (not all) air fresheners may be hazardous or toxic, especially to individuals with asthma or respiratory issues. Some air fresheners may also be harmful if they land on your skin while being sprayed around a room.

Inhaling these potent, chemically perfumes are also unsafe. So, if you’re using an air freshener, make sure to hold it at arm’s length while spraying. You should also be mindful of how much you’re using, especially if the room doesn’t get a lot of ventilation.

Recommended Products

Here are some of our favorite products!

Reed Diffuser

Craft & Kin Jasmine & Lily Scent Set

This natural essential oil reed diffuser comes in a reusable amber glass bottle and includes 8 rattan diffuser sticks. The diffuser is sophisticated yet discreet and will complement any living space.

One bottle of this reed diffuser scent will last three to four months, so you’re really getting your money’s worth.

Urban Naturals Eucalyptus & Sage Oil Reed Diffuser Refill

If you already have a great essential oil bottle at home, this reed diffuser will ensure you never spend a day without a gentle eucalyptus and sage scent. This fresh refill is perfect for small spaces like a bathroom.

Rose Essential Oil Reed Diffuser 

The best thing about this reed diffuser is that it smells like real roses. Why waste time and money on a freshly cut bouquet when this diffuser will last you months?

This would also make a wonderfully romantic gift.

Air Freshener

Caldrea Linen and Room Spray Air Freshener

This natural air freshener is very popular and lacks the chemical smell that comes with most commercial air fresheners. You can enjoy this spray in any space, but it also works well for sheets that need refreshing.

Grab Green Natural Room & Fabric Freshener

Made with naturally derived ingredients, this room and fabric freshener uses zinc ricinoleate to neutralize odors. One thing to note is that this product is not suitable for birds and cats.

Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day Room Freshener Spray

Made with essential oils, this lavender room spray is cruelty-free and easy to use. It has reeled in many returning customers with its light floral scent.

Customer Reviews

With any scented product

Customer Reviews

Reed Diffuser

Customers are generally very satisfied with reed diffusers. While some buyers were left disappointed with the gentle aroma reed diffusers disperse, others appreciated that this aromatherapy product isn’t meant to be overpowering.

Air Freshener

There are a lot of die-hard air freshener fans out there. People love being able to rely on an easy scent to keep their house smelling great. One thing to note is that more natural air fresheners aren’t as strong as the more commercial ones, so customers tend to finish the bottle quicker.

Here’s The Deal

Reed diffusers and air fresheners are entirely different. While simple reed diffusers offer long-term tender smells, air fresheners are speedy and strong.

If you can, we recommend trying to make both products at home. As long as you have water, essential oils, and some sort of high-proof alcohol, you are ready to become your own scent master.

There’s nothing more refreshing than knowing exactly what you’re smelling, especially when the whole process was just as easy (and arguably quicker) than skimming the shelves for hours on end.

Let us know which product you prefer! We’d love to hear if you’re a reed diffuser person or if you prefer air fresheners.

Stay safe and happy oiling!


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