What’s The Best Place To Put An Essential Oil Diffuser? What You Need To Know

Essential oil diffusers are a great way to improve your quality of life and relax. There’s something really special about enjoying a natural, relaxing scent filling a room anytime you like.

When getting started with mine I had to learn the basics. I’d love to help you by sharing what I’ve learned along the way.

I’ve put together a great post packed with info and facts about aromatherapy (essential oil) diffusers. I’ll also answer your main question: What’s the best place to put an essential oil diffuser?

Where should you put an essential oil diffuser?

The truth is that there really isn’t a “perfect” place to put them. However, there are some basic guidelines that can help and will work for nearly everyone.

Essential oil diffuser placement tips
  • Although you can use them on a floor, placing them at least 2 feet above the floor is ideal, similar to humidifiers
  • Bedroom: Placing your diffuser a few feet from your bed is recommended. A minimum of 3 feet or so is good
  • Don’t put your diffuser where it will be constantly exposed to sunlight (Ex.: near a window)
  • Avoid placing it on top of or very close to wooden surfaces subject to moisture or water damage. A tray or other water-resistant cover underneath it can prevent problems from mist droplets or spilled water
  • A non-metallic, level surface is ideal. Do not place on carpet or similar surfaces that can become damp
  • For best results, place your diffuser closer to the center of the room or even to one side, where ever convenient (this is a “nice to have” recommendation and not essential)

As I mentioned above it’s definitely best to keep them away from wood surfaces (or use a material underneath them to protect the wood).

Based on my personal experience I can say it’s very easy to spill water during everyday maintenance & use. You also don’t want stray water falling on your favorite furniture.

It seems like every other time I refill my diffuser’s water tank some droplets get on my shelf.

Diagram – Basic ideas for where to put your diffuser

Diagram showing recommended placement for an essential oil diffuser

Shown: A simple diagram showing examples of where to put your aromatherapy (essential oil) diffuser. While it’s not “critical” to follow these by any means, they’re a good rule of thumb to follow. I recommend keeping your diffuser several feet from your bed on a good, flat surface above the floor. It should be a surface that won’t be harmed by water droplets or spills. Additionally, it’s a good idea to keep the unit a few feet from your bed as well.

As shown in the diagram I’ve provided, here are some good basic rules of thumb for where to put your diffuser:

  • Out of direct sunlight such as near a window
  • Several feet from your bed or where you sleep (use 3 feet or more as a rule)
  • 2 feet or more above the floor
  • Away from furniture or other items that can be affected by water

These are just the basics “at a glance.” Read on and I’ll add more detail as we go.

Should a diffuser be on the floor or a table?

Image showing essential oil diffuser placement on a floor or table guide

You can put your diffuser on either a table or the floor. However, at least about 2 feet from the floor is best. Your essential oil diffuser’s vapor mist will distribute evenly within your room over time. Additionally, both they and I recommend you don’t use them alone without something to protect the surface from spills or water droplets.

Placing your essential oil diffuser at least 2 feet above the floor is ideal. If you’re wondering why it’s because they’re actually smaller versions of cool mist humidifiers which manufacturers recommend be placed at least 2 feet above the floor.

That’s because as they work, humidifiers and diffusers create and output water vapor that doesn’t rise the same way as others. For best results they need to be placed higher in the air.

If placing it on a shelf, desk, or some type of table, be sure it’s stable and not prone to accidents. You definitely don’t want anyone accidentally tipping yours over so be careful where you put it!

Protect against stray water

Much like humidifiers, it’s best to use them with some type of tray or protective material underneath them. That way you’ll be sure to avoid problems from spilling water or water droplets produced by the output nozzle.

In my personal experience, it really depends on the particular design and operation of the one you’ve bought. Some are messier than others when it comes to how easy they are to spill and if they produce random water droplets that can fall on your furniture.

Use water-safe surfaces or protective material

As not everyone has a water-resistant table to use, find an item that’s water-resistant to cover the area around your diffuser. Pick one that’s large enough to cover the area around it by about 1/2 foot to 1 foot in size as a rule.

Yes, you can use a diffuser on the floor if you need to. They’ll still work well but not nearly as efficiently for filling your room with scent, so I would recommend against it.

If at all possible raise them above the floor as I recommended above.

Either way, don’t use them on the carpet. Carpet is notorious for allowing water to become trapped and build up over time, potentially leading to more problems.

Keep them out of direct sunlight

Diagram drawing warning against placing essential oil diffuser near a window

Don’t place your diffuser near a strong source of sunlight and heat like a window. Sunlight and warmth encourage algae and bacterial growth, a common problem found in containers of water. The best place is one that’s in a cool place without too much sunlight.

As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, don’t place your oil diffuser in direct sunlight such as near a window. Sunlight and warmth create a great breeding ground for the build up & growth of nasties such as algae and bacteria.

You definitely don’t want that!

Keeping it clean

Depending upon your water supply you may need to clean out your diffuser’s water tank occasionally. To do so, clean the water tank with a mixture of white vinegar and water using a soft cloth to wash the inside surfaces.

Don’t use detergent to clean it.

I get really good results using white vinegar (recommended by manufacturers) to clean not only my humidifiers but my aromatherapy diffuser too.

Will a diffuser keep you awake at night?

Clip art image of man sleeping in bedroom with essential oil diffuser

When it’s time for bed, sometimes it’s best to have your diffuser placed a bit further away from your bed. Although they won’t harm anything nearby (aside from wood surfaces I mentioned earlier), it’s better to put them where the vapor mist and aroma are distributed better. Also, some diffusers make a very small amount of noise. If you’re a very light sleeper (like me) that might be enough to wake you up.

Heavy sleepers aren’t going to have problems waking up when using their essential oil diffuser overnight. However, if you’re a light sleeper like I am it’s possible the occasional very slight bubbling and “gurgling” sound some make might interrupt your rest.

For example, my personal bedroom aromatherapy diffuser has a distinct electric motor sound I can hear if it’s too close. Additionally, there’s a very slight bubbling effect I can hear.

Those noises are typical for smaller units but aren’t only found in small models. In fact, it really depends on the brand and design – some make similar noises on a bigger scale just like humidifiers do.

Generally speaking, though, most essential oil diffusers have a whisper-quiet operation and aren’t very likely to disturb your sleep.

My advice is to go ahead and place yours a few feet from your bed just to avoid issues.

What are essential oils?

Diagram showing examples of essential oils used in diffusers

Essential oils are used in small machines powered by electricity to offer aromatherapy benefits. In other words, they release scented oils into a room by producing a super-fine water vapor containing the oil molecules. Essential oils are derived from the liquid form provided by many plants and fruits found in nature. A natural, scented pure oil is extracted and placed in small containers for diffuser use.

Essential oils are concentrated liquids taken from plants, fruits, and herbs found in nature. They’re extracted from a variety of herbs & plants with known benefits such as eucalyptus, lavender, orange, lime, cinnamon, myrrh, and many more.

The liquid is extracted by a process called distillation. The result is a product that’s able to easily evaporate at room temperature (also called hydrophobic).

Why are they called “essential” oils?

They’re called “essential” because they keep the natural essence (the natural properties and scent) of the plant they’re derived from. Unlike other oils you may have used before, they usually can evaporate without leaving a residue or oil behind.

Also, unlike many products you by they’re not simulated using chemicals or synthetic derivatives. They’re about as close as you can get to having the real plant source in your own room!

In most cases, we buy essential oils for aromatherapy in small vials made of glass or plastic. These oils are very efficient at making scents in a room. Normally only a few drops are needed each time.

While they’re not as cheap as some chemical-based scents you can buy, in reality, they’re a really good deal! That’s because when you break down the cost vs the amount of use you get they’re still a good value.

How does an essential oil diffuser work?

Illustrated diagram of how essential oil aromatherapy diffuser works

Shown: A diagram showing how an essential oil diffuser works. Diffusers are a type of cool mist humidifier that convert water stored in the holding tank into a fine water vapor that’s released into the air. By adding a few drops of oil to the water, the oil mixes with it and when released as water vapor it fills the room with a pleasant scent of your choice. Most sold today use an ultrasonic electronic device to convert water into vapor.

Essential oil diffusers work by using electricity to power a water vaporizer (also called a nebulizer) and turn water into a fine mist.

The mist rises into the air and carries evaporated essential oil with it.

Diffusers are a different type of cool mist humidifier as they work on the same principle: they turn water into a super-fine mist that rises into the air and fills a room. They’re different, however, in their features, style, mist production, and water capacity.

In fact, they’re so similar that some cool mist humidifiers include an essential oil tray as an option.

Image of cool mist humidifier essential oil tray example

Shown: As they work the same as diffusers, some cool mist humidifiers include an essential oil tray feature.

Cool mist humidifiers vs essential oil diffusers

There are a few differences between the two, however. Here are a few to know:

  • Diffusers are available with a smaller water capacity and are more ideal for smaller rooms. Humidifiers often come with a much later water tank.
  • Essential oil diffusers are more likely to be offered with decorative features like LED night lights or accent lighting. Some also have a more stylish outward appearance (Unlike humidifiers which are more practical in design)
  • Cool mist humidifiers often offer an adjustable mist output. Many standard essential oil diffusers do not, or offer 1 to 3 fixed output level options.

How to use essential oils with a diffuser

Image showing how to add drops of essential oil to a diffuser

Diffusers are really easy to use & keep up! That’s one reason I’m such a big fan of them. Add oils by carefully placing a few drops (usually around 2-3 or so) into the water reservoir after filling it. The cover is then placed over it before turning the unit on. Once it starts working you should smell the scent very quickly.

The great thing about them (and one reason I recommend them to many people) is that they’re really easy to use and maintain.

To prepare an essential oil diffuser, water is poured into the diffuser’s cup or tank then a few drops (about 2-3 drops typically) of aromatherapy (essential) oil are added.

Since most oils are concentrated it doesn’t take much. They’re very efficient at adding a noticeable scent throughout a room.

Getting your diffuser started is simple

After filling it with the recommended amount of water and adding essential oil the cover is placed over the top. The unit is then turned on and the diffuser begins working immediately.

Water moves through the nebulizer quickly and rises inside the cover, escaping silently through a small vent. At the same time, the water supply is agitated a bit to help mix the oil with the water.

As it runs the result is a very fine mist that resembles the look of smoke. However, it’s just a harmless, cool water mist with a wonderful scent added.

Grant Williams

About the author

Grant is a professional engineer by trade and has experience with both maintenance and do-it-yourself home projects. He enjoys sharing his expertise & ideas with others to help them improve their comfort and quality of life. Read more »

Your comments are welcome!

  1. Thank you for the information on placement of a diffuser! We have wood floors, and I was concerned the oil/water mist would damage the floors.


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