Can I Use Essential Oils in My Air Purifier?


If you’re an air purifier fan and a bit of an essential oil junkie like me, then odds are that you’ve wondered if you could put essential oils in your air purifier.

While it is not advised to put your essential oils on your air purifier’s filters, there are air purifiers that are made to be used with essential oils. These air purifiers include water-based air purifiers, also called air revitalizers and air washers, and you can also use essential oils in air purifiers that have sponges to hold the essential oils.

What are these two types of air purifiers? Well, I’m glad you asked.

Water Based Air Purifiers

US JACLEAN's Air Revitalizer might move a bit when it's on, but it's still my all time favorite water based air purifier.
US JACLEAN’s Air Revitalizer might move a bit when it’s on, but it’s still my all time favorite water based air purifier.

Water-based air purifiers are a type of air purifier that uses water as its primary means of filtering the air. These usually have a water basin on their base and a detachable top that has all the technology that makes the unit work.

Water-based air purifiers usually look like the picture on the left (I’ll try to update this with pictures of my own unit soon, no promises though!)

If you’d like to pick up the air purifier I use, and get three free fragrances with it, you can pick it up on Amazon here.

Water-based air revitalizers are really neat, but they do have their drawback–they aren’t as effective at cleaning the air as air purifiers with HEPA filters. Sure, they can do great at it, but they don’t hit the 99.97% air filtration for particles .3 microns and larger, like air purifiers like HEPA filters do.

For people who aren’t too worried about having the cleanest possible air and they just want a noticeable improvement in their home’s air quality, these can be a great choice. They are usually very cheap as well! If you’d like to read up some more on this particular type of air purifier, you can check out this article What is a Water Based Air Purifier? | The Pros & Cons of Water Air Revitalizers, I’ll have several other water-based air purifier posts that I’ve made linked at the bottom of this article, if you’d like to do a bunch of reading.

Normal Air Purifiers With a Fragrance Sponges

But, as I said earlier, there are other air purifiers that can work as oil diffusers. These other air purifiers include one that I recently picked up and have been testing. Air purifiers like the Levoit air purifier I got have something called a “fragrance sponge” but there aren’t a whole lot of those out there.

The fragrance sponge that comes with my Levoit air purifier is located on top. It’s hidden under a little plastic circle, which might have gone unnoticed if you bought this particular air purifier without knowing what all it could do.

I was skeptical about how well this type of air purifier would work for diffusing essential oils, but I tested it anyways. Honestly, my main hold up was the idea that the sponge would get dirty and stay dirt and get nasty after a while.

So far, this hasn’t been an issue, which is cool. If the fragrance sponge did ever get dirty, I can remove it and I’ll give it a good washing to get it presentable once more.

Word of the wise, though, be careful what essential oils you put in the sponge. Some essential oils are a lot stickier and sappier than others, so that could be an issue. Cedarwood oil, for example, was very sticky for me and made a mess. (I thought it smelled like cigarettes too.)

If you’d like to buy the Levoit air purifier I own, then you can pick it up from Amazon here.

Which Air Purifier is Better to Use With Essential Oils?

Now, both of these air purifiers are good at diffusing the scents that you put in them, but I must admit that I think that water-based air purifiers do the better job. However, the Levoit air purifier does do a better job at cleaning the air thanks to its HEPA filters.

Each air purifier has its pros and cons, so at the end of the day, its up to you to decide what you want.

And, before you make that decision, I will admit that I have not dumped a ton of essential oils into my Levoit’s fragrance sponge, so, in theory, it could do a pretty good job at oil diffusion. That being said, that is the strong point of the water-based air purifier I’ve tested, just a few drops quickly scented the whole room. I use twice as much oil in my Levoit air purifier and the scent is too subtle to sense from a few yards away.

So, at the end of the day, water-based air purifiers are better at diffusing essential oils than air purifiers that use HEPA filters, like my Levoit. But my Levoit cleans the air better than the water-based air revitalizer.

What Are the Best Essential Oils to Put in My Air Purifier?

Honestly, I think this question warrants a whole post of its own, so that’s on my docket of things to write about. There is SO much you can do with essential oils. You can go by what smells the best for you, what takes care of whatever you’re feeling, or whatever is cheapest. In fact, a lot of air purifiers can have perfumes and non-essential oil things get put in them and they’ll diffuse those scents too.

For me, I think my all-time favorite essential oil to use in air purifiers is about 7 drops of lemongrass and 5 drops of orange. Why? I love the smell. It smells 100% like Fruit Loops. It’s hard to smell without smiling.

Here’s a shot of my little guys with my Levoit air purifier (I just added more of the oils to the sponge).

Now, there are plenty of other great essential oils that you can put in your air purifier as well, here’s a list of my favorites:

  • Lemongrass
  • Orange
  • Lemon
  • Lavender
  • Peppermint

There are other essential oils, of course, but these are just my favorites. Here’s a warning, though, peppermint can be overpowering! Use it with caution, try just a few drops for your first time!

If you’d like to pick up some essential oils, you can order them on Amazon here. I buy my essential oils there, but I also pick them up at my local grocery store, WINCO, when they have them in stock (which is very unpredictable).

How Do I Put Essential Oils in My Air Purifier?

If you’re wondering how to add essential oils to your air purifier, then let me tell you up front: it’s a lot easier than you might think.

For water-based air purifiers, just add a few drops (I recommend 5-8 drops) of your essential oil of choice right into its water basin. The oils will get mixed into the water as it spins and the scent will be released slowly but surely. If you want a stronger scent, then just add a few more drops, I like the 5 to 8 range though.

If you’re using an air purifier with a fragrance sponge, then things get a tiny bit harder. All you need to do is locate the fragrance sponge, for me, that’s right on top of my air purifier.

Once you’ve found it, you can choose to remove it to add your essential oil (a good choice if you spill), or you can add the essential oil to it right where it is.

If you choose to put on your essential oils when the sponge is in the air purifier, then be super careful, it’s not good for the air purifier if you spill oils into it.

Either way, I like using more essential oil in these air purifiers than in my water-based air purifier. I don’t know the science behind it, but I can confidently say that the water-based units can do more with less oil. For me, I add about 12-15 drops of essential oils to my air purifier’s sponge. Anything less than that just doesn’t make enough of a smell difference for me. (But don’t do quite that much if you’re using peppermint oil! Lol)

Should I Put Essential Oils on My Air Purifier’s Filter?

No! Do not put any oils or perfumes on the filters of your air purifiers, it could ruin them. If you would like to use essential oils in your air purifier, then you’ll have to get an air purifier that’s made for them. Most air purifiers are not, so don’t try to add essential oils to them.

If you do want to have an air purifier and essential oils being diffused, then you can do one of the following things:

  • Buy an air purifier and an oil diffuser (two separate machines)
  • Buy an air purifier that works as an oil diffuser (a water-based air purifier or an air purifier with a fragrance sponge)

That’s all of your choices. Please, don’t put oils on your filters, that could be a costly mistake!

I hope this post answered all your questions! If you’ve still got some, then you can check out some of the below articles, or you can browse my site for any of your questions!

How to Buy an Air Purifier

Do I Need an Air Purifier in My Bedroom?

How Much Does it Cost to Get Air Purifiers for Every Room of My Whole House?

Want to read more on water-based air purifiers? Check out these articles below!

What Does a Water Air Purifier Do? | The Surprising Benefits of Using Water as an Air Filter

What Is the Best Air Purifier That I Can Buy? | Water Based Air Purifier Buying Guide

Do I Need to Put a Towel Under a Water-Based Air Revitalizer? | What Can I Do to Keep My Water-Based From Moving?

How Well do Water-Based Air Purifiers Work?

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Jonathon Silva

Jonathan Silva is our longtime Air Purifier Essentials author. He has been writing on air purification technologies for his entire professional career.

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