Air Purifier Vs. Diffuser (Breaking Down The Differences)

  • Author: Irene Batres
  • Date: March 29, 2023
  • Time to read: 6 min.
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If the air in your home is stale and stuffy and you want to improve it, you certainly have options to choose from.

This includes both an essential oil diffuser and a quality air purifier.

You’re not alone if you’re unsure how these two items differ.

The fact is, both diffusers and purifiers are great to have around the home, yet they serve two completely different functions.

Learning the differences between an air purifier vs. diffuser is the first step to determining which one is right for you, so let’s go over a few of those differences now.

Air Purifier Versus Diffuser: Comparison Table

The main difference between an air purifier and an essential oil diffuser is that one cleans the air, and the other releases aromatic scents into the air. Another difference is that an air purifier has a HEPA filter to remove allergens, while a diffuser does not.

To demonstrate how air purifiers are similar or different from a diffuser, here is some additional information:

Air PurifierDiffuser
Alternate nameAir cleanerAroma lamp
Main purposeTo clean the airTo make the air smell better
Additional items needed?NoYes – essential/scented oil
AdvantagesGreat for people with allergies, asthma, and so onGreat for relaxing, eliminating stress, and so on
DisadvantagesIt can cause throat irritation in some peopleSome people are allergic to certain oils

What Is A Diffuser, And How Does It Work?

HealthSmart Essential Oil Diffuser, Cool Mist Humidifier and Aromatherapy Diffuser with 500ML Tank Ideal for Large Rooms, Adjustable Timer, Mist Mode and 7 LED Light Colors, White

A diffuser is a device that holds water and a few drops of essential or scented oil.

Essential oils are undiluted; therefore, you only need a few drops.

Scented oils are sometimes blends. Diffusers work either by plugging them in or lighting a candle at the base of the diffuser, which warms up the water and then allows the scent to permeate the air.

As long as the diffuser is turned on, the room will be scented with a nice pleasant aroma.

Do Diffusers Purify Air?

Diffusers do not purify the air, and they make the air smell better.

Nothing in a diffuser targets and disposes of any type of pollen or other pollutants. Once the scented or essential oil is placed in the water inside of a diffuser, its sole purpose is to keep the air smelling at its best.

For air purification, you definitely need a high-quality air purifier.

Pros And Cons Of Diffusers

Some advantages of using a diffuser include the average price and the number of scents on the market.

Unless you want something super fancy or significant, you can usually get a good diffuser in the $10 to $20 range. Some diffusers also have LED lights for decoration and attractive designs.

When it comes to scents, you can find everything from lavender to citrus oils and eucalyptus to mulberry, to name a few.

The main disadvantage of a diffuser is that it does not purify indoor areas. Because of this, if you wish to have cleaner and healthier air, a diffuser will not work for you. Instead, you’ll need an air purifier.

What Is An Air Purifier, And How Does it Work?

LEVOIT Air Purifier for Home Allergies Pets Hair in Bedroom, H13 True HEPA Filter, 24db Filtration System Cleaner Odor Eliminators, Ozone Free, Remove 99.97% Dust Smoke Mold Pollen, Core 300, White

Air purifiers are made to clean and purifier indoor air.

Most of them have two or more filters, including a HEPA filter and a charcoal filter that removes bad smells. Air purifiers can attract and destroy all types of allergens, including pollen, dust, pet dander, cigarette smoke, and numerous others.

Unlike diffusers, which may or may not be turned off during the day, air purifiers are usually operated 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Air purifiers are beneficial for people who have allergies or other upper-respiratory problems.

Does An Air Purifier Cancel Out A Diffuser?

An air purifier does not cancel out a diffuser, and you can easily operate both devices simultaneously.

Remember that air purifiers and diffusers serve two completely different purposes, which is why you can operate them both simultaneously.

That being said, many people find that an air purifier cleans the air so well that you don’t need to put any scent into the room afterward.

After all, clean air always smells much better than dirty air.

Related Article: Can Essential Oils Go In An Air Purifier?

Pros And Cons Of Air Purifiers

The main advantage of an air purifier is that your indoor air not only smells better, but it’s much cleaner as well.

Air purifiers destroy pollutants instead of covering them up with a scent, which means they are no longer part of the air quality in your home.

Air purifiers also come in a wide selection of designs, colors, and even shapes.

The two main disadvantages of air purifiers is their price, which can be quite high depending on the type that you buy, and the fact that the filters can sometimes be a bit expensive and inconvenient to replace.

How Are Air Purifiers And Diffusers Different?

Which Is Better Air Purifier or Diffuser?

Purifiers and diffusers are different because their functions are different.

Remember that air purifiers clean the air of impurities and pollutants, whereas diffusers cover those impurities with a pleasant scent.

If you have allergies or other upper-respiratory problems, you’re better off with an air purifier. On the other hand, a good diffuser is recommended if you need a way to relax and feel better when you get home from work.

Depending on the oils you use, a diffuser can help you do these things and so much more because essential oils in particular, can be medicinal in nature.

Similarities Between An Essential Oil Diffuser And An Air Purifier

SimilaritiesEssential Oil DiffuserAir Purifier
Improving Indoor Air QualityYesYes
Reducing AllergensYesYes
Promoting RelaxationYesNo
Adding Aroma to the AirYesNo
Releasing Negative IonsSome ModelsSome Models
Boosting Immune SystemSome OilsNo
Easy to UseYesYes
Available in Different StylesYesYes
Can be Used in Multiple RoomsYesYes
Helps with Respiratory IssuesSome OilsYes

Both diffusers and air purifiers improve the air in certain ways.

Even though essential oils have medicinal purposes, they also make the air smell much nicer, which you’ll get when using a diffuser.

Even if you use regular scented oil and not essential oil, you’ll still be able to enjoy the pleasant aroma it provides.

Air purifiers usually make the air smell better as well, but they do this by removing tiny pollutants and debris from the air, which automatically cleans the air and therefore eliminates bad smells.

So when you think about it, both diffusers and air purifiers are great at making the air smell much nicer for everyone. 

Which Is Better – Air Purifier or Diffuser?

The only way to determine if an air purifier or diffuser is best for you is first to decide exactly what you’ll be using the device for.

If you have asthma, allergies, or breathing difficulties, an air purifier is needed.

This is because purifiers destroy 99.9% of pollutants such as pollen, dust, pet dander, etc. Because of this, the pollutants responsible for those breathing problems are eliminated so that you feel much better.

At the same time, if you love to add nice aromas into the air, especially those that might help you relax or destress after a hard day, you should consider getting a diffuser instead.

You can add essential oils to relax, gain more energy, and help with appetite problems if you choose the right oils, which are easy to find.

Both purifiers and diffusers serve important purposes; you have to decide which purpose is most important to you.

Final Thoughts

Air purifiers and diffusers are both high-quality devices that serve important purposes.

You can get one of these devices at a price that won’t break the bank, and you can even operate both simultaneously if you like.

Deciding which one is right for you depends on whether you want a unit that making the air smell better or one that will help cure what ails you.

Looking For Air Purifier Guides?

If you’re looking for more air purifier resources, consider checking out our other posts on air purifiers.


irene mills author of freshairdevices


Irene Batres is eager to help others create an indoor allergen-free home. She has years of experience testing out air purifiers, dehumidifiers, and other products designed to help with indoor air quality. Learn more about me.