Using an Oil Diffuser in Your Car

Written by Myles Nystrom and updated on December 10, 2016
Car essential oil diffuser

While some people only use a car on the odd occasion, for a large portion of us, commuting to work on a daily basis is the norm. And while I enjoy driving, sometimes, especially after a hard day’s work, driving can become a bit of a chore, making you feel even more tired than you already are.

But, other than invest in an autonomous car or chauffeur to take you wherever you need to go, how can you avoid getting drowsy when behind the wheel? By using a car oil diffuser, that’s how. Car oil diffusers are a step up from your average run-of-the-mill air freshener. As well as making your car smell nice, essential oil diffusers can help you feel more alert while driving.  

Why Use an Oil Diffuser in the Car?

As well as making your ride smell nice, there are several other benefits to using an oil diffuser in the car. Here are just some of the many health concerns that it can help with:


Certain essential oils, such as bergamot and ylang-ylang, are well known for their antidepressant qualities. Using these fragrances in an oil diffuser while driving can help combat negative thoughts and help lift one’s mood. 

Sinus relief 

If you’re someone who suffers from sinus problems, you may benefit greatly from using an oil diffuser in the car. Essential oils such as eucalyptus, rosemary, and peppermint all have natural healing properties that work wonders at providing sinus relief. 

Dry skin 

As well having a nice, sweet, smell, some essential oils such as peppermint and helichrysum are also good at moisturizing both the skin and lips. Just a few drops in your diffuser will help purify and humidify the air, leaving your skin and lips hydrated.


This is probably the number one reason of all as to why people use essential oils in the car. Driving requires your focus 100 percent of the time, and even then, mistakes happen. This can make some people nervous, causing them a great deal of anxiety while on the road.

Using essential oils like frankincense, and bergamot in your car diffuser can be very effective at calming one’s nerves. It’s particularly useful when you’re stuck in traffic or running late for an appointment.

Sore throat 

You probably wouldn't have even considered using an air diffuser to cure your sore throat in the past, but sure enough, essential oils such as cinnamon and eucalyptus can work wonders in this department. They’re also good at boosting the immune system on a whole. 

How to Choose a Good Oil Diffuser for Your Car

There are so many different essential oil diffusers out there for your car that it can be hard to know where to start when looking to buy one. However, the following list should help you along the way. Below are some of the main things to be aware of when shopping for a good oil diffuser for your car:  


Car diffusers vary in terms of the capacity of the tank, which in turn, will affect how long it diffuses for. If you’re someone who regularly does long journeys in the car then it may be worth opting for one that has a higher capacity.


Not all oil diffusers are quiet. In fact, some are pretty noisy and can be off-putting while driving. So if you’re someone who gets easily distracted by slight noises, then make sure you choose a diffuser that’s silent or as good as.


There are two main types of car diffusers: those that are ultrasonic and those that are nebulizing. Ultrasonic car diffusers use just a few drops of essential oils mixed with water in a tank. The way it works is by vibrating the mixture at a high frequency causing the micro-particles to disperse into the air.

A nebulizer diffuser is a little more advanced than the ultrasonic diffuser. It’s also more effective. With a nebulizer diffuser, no water is used. Instead, it uses pressurized air to break down the essential oil into microparticles in which to permeate the air. 


Car diffusers come in all kinds of shapes and sizes, which is good because so do car interiors. When shopping for a car diffuser you need to ensure you choose a model that’s not going to get in the way and stop you from getting to any of the car’s controls.

Some will plug straight into the car’s lighter socket while others may need to be connected via a USB cable and placed on a cup holder. If you’re someone who enjoys a cup of coffee during their daily commute, then the first option may be more suitable for you.

The Magic Behind Essential Oils

Ok, so it may not be magic as such, but essential oils do all have their own health benefits. The following is a list of some of the most commonly used oils and what they’re often used for:

  • Frankincense - Calming road rage; reducing anxiety
  • Pine - Calming road rage
  • Rosewood - Calming road rage
  • Ylang Ylang - Calming road rage; uplifting mood
  • Ginger - Car sickness
  • Orange - Car sickness; uplifting mood; increase energy
  • Peppermint - Car sickness; drowsiness; sinus relief; improve concentration
  • Rosemary - Reducing drowsiness; sinus relief; increases concentration
  • Eucalyptus - Reducing drowsiness; sinus relief; sore throat relief; boosts the immune system
  • Lemon - Increasing focus; reducing anxiety
  • Cinnamon - Increasing focus; sore throat relief; boosts the immune system
  • Cardamom - Car sickness

*Beware of using scents like chamomile and lavender while driving. While both of these do have very good calming abilities, they may also cause drowsiness, which is not what you want while trying to make your way home.

Top Tips

On the whole, using an oil diffuser in the car is a very pleasant experience that can help make every journey stress free. However, there are a few things to be aware of when using one:

  • Use the right oil to match your mood. For example, if you’re feeling car sick add a few drops of peppermint or ginger to the diffuser. Or, if you’re feeling particularly anxious, try adding a few drops of frankincense to help calm your nerves.

  • Be safe when storing your oils. Make sure you store your essential oils away from extreme temperatures. Never leave them in direct sunlight and don’t store them in plastic containers.

  • Less is more. When it comes to essential oils, it’s easy to forget how concentrated they are. Because cars have limited ventilation, just one or two drops of essential oil in your diffuser is plenty for you to feel the effects. Inhaling excess amounts of essential oils can have an adverse effect, causing headaches, nausea, and even vomiting.  

  • Don’t block your vision. Depending on the type of diffuser you opt for, will depend on where it needs to sit in the car. Make sure you consider this before making your purchases as the last thing you want to do os restrict your view while driving.

  • Limit diffusion time. While you may quite enjoy the constant smell of essential oils while driving, it is advisable to keep the diffusion time limited while in an enclosed space. Just remember that too much of anything is never good for you. 

  • Choose your mix carefully. You need to consider who’s going to be in the car with you when using your diffuser. The reason for this is because essential oils that are good for some may not be suitable for others.

Peppermint is very effective in relieving car sickness and drowsiness in adults but is too strong for young children. Anyone who intends on transporting pregnant women in their car should avoid using rosemary or wintergreen. Lastly, be sure to check with your passengers if anyone has any allergies before turning on the diffuser.


Now that you know a lot more about the many benefits of using an oil diffuser in the car, and what essential oils to look out for, we’re going to show you some of the most popular models out there at the moment and what makes them so good:

If you’re looking for an essential oil diffuser that’s high-quality, easy to use, and looks the part too, then the ZAQ Tour essential oil diffuser may be the perfect travel companion for you. It’s an ultrasonic type diffuser that has the capacity to hold 60ml of water and is made using BPA-free plastic.

ZAQ Tour Essential Oil Litemist Aromatherapy Travel Car Diffuser, Black/White, 1 Ounce

Available in a black and white, black, olive, or purple color option, I have to say it’s one the sleekest models I’ve seen. It fits neatly into most cup holders and because of its innovative design, it won’t tip over while driving. The thing I like most about this diffuser is that it’s so easy to use. Simply unscrew the top and pour in the water up to the fill line. Then add a couple of drops of your favorite essential oil and screw the lid back on. Plug it into the adapter (included), and away you go.

You have two settings to choose from with this diffuser, which is also a bonus. You can either have it misting continually or you can have it misting intermittently. The only bad point I could find is that the misting is quite light and doesn’t produce a very strong fragrance.

  • Available in 4 color options
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    Easy to use
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    2 misting options
  • Misting is light meaning fragrance level is low

The InnoGear USB Car Essential Oil Diffuser is one of the more funky models out there. As well as making your car smell amazing, this BPA-free diffuser has a 7 integrated color changing LED lights to help you lift your mood even more.

InnoGear USB Car Essential Oil Diffuser Air Refresher Ultrasonic Aromatherapy Diffusers with 7 Colorful LED lights for Office Travel Home Vehicle

It’s easy to use and is operated by easy-to-reach switch buttons. Like the Zaq Tour model, it too has two misting modes. One of the things that make this diffuser so popular is that it has an automatic switch off feature that turns the diffuser off when the water goes below a certain level. If diffusers continue to run without water they can become a fire hazard.

Designed to fit any cup holder, this diffuser will make a great accessory to your car. It’s easy to use, looks good, and is a decent price. Just be careful with the water fill line as it needs to be exact. Anything more and it will not function properly. It also gets quite warm so be sure to use it on the intermittent setting for best results.  

  • LED colors make a nice touch
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    Automatic switch off safety feature
  • Gets warm after a while on continual use

Every product has to have a number one, and in the world of car essential oil nebulizers, this is it! The Skey Touch Switch Pure Essential Oil Nebulizer is innovation in a can. Don’t let the fact that it looks like something that’s from 50 years in the future put you off as this is a great product.

Skey Touch Switch Pure Essential Oil Nebulizer Wireless &Waterless, USB Battery Operated Portable Aroma Diffuser 4000mah Built in Rechargeable 2ml for Home Party Car Office Travel Yoga Spa

Being a wireless nebulizer, there’s no water, wires, or power outlets to worry about. Simply charge it up using the USB cable provided and place it in your car’s cup holder. A full charge will take around 6-8 hours and lasts around 10 hours or so. It also has an auto shut off feature that will switch the device off after 2 hours use.

To use this nebulizer simply open up the upper lid and add 10-20 drops of your favorite essential oil. Then close the lid and press the power button and nebulizer open. There are integrated LED lights that let you know when the device is charging and when it’s ready to use.

  • LED lights let you know the status of the nebulizer
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    Up to 10 hours use from a single charge
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    No water needed
  • Expensive
  • Takes 6-8 hours to fully charge

With a pretty generous 70ml capacity, the Navy Penguin USB Aromatherapy Essential Oil Diffuser if the perfect choice for anyone who does a lot of traveling. Powered by USB, this diffuser has settings for 30, 60, 120, and 180 minutes which is ideal if you’re planning on doing any long journeys.

USB Aromatherapy Essential Oil Diffuser - 2.3 oz (70ml) Car Portable Mini Ultrasonic Cool Mist Aroma Air Humidifier - Office Desk Home Travel Baby Room Bedroom - 7 Color LED Lights and Timer

If you’re worried about safety, then don’t be as Navy Penguin have it covered with an automatic shut off function that kicks in when the water runs out. There are also 7 LED bulbs with 3 different color changing modes to suit your mood.

Although it fits in the car’s cup holder, it’s quite a lot smaller than some of the other diffusers out there and may slide around a little when in use. But, it’s easy to use, works well, and doesn’t cost a fortune. It even comes with a lifetime guarantee! What more do you want? 

  • 70 ml capacity
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    Timer settings
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    Auto safety feature
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    Lifetime guarantee
  • A little on the small side

If you’re looking for a decent essential oil diffuser for your car but are a little low on funds, then be sure to check out the TTStar Car Air Freshener Aromatherapy Essential Oil Diffuser. In this package, you get not one, but two fabulous diffusers that not only work well but look pretty too.

TT-Star 2PCS 30mm Car Diffusers Aromatherapy Essential Oil Diffuser Vent Clip - Cloud, Tree of Life Stainless Steel Locket

In addition to the air diffusers, you also get 10 refill pads that you can use for different essential oils. The way it works is you simply clip on the diffuser using the enclosed vent clips, turn on your fan, and wait for the lovely aromas to start filling the car. There’s no charging involved, no water to worry about, and it’s so easy to use.

The only real downside I can see with using these diffusers is that they’re quite small, so you can’t fit a great deal of oil on there and it does tend to get used up quite quickly. That being said, there are two of them, so if you double up and use them both together you get a very pleasant result. 

  • 2 pack
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    Comes with 10 refill pads
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    Great price
  • Pads dry quickly

We hope you found the above article and reviews useful and are now just about ready to make your purchase. If you’re still unsure as to which oil diffuser will be best for you, take another look at the Skey Touch Switch Pure Essential Oil Nebulizer. It looks the part, it works incredibly well, and there are no concerns about any wires getting in the way while you’re driving. Or, if you’re on a budget, the TTStar may be more suitable.