In Spenny vs Penny we compare the products we love, with those following in their (often pricey) footsteps. Are they worth the cash? Here, we try to find the best reed diffusers – an alternative to candles, perfect for making your home smell nice but with absolute minimal effort from you – trying each product out for a week to see the results.
Spenny: Lime And Bay Reed Diffuser, The White Company, £27
The White Company website promises the scent of this reed diffuser will be like “stepping into a tropical garden”, and with the rain currently lashing down outside and the heating turned up on full blast, I’ve never needed a marketing promise to be more true. I can’t wait to get it unboxed.
It certainly delivers on punch – I’ve strategically positioned the diffuser in my hallway so it’s the first thing you smell when you step into the house. Initially my (non-expert) nose can smell mostly lime, ginger and a bit of bay but as time passes it seems to be just a more generic ‘nice’ scent. Friends who come to visit even comment on the smell, which I take to be a compliment not a veiled insult.
Appearance-wise, it looks the part too: a small glass jar with a silver collar and white reeds. It’s minimal and effortlessly chic – not words I usually use to describe my home or myself for that matter. But would I pay £27 for the pleasure?
The brand promises around three months of use, which if we say is 90 days, is maybe justifiable. But do any of the cheaper ones measure up?
Penny: Lime Basil And Mandarin Reed Diffuser, Aldi, £3.99
It’s no secret where Aldi got its aesthetic inspiration from here – the cream box, the black ribbons, the calligraphy worthy of a wedding invitation. The Jo-Malone-esque vibe is filling me with confidence early on. But like all things that promise a lot up front, I worry I’ll be shortchanged down the road.
After placing the White Company diffuser in the hallway I decide to give Aldi a clean slate, somewhere to mark its own scent, like an overly territorial dog in the park. I choose to place it by our bedroom window next to my favourite plant. I then have a brief panic and had to Google ‘can lime scent kill plants’ but am reassured by my partner and get into bed.
The next morning we wake up to the most delightfully nuanced smell moving around - like bacon wafting through the house, but more vegan friendly. Admittedly our heads are less than five feet away from it, but regardless. The White Company diffuser you noticed most when you came into the house this was continuously noticeable even when you’re in a different room.
As the week goes by I notice the scent less but I’m going to attribute this to just getting used to it, rather than a fault with the product. For £3.99 I would definitely buy again, although given the number of positive reviews on its website I might struggle to get my paws on one.
Penny: Lime Basil And Mandarin Reed Diffuser Set, Asda, £7
Okay so this might seem a lot more pricey when you compare it to the Aldi option, but the Asda reed diffuser comes in a gift box set with a candle of the same scent, which is great if you ask me.
Although I wouldn’t put both items in the same room (I’ve only used the diffuser so far not the candle) if you want the smell throughout your house it’s a nice way to achieve that without having reed diffusers everywhere. And the scent did last for the week. Unlike Aldi I kept noticing it every day when I got home from work.
Asda says you’ll get eight weeks out of it although I’m not quite buying that, and in comparison to Aldi maybe the scent is a little more synthetic, which isn’t ideal. But honestly by this point in the test it’s so hard to tell what I’m smelling – the walls of my house smell like they’re made of limes.
Asda does of course get bonus points for the delightful copper lid on the candle and the minimal indication anywhere on the box that it is from Asda. It seems I’m fickle and easily won over by appearances. Overall this was a great step up from the Aldi diffuser if you’re looking for a gift rather than buying for yourself.
Penny(ish): Bloom Collection Mandarin and Lime Basil Diffuser, Superdrug, £7
Given this is the same price as the Asda set - which I justified to myself as it had a candle and a reed diffuser in the box - this seems pricey. Not to mention the diffuser has the unmistakeable Superdrug star logo printed on it in.
As we’ve already discussed I am all about the aesthetic so I turn it around to face the wall (don’t judge me) and hope people think it’s fancier than it is.
Like the other contenders I gave the product its own space (this time in the kitchen) so it will have to fight against food smells but I’m hoping it keeps the space fresh. The website promises four to six weeks of scent - around half of what its competitors promise - but already within a couple of days I’m struggling to detect anything from the bottle. Looks like four weeks might be a reach.
I wiggle the reeds around a bit in the hope of reinvigorating the oils (technical) but the next morning there is still nothing. I know this one had an extra job to overpower cooking smells but given it’s the worst value of the cheaper options, I would not purchase again.
The Superdrug diffuser is currently out of stock and due back in later this year. Other fragrances are available.