This Tiny Device Makes My Home Smell Amazing 24/7

Photo: Courtesy of Aera.
If I'm being completely honest, there are a number of things conspiring to keep my house from smelling delicious First, there is my senile cat who eats the world's weirdest-smelling food and seems to take great pleasure in vomiting much of it up. Second, there are people — their feet, their armpits, the smell of stale cigarettes on their clothing, the barramundi a date insists on cooking without opening the windows. And third, there is the occasional mouse that will sneak into my basement during the colder months, expire, and — somewhat perplexingly — leave my whole home smelling like a mass grave in August until I find and dispose of it. Despite what it may seem, the message I'm trying to get across here is not actually, "Don't come to Sarah's house because it's a plague pit;" I'm simply trying to paint a picture of why scented cleaning products and diffusers have become a non-negotiable.
But, many of the diffusers on the market and their migraine-inducing "fall leaves but also, inexplicably, Jolly Rancher" scents aren't exactly what I'm hoping for in my home. And as a person who isn't letting internalized misogyny shame me into pretending I don't love pumpkin spice, I nearly vomited with seasonal excitement when I got the chance to review the Aera diffuser (and the brand's seasonal collection, including its Pumpkin Spice scent).

Aera Diffuser, $199 $119.40

Photo: Courtesy of Sarah Crow.
While visitors to my home may describe my personal decorating style as "unusual" or "macabre" or, as they run out the door, "a scourge on humanity," I'm actually quite particular when it comes to my interior decor. I was pleasantly surprised by the Aera diffuser's sleek aesthetic — it's just about six inches wide, minimalist in design, and can fit in with practically any type of decor without looking too obnoxious. Have a bunch of barn doors and big, rusty stars hanging on the walls of your home? Get an Aera. Have a space so icy and weird Kim Kardashian is beating down your door to learn your secrets? The Aera diffuser won't look out of place. Have no particular design aesthetic but don't want something that looks like a misshapen plastic flower sticking out of your wall or adorning your countertop? Aera's got you covered. Even the bottles the scents come in — which do have bright logos and designs on them — are almost entirely covered when in use, leaving only the sleek silver top visible.

The Scents

So far, I have tried two Aera scents and have had different levels of enjoyment from each. With my diffuser, I was sent the Pumpkin Spice scent, and let me tell you: It's not going to be a regular part of my home fragrance roster. While there is a distinct hint of pumpkin spice to the scent, the overwhelming note is butter to my untrained nose. And, personally, the thought of having a home that always smells like butter falls more squarely into the "Ree Drummond fever dream" category than the "desirable upgrade" one.
However, I also purchased the brand's Citrus scent, which I've found to be a very pleasant addition to my home. When used at one of the device's lower settings, it makes my kitchen (and, to a lesser degree, the adjacent rooms), smell like freshly zested lemons and limes but without the artificial notes I typically find present in most air fresheners. The result is a home that smells clean but not in a noxious-lemon-furniture-polish kind of way. It's a scent that I'll happily repurchase once the bottle I bought is done — based on the fact that it's mostly still full after a month of use (running it on a low setting for two or three hours a day), that won't be for a while.

What I'd Do Differently

My main point of contention with my Aera diffuser, somewhat humorously, is how well it works. I initially set up the diffuser in my rather small master bathroom and, even on the lowest setting, it was overpowering. This was especially true when using the Pumpkin Spice scent: If there's one thing I don't want to smell (or smell of) when I'm brushing my teeth or stepping out of the shower, it's butter. However, the buttery quality of the air was more attributable to human error than any problem with the device itself — the model I own is intended for large rooms, which my master bath is decidedly not.
I ended up putting the Aera in my kitchen, which is a significantly larger space (and which connects to four other rooms, providing more cross-ventilation than I have in my bathroom). On the third-lowest setting (and using the vastly less-buttery Citrus scent), I found that the fragrance was light and pleasant and not at all akin to the olfactory equivalent of being trapped inside a pie crust as it's being made.

The Verdict

More than a beautifully prepared green bean casserole or a drunken fight over not giving your parents grandkids in this economy, perhaps the greatest gift you can give your guests this holiday season is a home that smells clean — even if those baseboards haven't been dusted since Reagan was in office. And with the holidays on the horizon, you can become the favorite child when you nab one for the more deserving members of your family, too.
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