The ultimate scents to turn your bathroom into a mini-spa, according to fragrance experts

The experts reveal how to keep on top of any odorous smells while producing a relaxing atmosphere

White bathroom with bathtub and black rolling storage
(Image credit: Future PLC / Dominic Blackmore)

Bathrooms can be our private sanctuaries but they are also one room in our homes where certain smells can linger. If you’ve got a spot of relaxation planned or an extensive everything shower, the last thing you’ll want to be met with is an unpleasant smell. Honestly, nothing will ruin a luxury bathroom idea faster.

The best fragrance for a bathroom should be relaxing, but it is also a space ‘you want to focus on neutralising unpleasant odours,’ says interior design expert at, Ryan McDonough.

It’s also a room where ‘less is always more, especially in smaller bathroom spaces,’ he continues. And we have to agree. Which are the best home fragrances for a bathroom? Keep reading to find out.

The best fragrances to scent your bathroom

Whenever you choose a fragrance for a room in your home, it’s important to consider what kind of feeling or atmosphere you are looking to evoke. From scentscaping your hallway to picking the perfect scent or scents for small kitchens or living rooms, many of us will be keen to replicate a spa-like environment in our bathrooms.

You’ll also want to ‘think about how you want to feel while going about your day and night routines,’ says Tajinder Banwait, Founder and Managing Director at Urban Apothecary London.

Depending on whether you’re scenting a large family bathroom or a small downstairs loo, there are a few fragrance combinations that work particularly well to make your bathroom smell good all the time, while simultaneously masking unpleasant odours.

1. Fresh cotton and linen

If you’re looking for a clean, neutral scent, fresh cotton or linen is a great choice. If you have a guest bathroom which visitors to your home primarily use, opting for this type of fragrance makes it a pleasant and inoffensive experience that won't be too jarring or bold for guests. 

It will instantly remind them and you of warm fluffy towels and fresh linen brought in from the washing line.

‘It’s one of my favourite scents as it works just about anywhere and always leaves a room smelling super fresh and clean,’ says Ryan.

2. Eucalyptus and rosemary

‘If you are looking to create a relaxing, spa-like atmosphere, eucalyptus and rosemary work very well,’ according to Ryan. They’re fragrances that are routinely used in spa treatments, making them perfect for relaxing and unwinding as we take a bath or enjoy some me-time.

‘The citrus and honey notes create a crisp and fresh atmosphere perfect for relaxing,’ concurs Peter Clayton, bathroom expert at Trade Plumbing.

3. Jasmine and light florals

'Scents like jasmine are commonly used in massage oil and support relaxation,' says Lucy Outram, Home Fragrance Buyer at M&S Home. 'These lovely fresh scents are best placed in the bathroom to create a spa-like feeling; dim the lights, light your candle, turn on a meditative playlist and unwind in the bathtub.'

And ‘if you’re someone who enjoys the smell of fresh flowers, floral scents can work well in the bathroom,’ according to Ryan. ‘There are so many different options when it comes to floral scents so it’s much easier to find something that works for you.’

Peony, rose, lavender and lilacs are all great florals to look out for when picking out a flowery fragrance for your bathroom. You want your floral scent to be sweet and fresh instead of heavy and overwhelming.

How to deal with particularly odorous smells

There are some simple bathroom tasks which make good common sense, such as not leaving damp towels lying around and cracking the window open to let in some fresh air, if you can. But in smaller bathrooms, en-suites and cloakroom-style bathrooms, this can be more difficult, especially if there isn’t a lot of space for fresh air to circulate.

‘If the objective is to remove malodorous/persistent smells it's likely that sprays/aerosols would be the best option,’ according to Bloo’s Brand Manager Halil Dogan. You could even try something like a bathroom deodoriser to mask certain smells after you flush. Aesop’s Post-Poo Drops include the same floral, fresh scents that we recommend, along with a hint of citrus to discreetly mask any smells emanating from your toilet itself.

Tiled neutral bathroom with navy bathtub and storage units

(Image credit: Future PLC/Julia Currie)


Are there any fragrances that should be avoided in bathrooms?

Fragrance is very much a subjective choice. But there are some things to bear in mind when you go about choosing one for your bathroom.

‘Make sure the fragrance you choose isn't too heavy or powerful as this can be overwhelming in a small bathroom and make the space feel cramped,’ Peter suggests.

‘Traditionally household cleaning products for bathrooms would focus on pine or lemon aromatics as these are powerful at disguising odours. However, they are now associated with cheaper ‘household’ fragrances and, for this reason, are often avoided by consumers when selecting luxury home fragrances,’ outlines ESPA’s Head Of Technical Innovation, Kristal Bull.

Should I opt for a candle or reed diffuser or even an oil burner in a bathroom?

Our bathrooms will be unattended most of the time, especially if it is a downstairs toilet cloakroom, for example. So, it’s not particularly wise to leave a lit candle burning as it can pose a safety risk. A reed diffuser, on the other hand, can be a great fuss-free way to fragrance a bathroom, especially smaller bathrooms. They also serve as a nice decorative feature too.

As they can last anywhere from three to six months, you can essentially leave the reed diffuser to do its thing. Just remember to rotate the reed sticks every so often to get the most out of your chosen fragrance.

You could also opt for a room spray, which will allow you to fragrance the space as and when you need to. Instead of immediately picking up a traditional air freshener, which can sometimes be a bit too strong for small spaces, a room spray will even allow you to refresh towels, bath mats and even shower curtains, as well as the room more generally.

And when it comes to using candles, lighting one when you take a soak in the bath will not only add a lovely fragrance to the room but the candlelight can also add a beautiful ambience as you lie and relax. This would be the one time that we would recommend choosing a candle, just as long as you remember to blow it out when you leave the room. The same can be said for oil burners.

Ellis Cochrane

Ellis Cochrane has been a Freelance Contributor for Ideal Home since 2023. She graduated with a Joint Honours degree in Politics and English from the University of Strathclyde and between her exams and graduation, started a lifestyle blog where she would share what she was buying, reading and doing. In doing so, she created opportunities to work with some of her dream brands and discovered the possibility of freelance writing, after always dreaming of writing for magazines when she was growing up.

Since then, she has contributed to a variety of online and print publications, covering everything from celebrity news and beauty reviews to her real passion; homes and interiors. She started writing about all things homes, gardens and interiors after joining Decor & Design Scotland as a Freelance Journalist and Social Media Account Manager in 2021. She then started freelancing at House Beautiful, Country Living and in Stylist’s Home team. Ellis is currently saving to buy her first home in Glasgow with far too many Pinterest boards dedicated to her many design ideas and inspirations.