How to Use Your Essential Oils When You Don’t Like the Scent

It’s been two and a half years now that our family dove in and became oily. We have 5 diffusers. We use lots of oils for all manner of household and personal benefits. We’ve identified our favorites (Thieves, Christmas Spirit, Citrus Fresh, Valor) for scent and we’ve wrinkled our nose at some because they stink! Or so we thought.

These little drops of intense scent are just that. Intense. Concentrated. Powerful. And sometimes not all that pleasant. Waste not want not is the name of the game, and I’ve figured out ways to get good use out of all of my oils. Even the stinky ones.

How to Use Your Essential Oils When You Don't Like the Scent

Use the oil in a different way.

The scent of an essential oil when you sniff it straight out of the bottle is not always the way it smells on your body or even when diffused. I did not care at all for Stress Away out of the bottle, and really didn’t like it the first time I put some on like perfume as I had heard that so many people do. Therefore it sat unused on my shelf for months.

I’m a stubborn one, though, and I didn’t give up.  Epsom salt baths are one of my favorite methods of getting oily, so one night I thought, “Oh, why not?” and tried Stress Away in my bath. Love. It was perfect, and is now one of my favorite “unwind” scents.

If you don’t like the initial scent of a particular oil that others seem to rave about, give it a try using a different method.

  • Wear it in a diffuser necklace instead of directly on your body.
  • Mix it with Epsom salts for your bath.
  • Apply it to the back of your knees instead of behind your ears.
  • Diffuse it instead of sniffing directly from the bottle.

Use fewer drops.

More oil is not necessarily more of a good thing. Especially when you are just beginning your essential oil journey, take it easy! I read the instructions on my diffuser the very first time I fired it up. It said to use 8-12 drops, so I used 10 and was nearly blown away by the strong scent. My oily friends laughed at me, because half of that would do the job. Five drops ended up being much less assaulting to my senses and more pleasant for everyone!

These little bottles contain crazy powerful oils. A little dab will do the trick. Start small!

Blend it with an oil you DO like.

Joy on its own reminds me of the rose-shaped scented soaps in the little soap dish in my grandma’s bathroom growing up. (Raise your hand if you know the soap dish!) Too sweet. Too floral-y. Not a fan. 

However, I’ve got Joy running in my diffuser right this very minute, yes I do. With lemon.

Last fall when we found out we were expecting Baby #6!!! on the very same day our basement crew arrived, my world was spinning and I won’t lie, I had a come-apart. The come-apart came and went for weeks as I was stressed to the max, incredibly emotional, exhausted, not feeling well at.all. (hello, skid loader spewing fumes under my house from 8am to 5pm every single day), the holiday season was upon us, all of our things from the old storage basement were boxed in my bedroom and dining room, and we hadn’t told a soul about the baby. Mama needed some Joy, but Mama couldn’t stand the scent of Joy.

Lemon balances the sweetness of Joy for me, and Joy balances my emotions for me. They are quite the pair!

Take a single oil that you really enjoy, and experiment. Add it to one you don’t care for and see what happens. I have great success adding any citrus to different blends. I also like to use peppermint as a “smell better” oil. Lavender on its own = meh. Peppermint and lavender = awesome.

Add citrus because citrus is universally awesome.

I don’t think I know anyone who doesn’t like at least some citrus oils. They truly are my favorite, and I promise it’s not just because they are so inexpensive (though that does help). Citrus oils are Happy Oils. They are fresh, clean, and easily blended with others.

I add citrus to almost everything, both because I love the scent and because they help me stretch the pricier blends. Orange + Thieves. Grapefruit + Joy. Lemon + Lavender + Peppermint (stops the snot and smells amazing).

Don’t be afraid to make citrus your oily BFF. Use it liberally and pair it with less enticing scents to see what happens!

Wear it on your feet and cover with socks to still get therapeutic benefits.

The beauty of essential oils is that they work even when we don’t care for their scent. ImmuPower. En-R-Gee. Di-Gize. Self-explanatory, right? They work great, but my nose doesn’t care for them. Some plants just don’t appeal to my senses, and that’s okay! Lucky for me, I still get therapeutic benefits from the oils even if they aren’t bombarding my olfactory nerve.

Scent is a big deal with essential oils, but it’s not the only deal. Rub the stinky ones onto the soles of your feet (use a roller fitment if you really don’t want to touch it), slip some socks on, and carry about your business, stink-free.

Give it some time, you may grow to love it.

I was blown away by scent when my Premium Starter Kit first arrived 2 1/2 years ago. I could smell it before I could see it in the unopened package, and I was quite intimidated. We had been basically a scent-free home (other than the dirty diapers and sweaty children, ahem) because any kind of artificial scent would give some of us headaches.

Essential oils are not artificial scents, though. Yipee! They are strong, however, and may be best enjoyed slowly. Fewer drops. Diluted with a favorite carrier oil. Used frequently, but sparingly. No need to bombard the senses! Allow your body time to get used to them by diffusing something pleasant every day. When you come across a scent that assaults your senses, feel free to cap that bottle and return to it little by little as you become more oily. Your body, and your senses, may adjust!

And if they don’t? Well, I have good news! Many plants have similar healing properties. Grab your pocket reference to find another oil that can balance the issue and be pleasing to your nose.

What are your favorite essential oil scents? Are there any you have grown to love? Any that work so well you don’t even care that they don’t smell good?

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  1. I’m getting used to Cedarwood, but for awhile it was feet or nothing. It’s growing on me, though. Joy grew on me and now I love it. Just discovered diffusing Joy and Peppermint together – it smells so wonderful!! And I giggled at the 10-12 drops. I bet that was intense!! I usually do 3-4 drops.

    • My husband loves cedarwood. Thinks it smells like the actual wood. Like a cedar closet or something. I originally though it smelled like… cat pee. Ha! (Like I even know what that smells like?!)

      Joy + Peppermint! Gonna have to try that one!

      • Julie peterson says:

        I agree on the cat pee / cedar wood chuck conclusion!!

      • Yes, cedarwood smells like cat pee! I’m not sure what companion oil could stave off that odor.

      • Oh my gosh I thought I was the only one that felt that way about cedarwood… cat pee.

        • stephanie says:

          Oh my, I just opened my first bottle of YL cedarwood and gagged from the smell…yes…musty cat pee. Years ago I had diffused another brand’s Texas Cedarwood in my sauna, simply for the smell of it: warm, woodsy, balsamic, sweet. I was shocked at the smell of the YL’s Atlas Cedarwood and thought I might somehow have gotten a “tainted” bottle. Thank you for this posting, at least now I know my bottle isn’t tainted; apparently there are lots of people who perceive it this way. Interestingly, I got my first bottle of Shutran last month, hoping it might make a nice cologne. I also recoiled from the smell…even underneath the heavy scent of YlangYlang, I could smell the “cat pee” aroma. Now I know why.
          I would appreciate any ideas for companion oils that balance out the Cedarwood, esp in a diffuser! I will try the suggestion for putting it on my feet for sleep, but had really hoped to diffuse it this winter season.

          • Jennifer C says:

            I mix it with lavender and it is much more tolerably to me. I’ve heard other mixing lavender and peace & calming but I haven’t tried that yet.

  2. DiGize stinks SO bad but it works SO incredibly well, that who cares!? If I have it on and can smell it I think of all the wonderfulness it’s doing and I just smile.

  3. Great ideas! I laughed out loud at the title because my son with autism hates the smell of Thieves. He says it smells like cancer. I’m not sure what cancer smells like but for him it would be Thieves for sure!

  4. What a great article and great tips! One oil that we ONLY diffuse is White Fir. Mixed with our body chemistry that one smells like cat poop!!! Too bad I didn’t realize it BEFORE we were in church… We use Cedarwood all the time–works better for our kiddos than Peace & Calming. And Joy is used each day on this mama. I have gotten used to the scent. Stress Away was an instant love for me.

    Thank you for sharing your “potions.” I will have to try some of those! 🙂

    • I don’t know how I missed this when you first commented, but OH MY!!!!! White Fir. I must remember that! 🙂

      Also, I love Cedarwood because of the PRICE. 🙂

  5. This was so incredibly helpful!!! I just got my box and right away started sniffing everything. I am a pretty scent free home/person. Barely wear perfume and tend to stick to fruity lotions. My head felt assaulted after smelling all my oils and I was feeling a little disappointed! So glad I ran into this!!

    • I’m so glad! EOs are POWERFUL and I really think it’s best to take it slow and easy, and experiment to find what works best for you.

  6. stephanie says:

    Thank you for this conversation about using EO’s in a creative way if you don’t necessarily like the scent. I too started out using 8-10 drops oil in my diffuser and found it to be way too much! I have also found that some oils start to smell too cloying and sweet, even if I liked them at first. Valor is an oil I LOVE to diffuse but it is often out of stock and expensive when you can get it, so I have found that 2 drops of Valor plus 2-3 drops Envision is a great combo to diffuse for sleep (calming, grounding)! Valor II was much too sweet for me but 3 drops of Grapefruit balances out the YlangYlang. I avoid using Lemon in these blends at night because there is research which suggests Lemon EO interferes with sleep, but I can’t wait to try it blended with Joy during the day; thanks for that suggestion! (My bottle of Joy has been sitting around for a year…too floral for me too.) Finally, thanks for the Lavender plus peppermint idea; I sometimes feel like I’m the only one who doesn’t love it (although I keep it in the kitchen to use on burns); never would’ve thought of that combo on my own; can’t wait to try it.

  7. Brittany says:

    Is there an alternative to cedarwood? I can’t stand the cat pee smell. I’m looking for some help to mainly help my scalp and hair growth, which is why I bought it in the first place.

  8. I recently learned that Vetiver oil can help treat ADHD. I’m ADHD and one day my children will be too so I’d like to find a way to help without having to turn to medication at a young age. Unfortunately Vetiver reeks! I seriously hate the smell. There’s a tiny bit left in my hand and it’s making me gag. Any suggestions on how to mask Vetiver or any other oils which might help treat ADHD?

  9. I don’t like the smell of lavender!!! What can I use to cover it up or make it smell wonderful??? I just put in 2 drops of lavender and 2 of Bergamot…not enough to cover it…

    I think I’ll try grapefruit since I have a lot—kept forgetting to change my order!

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