A Definitive Ranking of Fall Scents, From Least to Most Comforting

Smell is a powerful sense.

You get one sniff of a particular aroma, and suddenly you're hit with a wave of positive memories.

This can happen with any scent, but we've noticed it happens most often around the fall season when notes of pumpkin, spice and everything nice drift through the air and up our noses (in the most comforting way possible, of course).

Seeing as fall scents evoke such comfy, cozy emotions, we figured now was as good a time as any to rank them from least to most comforting. Scroll below to see which autumn aroma takes the No. 1 spot on our list!

9. Autumn Leaves

Autumn leaves are fun to play in and watch change with the season, but they don't really give off a distinct scent. Their crispy texture and color-changing capabilities don't quite make up for the lack of aroma, which is why they rank rather low on this list.

8. Cedarwood

Another nature-related scent, we're not the biggest fans of cedarwood. It can be a bit intense and starts to overpower one's senses in a matter of seconds. Less is more when it comes to this spicy, woodsy smell. We're specifically calling out those of you who use it as body spray. We can smell you from a mile away, so stop excessively drenching your body in it. Try something less harsh on the nostrils.

7. Orange Clove

Orange clove is citrus and space and everything nice… well, when we're in the mood for it. It's sort of hit or miss for us, but it's so inherently fall that we'd feel bad leaving it off this list. We almost feel as though we appreciate this scent more when it's not fall. When we get a whiff of it any other month, we're hit with all the positive feelings associated with fall. Absence makes the heart grow fonder.

6. Caramel Apple

There's nothing like munching on a caramel apple at the state fair to remind you fall has arrived. The first bite of the bright, crisp apple covered in ooey gooey caramel is pure magic. And the sugary sweet aroma accompanied by the treat is all the more delectable. Sometimes, it can be a bit too sweet for our liking though, which is why it doesn't rank higher on the list.

5. Cinnamon

Cinnamon may be a component of many scents on this list, but we still believe it's worthy of a spot all of its own on this ranking. One whiff of a cinnamon stick, and all our troubles melt away. It's all sorts of inviting and warm, but it really does help enhance other fall-related aromas, which is why it falls smack-dab in the middle of our list.

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4. Pumpkin Pie

Pumpkin pie is to fall as apple pie is to America. There's no dessert more closely associated with the season than any other treat. Sure, you can make the pie whenever you please, but does it really taste or smell as delicious during winter, summer or spring? Nope. Once the sweet scent of pumpkin and vanilla mixed with the spicy notes of cloves and cinnamon makes its way into our nostrils, it's equivalent to a warm, loving embrace from someone you cherish with all your heart.

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3. Flannel

One of the best parts about fall is the temperature. It's not too hot, not too cold—it's just right. And it's the best weather for our favorite clothing item, flannels. There's nothing we enjoy wearing more than an oversized flannel button-up on a crisp fall morning. But it's the scent they give off that makes them all the more desirable. Though it's sort of a musky aroma, it's incredibly cozy and calming—especially when it's fresh out the dryer. Fall wouldn't be fall without flannels.

2. Pumpkin Spice

When thinking of scents that are uniquely fall, pumpkin spice ranks rather high for everyone. Pumpkins are so synonymous with the season and the word spice evokes feelings of warmth and comfort—something autumn is all about. Plus, there's no better way to ring in the season than by sipping on a PSL from Starbucks. Even if you're not a fan, they've become such a staple of the season.

1. Apple Cider

A nice, piping hot cup of apple cider just screams fall. As the months get colder, our desire for one of these bad boys dramatically increases from day to day. There's no better feeling than knowing a mug full of apple cider is waiting for you, especially after a long, stressful day. Just one whiff of the equal parts sweet and bitter notes and all our problems fade into the background. To say it's the most comforting fall scent is almost an understatement, because it's more than deserving of the honor.


With fall just around the corner, it's time to start thinking about your first post for the season. Will it be a shot of you rolling in a pile of leaves, or a snap of you in a pumpkin patch? Whichever photo you decide on, we've got all the fall-related Instagram captions you need right HERE.