Serene and Pristine: How to Clean Essential Oil Diffusers

If you have an oil diffuser, you’re likely already familiar with the many benefits they can bring to your life. Not only do they make your home smell amazing, but they can also provide a number of aromatherapy benefits. But when’s the last time you cleaned your essential oil diffuser?

Knowing how to clean essential oil diffusers is a crucial part of having them in your home. Without regular cleanings, diffusers can become breeding grounds for mold, mildew, and bacteria. Read on to learn how (and how often) to clean your diffuser.

Different Types of Oil Diffusers

Before we go over how to clean your oil diffuser, let’s talk a little about some of the different types of oil diffusers out there. The simplest oil diffusers use reeds in a vase filled with oil or a fan that pulls the aroma up from a small pad infused with the oil. These models don’t usually need much cleaning, since you simply replace the vase or pad when you want to use a different oil.

Nebulizer diffusers and ultrasonic diffusers break essential oils down into smaller particles that can then get dispersed through the room. Both of these produce a cool mist and use either vibrations or pressurized air to break up essential oils. You can also get diffusers that use heat to create a warm mist infused with essential oil.

Why You Should Clean Your Diffuser

Most of us may not ever think about cleaning our oil diffuser. After all, once you use it, the tank is empty, you put in more oil for the next go-round, and voila! You’re back in business, right?

But over time, residue from those essential oils can begin to build up in the tank of your diffuser. And if you’re using a model that involves water, mold and mildew can begin to grow in those damp spaces. Then, each time you use your diffuser, you’re blasting those particles out into your home with your oil of choice.

How Often to Clean Your Diffuser 

hand washing

Ideally, you should clean your oil diffuser in some form or fashion each time you use it. This doesn’t have to be the deep clean we’ll discuss later, but some form of quick wipe down is a good idea. This will keep residue from building up and make it easier to get your diffuser clean next time you do get ready to do a deep clean.

But if we’re being real, most of us aren’t going to clean our diffusers every time we use them. Instead, aim to do a routine cleaning about once a week – twice if you’re using it more heavily than normal. You should aim to do a deep clean about once a month or so, though, again, make that call based on how often you’re using it.

Routine Cleaning vs. Deep Cleaning

We’ve mentioned routine cleaning vs. deep cleaning a couple of times now, so let’s dive into what that looks like. A routine cleaning is the quick wipe down you should do every week or so to prevent oil from building up in your diffuser. A deep cleaning is meant to reach every nook and cranny to get your diffuser spotless before you use it again. 

For a routine cleaning, take your diffuser apart so you can access the reservoir where the oil and/or water goes. Using a clean, damp rag and a little bit of gentle dish soap, wipe down the reservoir. Then wipe the reservoir and the outside of the diffuser with a soap-free damp rag, dry everything thoroughly, and reassemble the diffuser.

Unplug and Empty the Diffuser

When you get ready to do a deep clean, the first step is to unplug your diffuser. Many models will have a removable cord, and if you can do this with your model, remove the cord and set it aside. Otherwise, be sure to keep the cord out of the way during the cleaning process.

Disassemble your diffuser and empty out the reservoir. Some models are designed such that you can remove the reservoir from the rest of the diffuser entirely. If your has a removable reservoir, remove it and set the rest of the diffuser aside; we’ll get to how to clean that later.

Wash Out the Reservoir

Once your diffuser is disassembled, it’s time to wash out the reservoir to get rid of any oil residue. If you have a removable tank, take it to the sink and wash it out thoroughly with soap and water. The side of the reservoir should feel clean and free of either soap or oil when you run your finger over it.

If your reservoir is attached to the rest of the diffuser, use the same cleaning method we discussed for routine cleaning. You can also pour a little soapy water into the reservoir to help get rid of any stubborn oil spots. But you have to make sure all soap traces are removed before you use your diffuser again, so keep that in mind.

Clean the Ultrasonic Plate

If you have an ultrasonic essential oil diffuser, it will have a small plate or chip that produces the vibrations that break up the oil. This plate can get clogged with oil residue, which keeps it from working at top efficiency. You need to give it a little special attention when you’re doing a deep clean on your ultrasonic diffuser.

Locate your ultrasonic plate in your diffuser; in most cases, it will be at the bottom of the reservoir. Dip a cotton swab into rubbing alcohol and give that plate a gentle wipe down. Make sure there’s no residue left, and give the alcohol enough time to evaporate before you reassemble your diffuser. 

Fill with Cleaning Solution

Once you’ve cleaned out your reservoir, it’s time to deep clean the parts of your diffuser that do the actual diffusing. Reassemble your oil diffuser, but instead of putting oil in it, fill it about halfway with plain water. Then add about ten drops of distilled white vinegar

Because vinegar is acidic, it’s great at breaking down all sorts of residues, including essential oil residues. It can also help to kill mold and mildew and keep your diffuser hygienic. But the best part is it’s all-natural, so you won’t be spraying any harmful chemicals into your home.

Run the Diffuser 

With your vinegar-water solution in place, put your diffuser back together and turn it on just like you normally would. The vinegar and water will begin to make their way through your diffuser’s systems, cleaning out any oil residue that’s been trapped in the inner workings of your diffuser. Your home may smell like vinegar while you’re running this cycle, so if that bothers you, try to start it before you head out to run errands or go for a walk.

Once your diffuser’s cycle is done running, decide if you want to run another cleaning cycle. If you’ve been using your diffuser more heavily than normal or if it’s been longer since your last cleaning, this may be a good idea. Wipe your diffuser dry, refill the tank with the same water/vinegar mixture, and start another cycle.

Wipe It Dry

Once you’re satisfied your diffuser is clean, you need to wipe it dry. Yes, the vinegar disinfected your diffuser when it ran through. But if you allow water to sit in your diffuser for a week after you clean it, mold and mildew are going to start growing all over again.

Get a clean, dry rag and carefully wipe out your diffuser’s reservoir, making sure to get into all the corners. Wipe out as much of the inside of the diffuser as you can reach without taking anything apart. Then reassemble your diffuser with the tank clean, dry, and empty.

Wipe Down the Outside

While you’re doing your deep clean, you may want to take some time to wipe down the outside of your diffuser. When the diffuser is running, it’s spraying a mist of oil and water up into the air. And while some of this drifts out to infuse the rest of your space, some of it falls right back down onto the outside of the diffuser, causing it to become grimy.

Before you plug the diffuser back in, use a clean, damp cloth to wipe down the outside of your diffuser. Pay special attention to any design details that may harbor pockets of grime and dirt. If you’ve got a lot of buildup, you may be able to use a wet wipe to break through some of the grease, though always check with your owner’s manual first.

Your Diffuser Is Overheating 

As your diffuser gets used and loved more, it may start to show some problems. Giving your diffuser a solid cleaning can be a great way to start solving some of those issues. But if the problems persist, you may need to do a little additional troubleshooting on your diffuser.

If your diffuser feels hot to the touch after you’ve been using it, make sure you aren’t overfilling the diffuser. Start by unplugging your diffuser and emptying the reservoir, allowing it to cool down completely before you use it again. While you’ve got the diffuser disassembled, check the fan intake to make sure it’s not blocked or dirty.

Your Diffuser Isn’t Diffusing

In some cases, you may notice that what was once a cloud of mist rising above your diffuser has become just a trickle. If this is the case, the first thing you should do is check your water levels in the reservoir. If they are too low, your diffuser may not have enough to make a nice, thick cloud of steam.

If you have an ultrasonic diffuser, cleaning the plate or chip may help to resolve this problem. Over time, oil and gunk can build up on this plate, making it harder for it to vibrate. Make sure your plate is clean if you notice your diffuser isn’t working as efficiently as it once did.

The Power Light Isn’t On

The first question when you notice the power light isn’t on on your diffuser is “Is it plugged in?” If you just got done cleaning your diffuser, the power cord may not be fully plugged into either your diffuser or the wall. Check to make sure both connections are fully seated and that the outlet you’re using is functional.

You may also want to make sure your diffuser has water if the power light isn’t coming on. Some diffusers have a built-in safety feature that prevents them from turning on if the reservoir is empty. If there is water, but it still won’t work, try emptying your diffuser, wiping it out, and allowing it to dry for at least a full day before you use it again.

Learn How to Clean Essential Oil Diffusers

oil diffuser on the table

Having an oil diffuser around can make your house smell wonderful, as well as providing some great aromatherapy benefits. But it’s important to know how to clean essential oil diffusers to prevent oil residue, mold, and mildew from building up inside it. Aim to do a routine cleaning at least once a week and a deep clean at least once a month.

If you’d like to find some of the best oil diffusers on the market, check out the rest of our site at Everlasting Comfort. We have everything from oil diffusers and humidifiers to chair cushions and memory foam pillows to help you live your most comfortable life. Shop our health and wellness products today and discover for yourself what benefits an oil diffuser can bring to your life.

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