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How to Clean an Oil Diffuser Properly

Avatar for Jodie Weston Jodie Weston  |  Updated: November 30, 2021
How to Clean an Oil Diffuser Properly

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Editor’s Note: This resource has been revised and updated for 2019.

Essential oil diffuser is a handy little machine. Every essential oil enthusiast would agree that living without a diffuser would be quite unsettling. There is just something so comforting about aromatherapy.

Undoubtedly, your essential oil diffuser is a hard-working invention that successfully sets a pleasant ambiance in your room. But sometimes even your dedicated companion requires an occasional checkup and tune-up. If your diffuser is becoming louder with each use, consider cleaning it. Regular cleanups will help prolong the life expectancy of your unit.

So how does one clean a diffuser?

The process is quite simple and easy. This article will introduce you to the best and safest techniques for cleaning your essential oil diffuser.

When to Clean Your Essential Oil Diffuser

Everyone has a different opinion on when to clean an essential oil diffuser. Some essential oil enthusiasts think that cleaning a diffuser after each use is unnecessary and excessive while others could not disagree more.

Not cleaning your diffuser after each use can lead to grime build-up, which at some point has to be cleaned. Postponing this unavoidable task up to the point when you notice a performance difference in your unit is simply not practical. Frequent maintenance can prevent clogging and other serious defects in the system.


Yes, cleaning a diffuser after each use is a commitment and a preventive routine, but in some cases, cleanups are considered necessary. You should definitely clean your unit in these instances:

  • Your diffuser is not diffusing oils as effectively.
  • Your diffuser is not dispersing as much mist as before.
  • Your diffuser is slowly getting louder.
  • Your diffuser is making grinding noises.
  • Your diffuser is visibly grimy on the inside and the outside.

Fortunately, it will take you only a couple of minutes to clean up the whole device. Cleanups don’t require any special tools, just a couple of simple utensils that can be found in every household. The following step-by-step guides will make the whole maintenance process even easier.

Reasons to Clean Your Diffuser after Each Use

It is very important that you clean your diffuser on regular bases, after each use if possible. Yes, this may seem a bit excessive and too much of a commitment but it is all worth it. Here are some legitimate reasons why you may want to start cleaning as frequently as possible:

  • Regular cleaning prevents thick buildup that is harder to clean.
  • Leaving infused water in the diffuser for a couple of days can lead to corrosion.
  • Regular cleaning prevents bad smell and growth of mildew.
  • Clean diffuser equals clean aromatherapy.
  • The smell and oil residue of previous use won’t corrupt your next aromatherapy experience.


How to Clean Your Diffuser after Each Use

Note: Before you proceed with the cleaning process quickly go through the manual of your diffuser. Make sure every step of this cleaning guide complies with the manual.

Step 1:

First and foremost, unplug your diffuser and pour the remaining water from the tank into the sink. Make sure you pour it out from the opposite side where buttons are located.

Some diffusers have a special spout in their design so that the water can be safely discarded each time. Pouring out the water this way will prevent accidental spillage onto the buttons and into the motor area.

Step 2:

With a damp cleaning rag clean the inside and the outside of your diffuser. A quick wipe with a damp cloth will help you get rid of any oil stains and fingerprints on the exterior. If you see fit, you can also add a little bit of natural dishwashing detergent on the cloth. Just make sure to wipe down your diffuser with plain water afterward.

Note: Don’t use any harsh cleaning products on your diffuser. Harsh chemicals may damage your device.

Step 3:

Dip a cotton swab in rubbing alcohol and clean all the little nooks and crannies of the diffuser with it, especially the ultrasonic chip. Ultrasonic sensors are usually located in the water basin. If you cannot find or recognize it, take a quick look at the manual.

Step 4:

Use a soft, dry cloth to wipe away any moisture from your diffuser. After this step, your diffuser should be free from all the aroma and residue left from the previous use. Your diffuser is now ready to be enjoyed once again.

How to Deep Clean Your Diffuser

Scheduling a deep cleaning session for your diffuser every other week or at least once a month, depending on how much you use it, is not only recommended but frankly required. Diffusers tend to lose their performance power when they are not properly cleaned. Thick water-oil buildup can completely damage even the most expensive diffusers.

essential oil diffusers

It goes without saying. If your diffuser is having trouble creating the mist or if your diffuser is making loud grinding noises, give this step-by-step deep cleaning method a try.

Note: Before you proceed with the cleaning process quickly go through the manual of your diffuser. Make sure that every step of this cleaning guide complies with the manual. Always make sure your diffuser is unplugged from the power source before attempting to clean it!

Step 1:

First and foremost, carefully pour out any leftover water from you diffuser into the skin. When done, fill the empty tank about halfway with clean, room temperature tap water. Check if the water level is way below the max line before proceeding to the next step.

Step 2:

Add approximately 10 drops of pure white vinegar into the water. Vinegar will help disinfect and break down any oil particles stuck inside the system as well as remove any oily stains on the plastic or glass casing. Pure white vinegar is strong enough to deep clean your diffuser. There is no need for you to use any other cleaning chemicals.

Step 3:

Safely plug your diffuser into the power outlet and turn it on. Let the diffuser run for approximately 5 – 10 minutes to let the vinegar do its work. Vinegar infused water will disperse throughout the diffuser making it clean and fresh once again.

Step 4:

Unplug the diffuser from its power source after running it for 5 – 10 minutes. Carefully pour out the remaining water out of the tank. Make sure the water doesn’t get into the underside of the unit while pouring. Any moisture that enters the motor compartment may ruin your device.

Step 5:

Using a cotton swab dipped in white vinegar, clean all the nooks and crannies of your diffuser. Make sure you clean the ultrasonic sensor as well. A blocked ultrasonic chip can make the unit run improperly. A cotton swab will give you enough precision to clean all tight corners.

Step 6:

Using a damp cloth, wipe down the inside and the outside of the diffuser. Cleanliness of the exterior is just as important as the cleanliness of the interior. A damp cloth will help you get rid of sticky smudges, dust, and fingerprints from the pretty exterior design of your diffuser. When done, wipe the whole unit with a soft dry cloth as well. This step will give a finishing touch to the whole deep cleaning process.

Voilà, your diffuser is now completely clean and ready for use!

Note: Using white vinegar as a cleaning tool may void your diffuser warranty. If your device is still under warranty, it is best to call the brand’s customer service or product seller before trying this deep cleaning method. They will let you know if the use of vinegar beaks any of their warranty policy rules.

Conclusion + Last Tips

Cleaning your trusty diffuser on regular basis may at first seem a handful task, but the results are worth the effort. Cleaning your diffuser after every use is just as important as monthly deep cleaning, if not more. Regular and frequent cleanups will prevent any serious defects on your device.

essential oils

Do not wait until your handy diffuser starts making noises or starts becoming “lazy” to take out the cleaning rag and rubbing alcohol. Frequent touch-ups and occasional deep cleaning will prolong the life expectancy of your unit.

A spotless diffuser will preserve the quality and integrity of your aromatherapy experience. Remember, clean diffuser equals high-quality aromatherapy.

Here are some last tips on how to clean your diffuser in a proper and safe manner:

  1. Always make sure your diffuser is unglued from the power source before cleaning it. Cleaning your diffuser while it is still plugged exposes you to the risk of electrocution or eclectic shock injury.
  2. Read your diffuser manual before giving any of the above-listed cleaning techniques a try. If your diffuser has special cleaning instructions use those instead.
  3. Provided cleaning methods in the body of the article are suitable for the diffusers that operate on water. Other types of diffusers, such as atomizing ones, require different cleaning methods.
  4. Be extremely careful when dumping the water out of the diffuser tank. Getting any water into the buttons or into the motor area may ruin the device.

Further Reading: To learn more about Essential Oils, browse the BDS Essential Oils category guide here.

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3 Responses to “How to Clean an Oil Diffuser Properly”

  1. Thanks for the helpful tips! I would agree with Robert’s suggestion to use purified water to avoid the mineral buildup, etc. I use a Brita filter/pitcher myself.

  2. Only comment, is a word of caution about using ‘tap water’ in your diffuser, even or maybe even especially when cleaning. Just don’t. Distilled pure water should ONLY ever be used. As there are all sorts of chemicals, minerals and all sorts of things that can be found in tap water, even in well water. And they can most certainly adversely affect your diffuser and aromatherapy results.

  3. I miss your backdoor survival ! but I do know we need to retire!! I use a lot of your herbal recipes. Thanks for all your good work.

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