how to clean an essential oil diffuser

How to Clean an Essential Oil Diffuser (Step by Step)

Are you enjoying the benefits of your essential oils regularly? If so, then you need to understand how to clean an essential oil diffuser. As you burn the oils, they burnt oils begin to build up a filmy residue. The only way to eliminate this film is to give clean your diffuser after every single use.

We are sharing this comprehensive guide to cleaning the following essential oil diffuser types:

  • Ultrasonic diffuser
  • Nebulizing diffuser
  • Evaporative diffuser

Additionally, we will address the five most commonly asked questions that we receive from our site users.

  • How often should I clean my diffuser?
  • What can I do to eradicate the smell in my essential oil diffuser?
  • Can I clean my diffuser with lemon juice?
  • How can I clean my oil diffuser without vinegar?
  • What can I do to prevent mold in my diffuser?
essential oil diffuser
Every essential oil diffuser requires regular care.

Why You Should Deep Clean Your Essential Oil Diffuser

You might be wondering why, precisely, you should even worry about cleaning your essential oil diffuser. There are two primary reasons why you need to be concerned about this task.

And, you might be surprised that neither of these reasons is related to the formation of mold or bacteria in your diffuser.

However, consider some of the antibacterial benefits of the most popular essential oils—tea tree, rosemary, eucalyptus, and sandalwood, for instance. Many essential oils inhibit the formation of fungus and bacteria.

In fact, essential oil expert Kathi Keville, the Director of the American Herb Association, states, “I’ve never heard of this happening. Essential oils are antimicrobial or antifungal in general, so they actually help prevent things like mold from growing.”

So, why then?

First, a dirty oil diffuser can diminish your experience. Oily residue left from prior use can interfere with the fragrance. For instance, your tried-and-true bergamot essential oil may not do the trick and pep you up if you are still burning chamomile essential oil along with it.

Second, and perhaps more importantly, the post-burning oily residue can build up inside your diffuser. This film creates a potential for your diffuser to become less effective or eventually even stop working.

Keeping your oil burner clean will help to prevent those two issues.

essential oils
Because essential oil residues build up, regular care is a must.

How Often You Should Clean Your Diffuser

The frequency of cleaning your diffuser is largely dependent on how often you use it. Whether you burn oils daily or only once a week has a bearing on this.

After every use, you should wipe out your diffuser (more about this later). However, your unit needs a deeper cleaning every two to four weeks. If you burn oil daily, plan on cleaning it once every two weeks. If you use your diffuser less frequently, deep clean once per month.

At no time should you ever allow water to remain in the unit when not in use.

How to Clean an Ultrasonic Diffuser

An ultrasonic diffuser works by creating a fine, cool mist of water combined with essential oil that releases into the air. Because you add water to a chamber to generate this mist, you must pour out all water after each use to prevent the eventual corrosion of your unit.

Besides that, you should perform a thorough cleaning every two to four weeks. Here’s how to deep clean an ultrasonic diffuser.

  1. Turn off and unplug your ultrasonic diffuser.
  2. Pour out the used water. Be careful to tip the water out and away from any electronic components.
  3. Fill the water chamber to the halfway mark with fresh water.
  4. Add 10 drops of white vinegar to the water chamber. You may also choose lemon essential oil as an alternative (but not lemon juice).
  5. Turn on your unit. Let it run for five minutes to allow the vinegar to cycle through the unit. This process removes mineral deposits that your water might have left.
  6. Pour out the water and vinegar mixture.
  7. Rinse the water chamber with clean water.
  8. Dry the water chamber with a cotton brush or microfiber cloth and set it aside to air dry thoroughly.
  9. Use a cotton swab doused in white vinegar or isopropyl alcohol to clean the edges of the water chamber, the exterior of the unit, and the ultrasonic mist chip.
Ultrasonic essential oil diffuser
The Young Living Aria diffuser makes a stylish statement as it dispenses your essential oil. | Photo courtesy of Young Living

How to Clean a Nebulizing Diffuser

A nebulizing diffuser is the most potent diffuser. This diffuser does not require water or heat and works by atomizing—or breaking down the atoms of the oil and emitting a fine mist. Regardless of the absence of water in this style of diffuser, you still need to clean it regularly.

This is how to do a detailed cleaning of your nebulizing diffuser.

  1. Turn off and unplug your diffuser
  2. Remove the glass reservoir.
  3. Soak the glass reservoir in a combination of hot water and a few drops of dish liquid for 30 to 60 minutes.
  4. As the glass soaks, remove the glass tube for cleaning. Pour a couple of tablespoons of isopropyl alcohol into the tube, place your thumbs over each end, carefully shake the tube, rinse it, and allow it to air dry.
  5. After a 30 minute soak, remove the glass reservoir from its soak and rinse it thoroughly with clear water.
  6. Use a microfiber cloth to dry it as much as possible, then set it safely out of harm’s way to air dry completely.
Essential oil users consistently rate the doTERRA nebulizing diffuser a customer favorite. | Photo courtesy of doTERRA

How to Clean an Evaporative Diffuser

An evaporative diffuser uses a small fan to move air across a pad soaked with an essential oil. The liquid from the pad dispenses into the air as it evaporates.  Like the other two styles, it’s critical to know how to clean your diffuser.

The evaporative diffuser is easy to deep-clean and requires little care.

  1. Remove the pad.
  2. Dust the fan blades with a dampened microfiber cloth to remove the dust.
  3. Then, wipe down the entire outside of the unit with isopropyl alcohol.
evaporative oil diffuser
You’ll see that some evaporative diffusers have added functionality. This model connects to Bluetooth to double as a speaker and serves also as a nightlight–you pick the light color from any hue in the rainbow. | Photo courtesy of TianBao

Diffuser Care After Each Use

As mentioned earlier, you should perform a quick cleaning each time you’ve enjoyed your oil diffuser.

Unplug your diffuser. If there is water in the chamber, pour it out—away from the electrical parts. Wipe the diffuser out with a clean microfiber cloth to remove any oil residue.

Your essential oil diffuser is now prepared for the next use.

Three Common Mistakes People Make When Cleaning Oil Diffusers

essential oil diffusers
Easy tips for fool-proof cleaning.

When enthusiasts learn how to clean an essential oil diffuser for the first time, they make several mistakes. While these errors may seem somewhat nit-picky, it’s vital you avoid these three mistakes as they can be hazardous and even cause injury.

  • Attempting to clean the unit while it, the oil, or the water is still hot.
  • Forgetting to unplug the oil diffuser prior to cleaning.
  • Pouring liquids in the direction of electronic parts—mixing moisture and electricity is always a bad idea!

Handling your oil diffuser with care is necessary for your continued wellness and the longevity of your diffuser unit.

The Bottom Line

Once you learn how to clean an essential oil diffuser, make it part of your bi-weekly or monthly routine, depending on how much you use it.  A well-cared-for unit will last you for many years, giving you plenty of time to enjoy!

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