How to Clean a Diffuser - Troubleshoot Common Problems | Plant Therapy

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Everyday Essentials by Plant Therapy

How to Clean a Diffuser

By: Retha Nesmith, Certified Aromatherapist

My diffuser is looking pretty sad! I decided it needed a nice cleaning. All diffusers will come with instructions on how to clean them but if you are like me, you no longer have those instructions! Plus, I wanted an easy trick that I could clean all and any diffusers with.

This is what my diffuser looked like before I cleaned it ๐Ÿ™

diffuser dirty

This is what my diffuser looked like after I cleaned it ๐Ÿ™‚

diffuser clean

Much better right?!

All I did was fill up the diffuser with half vinegar, half water. I then let it sit overnight, but it really only needs to sit for a few hours. Make sure you use tap water and not filtered water or distilled water.ย If your diffuser is acting a little weird I recommend you give it a nice clean and then see how it works. Most of the time it will fix the problem if you are using tap water.

In the morning I just took a dry rag and wiped it out. That was it! Now it looks so nice and clean! This technique can be used with most diffusers. Always try to follow the directions on the instruction sheet first! Has your diffuser ever looked this bad?

Now it’s time to start diffusing again ๐Ÿ™‚


53 thoughts on “How to Clean a Diffuser”

  • I use DISTILLED WATER ONLY in all of my diffusers. I have about 7 of them, all different kinds and I have Never had any problems with my diffusers acting up. I only drink distilled water and cook with it and use it for DIYS. I am NOT willing to drink or eat or BREATHE all the garbage that is in tap water. Distilled is the best way to go.

  • ive been using mine for about everyday for four months with cedarwood oil and it looks like there is some kind of clear crystals forming on the sides is this normal for anyone else i use just tap water in it

  • I have filtered well water in my home. I clean my diffuser with alcohol and cotton balls every couple weeks…

  • Anybody know… Is it ok to breath the vinegar? I know I breath it all the time when I’m cleaning but ok to diffuse overnight while we sleep in the same room?

    1. You don’t actually diffuse the vinegar, just allow it to sit in the diffuser for a bit to help loosen the residue left by the other essential oils. Then wipe it clean, rinse and you’r ready to diffuse once again!

      1. Perhaps you should correct your post? It still says to diffuse the vinegar and water overnight and some people don’t read comments.

        1. I fixed it, it was an old post and must have just gotten overlooked. Thanks so much for bringing it to our attention again. ๐Ÿ™‚

          1. Great so now when I get to the bottom of this blog I see that youโ€™re not supposed to diffuse the water and vinegar. I just did for about 5 to 10 minutes. So I stopped it and emptied it out and Iโ€™m diffusing just plain water now for a few minutes. My diffuser looks new but Iโ€™ve had it since January so I thought I should do a better cleaning technique. I already dump out and wipe it every couple of times. Now I see youโ€™re not supposed to use filtered water? Most times I take it from my refrigerator and sometimes from the tap. .

  • I have a spa vapor diffuser and it died because of using vinegar. I called greenair and they replaced it for free and said they no longer recommend using vinegar to clean their diffusers because it ruins them.

  • The article says to diffuse overnight and Christina says to just let it soak. I was going to ask how diffusing vinegar smelled. Not pleasant, I imagine. lol

    And yes, to whoever mentioned above that her YL diffuser was to be used with distilled water. That was my first diffuser and they were my introduction to essentials oils. Now, I’m PT, all the way. I have the Apple diffuser (which I LOVE) and am still using distilled water in it with no problems, so far. I live in a beach community and the water is undrinkable to me but maybe I’ll give it a try.

  • You should never allow your diffuser to get that dirty. Clean it after every 2 uses at the very least.

  • I understand why I need to use tap, but I’m wondering about using some sort of spring or mineral water. Our tap is heavy with chlorine and I’m a little concerned about breathing it in. I’m even wondering if the chlorine affects the oils effectiveness. Do you know of any research on this? Thanks!

    1. Unfortunately I do not know of any research on that topic. I understand your concern, however and would use a bottled or filtered water if you are worried about the chlorine.

      1. I think I will research the vinegar cleaning situation because now I am curious. I will say what happens.

  • How would you clean the Advanced Aromatherapy Diffuser? Do you think I could run some vinegar through it? It doesn’t use water to diffuse the oils, so I didn’t think I could put anything else but oils through it.

  • Mine has never turned any colors or gotten any buildup, it still looks brand new. But all of a sudden stopped working. I turn it on, it beeps twice and shuts off. Anyone have this issue?

      1. Actually, my YL diffuser says to ONLY use DISTILLED water! I thought this was great because you’re not breathing in the crap from the water. However, my new doTERRA diffusers (the Lotus and the AromaLite) say to use tap water. At first I was confused because, why would I want to use yucky tap water and breathe in all that stuff that I will not drink. Then I learned that the oils need to ‘grab’ onto a larger molecule in order to properly diffuse. So I don’t know if it is a different technology, or if it is newly discovered information… What do you think?

    1. You are not supposed to use distilled water in your diffuser or purified water. The particles in the water are too small for the diffuser to recognize them and it won’t diffuse. Only use tap water. Let me know if you have any other questions.

      1. The instructions with my diffuser say to only use distilled water, so this must vary depending on the manufacturer.

  • I have really hard water. I can’t seem to get the hard water stains off of the top plastic piece. I tried diffuser the water and vinegar method and it just would not clean the top. Any suggestions for cleaning/using diffusers with hard water?

    1. When hard water stains are a problem, I always soak in vinegar. Maybe if the lid is the only part not coming clean, just soak the lid for a few minutes in a vinegar solution.

      1. The particular diffuser that I recently purchased (Pure Essentials Oil WorksUltrasonic Aroma Diffuser) says to use Citric Acid to clean it. After 2-3 days or 5-6 refills, drain any remaining water, add One Tablespoon of Citric Acid and add 100ml of warm water (158 degrees), soak for 5 minutes, drain and wipe with soft, clean, dry cloth.

  • This looks like the one I just bought a few weeks ago (mine isn’t messy yet!) The instructions did say to simply wipe it out after each use and not to use any cleaning agents in it or the ionizing could be hurt…..would vinegar hurt it, then?

    1. With all the research I did this was overall the best way to clean most diffusers. My diffuser is still working and I am not having any problems. But other than that I am not sure!

    1. I have read a lot of places that if you use filtered or distilled they the particles in the water are too small and it’s hard for the diffuser to recognize the water and diffuse it.

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