The Best Ways to Clean an Essential Oil Diffuser

With most of the objects we use regularly at home, we need to clean them every once in a while. If you have an essential oil diffuser, you either already know or guessed that this is another one of those objects. It is always a great idea to clean out your diffuser every month or so, but you should also clean it after each use. We will discuss how to do the small cleaning each day, as well as the deep clean every month or so. There are a variety of ways to clean it and each diffuser is different, so we will discuss those as well. Keep reading to learn how to properly clean your diffuser.

Why Should You Clean Your Essential Oil Diffuser

Before we discuss the methods of cleaning an essential oil diffuser, we need to talk about why it is important. Your first thought may be in regards to germs. Most objects accumulate germs and other gross bacteria over time, so we have to clean them regularly. However, this is not a problem with diffusers. You do not need to worry about your diffuser spreading bacteria throughout your home because most essential oils are antiviral and antibacterial by nature. Though the studies are few, no one has had an instance so far where they found harmful bacteria in their diffuser.

Why do we need to clean them out then? It has everything to do with the diffuser's performance. Over time, your oils can cause buildup inside the reservoir. This can prevent your diffuser from spreading the aroma around your home properly, which then affects your ability to benefit from the oils. In more severe instances, neglecting to clean a diffuser can lead to it breaking and not working at all. It costs more money to replace your essential oil diffuser than to clean it regularly, so you are better off taking the time to clean it. Most sources recommend doing a quick clean after each use and a deep clean every month. This will keep your diffuser working properly for a longer period of time.

How to Clean an Essential Oil Diffuser

Now, let’s talk about the cleaning methods for essential oil diffusers. There are a handful of materials you will need, and you can choose which materials you want to use. Each diffuser is also different, so the methods will be different for the type of essential oil diffuser you have. Because the most common types of diffusers are the ultrasonic and atomizing diffusers, we will look at these ones specifically. However, the actual methods are all very similar, so you can easily adapt them to any other kind of diffuser that you have. 

Cleaning Material You Will Need

First of all, you need to make sure you have the right materials to clean your essential oil diffuser properly. Thankfully, almost every single one of the materials needed is fairly cheap. They are likely materials that you already have in mind.  It is also important to look at the manual for your diffuser to see what they recommend. For all types of electric diffusers, make sure they are not plugged in before you clean them.

For a cleaner, the most popular item to use is pure white vinegar. This is a great natural cleaner and also does a great job cleaning up essential oil and tap water residues. The second most common clean is isopropyl alcohol. It is especially effective when it comes to removing residues from thicker essential oils like sandalwood. Lastly, you can also buy an essential oil diffuser cleaner meant specifically for the diffuser. The company you bought your diffuser from likely has a cleaner that it sells. This is not necessary to clean it properly, but it may affect a warranty that you may have on it. Some companies will actually void the warranty on their product if you use pure white vinegar on it.

You can use just about anything to apply the cleaner, but most people prefer a paper towel or cotton swabs. You can also use a washcloth or other scrap fabric to be more eco-friendly and avoid single-use products.

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Cleaning an Ultrasonic Diffuser

Ultrasonic diffusers use water, so you will have to watch for both tap water and essential oil buildup in the basin. You will know it needs a good cleaning when the inside looks dingy, the amount of water vapor is releases minimizes, or it sounds louder. Fill the basin with water about halfway to the fill line, then add 10 drops of pure white vinegar. Turn on the diffuser for three to five minutes so it can work the vinegar through all of the parts. Next, empty out the vinegar water and use a cotton swab or other material to reach the nooks and crannies. Rinse it out, then wipe it with a clean cloth. Once it dries, you are good to use it again.

When cleaning out your essential oil diffuser after each use, just use a paper towel to clean out the basin. This not only helps prevent buildup, but it also helps prevent residual oil from affecting the next oil blend you diffuse.

Cleaning an Atomizing Diffuser

Atomizing (or Nebulizing) diffusers are different from ultrasonic ones because it does not use water. Instead of diluting the oil, an atomizing diffuser breaks down the oil into smaller particles and spreads it throughout the room. Because the oil is more heavily concentrated, it can definitely clog up the diffuser quick. This is especially true if you use thicker essential oils. In order to clean it, disassemble the essential oil diffuser and soak the non-mechanical pieces in a bowl of water and a tablespoon of vinegar. If there is still lingering residue once you pull the piece out and wipe them down, isopropyl alcohol will do the trick. You can wipe down the outside of the other pieces that cannot be submerged in water.

The everyday cleaning is similar to the method for ultrasonic diffusers. Just make sure you wipe everything down between uses and you are good to go!


Though it may seem tedious to clean your essential oil diffuser after every use, it is beneficial to you in the long run. It helps to prevent a buildup of residues that can hinder the performance of your diffuser. Every once in a while, you will also need to give it a deep cleaning. All you need is some vinegar, alcohol, and a cloth and you are ready to go. Cleaning your diffuser will extend the life of it and help you to enjoy the benefits of essential oils longer.

Related Article: Best Essential Oil Diffuser Options to Have in Your Home

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Lacey Jolley

I love exploring, experiencing new places, and eating good food! I'm amazed every day at how well the Earth provides for us, and I want to return the favor. I hope to help others learn how we can make our world a better, cleaner place.

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