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How to clean a diffuser

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Diffuser not working? A clean diffuser can make all the difference.

Did you know, knowing how to clean a diffuser properly is an important aspect of learning how to use essential oils?

Essential oil diffusers are an excellent tool to enjoy the benefits of aromatherapy. They cleanse the air, promote a soothing ambiance, and provide excellent health benefits. You can use different oils to create a relaxing atmosphere or boost your energy levels in your diffuser. 

With essential oil diffusers being the simplest and easiest way to use essential oils as a beginner, diffusing was my entry point into the world of essential oils. I quickly learned that using the highest quality essential oils like Young Living, created the best aromatic experience. Just a few drops of essential oil and my home smells amazing.

Although in a short time, I realized that my oils at times smelled off and my desert mist diffuser started to spit and sputter. This is when I learned leaving leftover lavender oil in my diffuser was causing oil residue build-up and I was going to need to add monthly cleaning of my diffuser to my task list.

Yep, you must regularly clean your ultrasonic diffuser to ensure it is running correctly and extend its life. Skipping regular cleaning can lead to buildup, corrosion, odor, and even malfunction.

Now I imagine you are much like me, a busy person, so doing a thorough cleaning after each use is just not going to happen.

But, read on as we explain how to clean a diffuser and why it's a good idea for you to do so regularly so you get the best possible experience from diffusing your essential oils.

Diffuser broken apart with the materials to clean a diffuser

*This post contains affiliate links to the essential oils and other products I talk about in the post. Purchasing them here from my blog is no extra cost to you but I do earn a commission that helps in the cost of running this blog. Thanks for your support!

How to clean essential oil diffusers

Regardless of the kind of diffuser you own, it is essential to clean it regularly to ensure that it works properly. If you own a Young Living diffuser, follow these ten simple steps to learn How to clean a Young Living diffuser –

As a good rule of thumb, it is always best to read the instruction manual for your diffuser. Some diffusers can be damaged by improper cleaning. The following steps will also work for Doterra diffusers or other brands.

Young Living recommends cleaning your diffuser without Vinegar as Vinegar can be corrosive to the ultrasonic plate. This damage could void the warranty on your Young Living Diffuser. Those of us that love Young Living diffusers know that the warranty for the diffusers is amazing and Young Living is great at honoring the warranty when you follow their diffuser instruction manual.

Check out our readers favorite diffusers in this Ultimate diffuser buying guide.

Diffuser broken apart with the materials to clean a diffuser

How to clean diffuser without vinegar

If you prefer not to use vinegar to clean your diffuser, you can – 

  1. Turn off the diffuser and unplug it.
  2. Empty any leftover water and essential oil blends
  3. Fill the diffuser tank with clean water and let it run for ten minutes.
  4. Empty the diffuser tank.
  5. Dip a cotton swab in rubbing alcohol to clean the ultrasonic plate to remove any buildup, oily residue and clean any hard-to-reach places in your diffuser.
  6. Rinse with clean water and wipe it with a dry cloth.

If you feel like your diffuser needs an extra boost in cleaning there are a few other great ways to clean your diffuser.

How to clean a diffuser with vinegar

  1. Turn your diffuser off and unplug it.
  2. You must empty any remaining water and/or previous essential oil in your diffuser.
  3. Fill the diffuser tank with clean fresh water till it is approximately half full. 
  4. Add ten drops of distilled white vinegar to the tank. Vinegar helps to remove any essential oils that are stuck inside the diffuser. It will also help to disinfect the water reservoir tank.
  5. Plug the diffuser in and let it run for 10 minutes. This mixture of water and vinegar will disperse throughout the unit and clean it. 
  6. Unplug the diffuser and drain out this water/ vinegar solution completely. Use a soft clean cloth to dry out the diffuser completely wiping out all remaining vinegar.
  7. Dip a cotton swab in vinegar and clean the ultrasonic mist chip or plate of the diffuser. Clean the corners and the other tight spots also with this swab. Some Young Living diffusers come with a special cleaning brush that you can use instead of a cotton swab.
  8. Rinse with clean water again.
  9. Wipe down the exterior of the diffuser with a damp cloth or paper towel.
  10. Use a dry cloth to dry the diffuser thoroughly.

Why should you clean your diffuser regularly?

It is essential to keep your diffuser clean so that it can function optimally. 

  • Highly viscous essential oils like patchouli and vetiver can leave behind residue that can gum up your diffuser. Your diffuser will not perform to its max capacity in such cases. Many times if the fine mist of your diffuser is lacking it's because of this build-up on the ultrasonic plate.
  • Leftover residues can also affect the scent and the efficacy of the next oil that you use. Suppose you want to use peppermint essential oil to boost your energy. In that case, you must clean any residue of lavender oil from your diffuser as it may interfere with the energy-increasing properties of peppermint. If you find your favorite diffuser blends just don't smell as great as they use many times it's due to build up of residue.
  • If you do not use your essential oil diffuser for some time, mold and mildew can grow inside your diffuser. That's the last thing you would want to diffuse in the air.
top images shows the three parts of a diffuser. bottom image shows a hand holding the main part of the diffuser to be cleaned.

How often should you clean your essential oil diffuser?

You should rinse and wipe your diffuser after every use. This may seem a bit tedious to you at first, but once you get into the habit, it will become second nature. And it's set things up for a great experience for your next use of the diffuser.

You must also deep clean your diffuser at least twice every month. You can set a reminder on your phone, as deep cleaning is essential to keep your diffuser running well.

Even with regular cleaning, you may face some problems with your diffuser. You may find your diffuser not working, water overheating, or your oil diffuser spitting water. If your Young Living diffuser is not working, use these common diffuser problems and simple tricks to solve them. 

Why is my diffuser not misting?

If you switch on your diffuser and find that the diffuser mist is not coming out, do not worry. It is one of the most common problems with diffusers and can be easily solved at home. These are some points to consider when troubleshooting a diffuser that is not misting – 

  • There may be a problem with the power adapter or the power supply. Ensure that the power adapter is safely secured into the wall plug.
  • It is possible that your diffuser could have a mineral or oil buildup. You will have to clean your diffuser thoroughly using the above steps to make sure that your diffuser works properly.
  • Check the water lines of your diffuser. If the water level is too high or too low, the diffuser will not mist properly. Ideally, you should fill the diffuser to just below the max fill line. Excess water prevents airflow needed for proper diffusing.
  • Place your diffuser on a hard and flat surface. If you place your diffuser on a soft surface like a towel, the towel will absorb the ultrasonic vibrations, and your diffuser will not work correctly. Placing the diffuser on a soft surface can also restrict the airflow as most diffusers have vents at the bottom.
  • Do not place your diffuser under a fan or an air vent, as this may disperse the mist.
  • Using distilled water can affect the misting in a diffuser. Use only filtered, tap, or spring water in your diffuser. Follow the instruction manual for the type of water that should be used.
Diffuser broken apart with the materials to clean a diffuser

Why is my essential oil diffuser spitting water?

  • There may be mineral or oil buildup in your diffuser, causing it to spit water. Good cleaning of your diffuser will ensure that it works appropriately and stops spitting water.
  • If the water you use in the diffuser is too cold, the diffuser may spit water instead of mist. Use lukewarm water instead of cold water.
  • Make sure the tank cover is secure, and all pieces of your diffuser are assembled correctly.

Why does the water overheat in my diffuser?

Water will overheat in your diffuser if the tank has too much water. Unplug your diffuser, empty it and let it cool. Refill it to the proper level and start it again. 

You should also check to see if the fan intake is not obstructed. Clean the fan blades to make sure nothing is blocking their proper operation. 

If the diffuser does not restart after refilling and fan cleaning, then it is possible that the internal parts of your diffuser have been damaged. You will need to get it repaired or replaced.

Are diffuser cleaners effective?

While rubbing alcohol or vinegar can be used effectively to keep your diffuser clean, there are many diffuser cleaner tablets and solutions available for the same job. 

Diffuser cleaning tablets contain sodium carbonate, sodium percarbonate, and citric acid. To use them, all you need to do is fill your diffuser to the max fill line and drop one tablet in it. Allow it to dissolve in the water for two hours. Empty the reservoir. Rinse with a little water and dry with a quick wipe using a soft cloth. 

You can also use an all-natural dishwashing detergent to clean your diffuser. Just add a small amount to a soft washcloth and clean the diffuser tank with it. 

I like to use the Young Living Thieves dish soap or spray it with the Thieves household cleaner to get an extra boost of cleaning power.

Diffuser broken apart with the materials to clean a diffuser

How to prevent and clean mold from your diffuser?

Mold can grow in your diffuser if you do not clean and store it properly after use. Ideally, you should change the mixture of essential oil and water after 24 hours. Use vinegar, rubbing alcohol, or citric acid to clean the diffuser after use.

If you do not plan to use your diffuser for a long time, you should follow proper storage techniques. Deep clean the diffuser to remove any residue and ensure that it is completely dry before reassembling and storing it.

If you find mold growing inside your diffuser, you can use vinegar to clean it. Use the same deep-cleaning technique mentioned above. Again if it is a Young Living diffuser avoid the vinegar and use something like the Thieves Household cleaner to help clean your diffuser.

Certain essential oils can also help with cleaning moldy diffusers. You can clean the mold residue in your diffuser with oils like –

  • Oregano
  • Tea tree
  • Clove oil
  • Peppermint
  • Lemon
  • Basil
  • Cinnamon
  • Clove

Never leave undiluted essential oils sitting in a diffuser as it can damage and discolor your diffuser. Just add distilled water and a few drops of oil to a spray bottle and then use the spray mixture to spray the diffuser. let sit for a few minutes and wipe clean.

Some other commonly asked questions about how to clean oil diffuser.

How to clean diffuser with lemon juice?

You can use lemon essential oil to clean your diffuser, but it is better to avoid lemon juice. To clean your diffuser with lemon essential oil, fill half the diffuser tank with water. Add a few drops of lemon oil and let it run for five minutes. This process removes all the mineral deposits in the diffuser.

How to clean the diffuser with baking soda?

You can mix vinegar with baking soda, hydrogen peroxide, and salt to clean mold from your diffuser. just avoid the ultrasonic plate as much as possible.

Can you use apple cider vinegar to clean a diffuser?

Though most people recommend that you use pure white vinegar to clean diffusers, you can use apple cider vinegar to clean your diffuser. 

Diffuser broken apart showing the inside part of a young living diffuser

How to clean a diffuser? Final thoughts

Essential oil diffusers are convenient, affordable, and versatile. They boost your mood, improve your health, and can also promote healthy sleep patterns. So, don't you think they also need extra care and maintenance? Regular cleaning of your diffuser can extend its life.

You must remember that each brand of essential oil diffuser is slightly different. So, you must read the instructions carefully before attempting to clean your diffuser for the first time. If you have lost the manual, you can check online or call customer care for directions. Do not risk voiding a warranty by not following the directions. 

Where can I buy a Young Living Diffuser?

I love Young Living diffusers many of the ones I own are over 5yrs old and they still work amazing. You may find that the Young Living diffusers are more expensive than ones you find on amazon but trust me they work amazing and their warranty can not be beaten. My favorite Young Living diffuser is the Desert mist but seriously you can't go wrong with any of their great diffusers. What I love is now you can purchase a Young Living diffuser without becoming a member.

How to clean essential oil diffusers

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