How to Clean an Essential Oil Diffuser

Brown woven oil diffuser on white dresser next to branch in vase, candle and stack of books

The Spruce / Leticia Almeida

Project Overview
  • Working Time: 5 - 15 mins
  • Total Time: 5 - 15 mins
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Estimated Cost: $5-7

What You'll Need


Essential oil diffusers use a heat source to break down the components of essential oils to fill a room with scent. The oils can add to a calm and relaxing atmosphere, a clean essence to your home like doTerra's abode line, or create a boost of energy in workspaces, all depending upon the type of oil used. To keep any diffuser working its best, regular cleaning is a must.

How Often to Clean an Essential Oil Diffuser

Ideally, a diffuser should be rinsed clean after every use, especially if you are changing the oil scents. Then, depending on how frequently the diffuser is used, it should be thoroughly cleaned at least monthly to remove dust and build-up that affects how well it works.


Each brand and style of essential oil diffuser is slightly different, so before your first cleaning take time to read the manual for specific directions. You do not want to risk voiding a warranty by not following directions. If you have lost your manual, go online for instructions or call customer service.

What You Need


  • All-natural dishwashing detergent
  • Water
  • Rubbing alcohol


How to Clean an Essential Oil Diffuser After Every Use

Materials and tools to clean an oil diffuser on white marbled surface

The Spruce / Leticia Almeida

  1. Unplug the Diffuser

    Never clean a diffuser or any small appliance while it is still turned on and plugged into a power source.

    Oil diffuser unplugged from wall outlet

    The Spruce / Leticia Almeida

  2. Empty and Clean the Reservoir

    Pour out any water and oil mixture that remains in the diffuser reservoir. Water that is left standing for a period of time can develop mold and mildew spores.

    Wet a soft cloth with plain water and dot with just a tiny amount of all-natural dishwashing detergent. Use the cloth to wipe out the water reservoir. Rinse out the cleaned reservoir with plain water and dry completely.

    Water and oil mixture poured out of diffuser into kitchen sink

    The Spruce / Leticia Almeida

  3. Clean the Ultrasonic Plate or Chip

    The ultrasonic plate or chip breaks down the oils into base molecules and then uses water as a transference mechanism to disperse them into the air. What looks like steam is caused by the ultrasonic vibrations causing the the separation of oil molecules and creating an ultra-fine mist.

    To work properly, the ultrasonic chip must be cleaned regularly. Simply dip a cotton swab into rubbing alcohol and rub it over the chip to remove excess oil build-up.

    Oil diffuser ultrasonic plate cleaned with cotton swab and rubbing alcohol

    The Spruce / Leticia Almeida

  4. Reassemble the Diffuser

    After reassembling the diffuser, it is ready to refill and use again.

    Woven oil diffuser reassembled after cleaning

    The Spruce / Leticia Almeida

How to Deep Clean an Essential Oil Diffuser

At least monthly, the diffuser should be given a thorough cleaning to keep it working at an optimum level.

What You Will Need



  • Soft cloth
  • Cotton swab
Materials and tools to deep clean oil diffuser on white marbled surface

The Spruce / Leticia Almeida

  1. Empty Any Standing Water

    Before doing a deep cleaning of the diffuser, unplug the appliance and empty any standing water and essential oils. Never submerge any part of the diffuser in water or get excess moisture into any control buttons.

    Oil diffuser emptied out with any standing water in kitchen sink

    The Spruce / Leticia Almeida

  2. Fill the Diffuser With the Cleaning Solution

    Fill the diffuser with plain water to approximately half full. Add 10 drops of distilled white vinegar to help clean and disinfect the reservoir tank.

    Do not use any other type of vinegar or cleaner in the tank.

    Reservoir tank added with white distilled vinegar to disinfect diffuser

    The Spruce / Leticia Almeida

  3. Run the Diffuser

    Plug-in the diffuser and allow it to run for 10 to 15 minutes. This will give the vinegar and water solution time to cut through any built-up oils in the tank.

    Oil diffuser running with water and white distilled vinegar mixture from above

    The Spruce / Leticia Almeida

  4. Unplug and Empty the Reservoir

    Unplug the diffuser and empty the vinegar and water solution. Use a soft cloth to wipe down and dry the reservoir.

    Oil diffuser unplugged from wall outlet

    The Spruce / Leticia Almeida

  5. Clean the Ultrasonic Chip

    Give the ultrasonic chip or plate a wipe down with a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol to ensure that it is completely clean and oil-free.

    Diffuser ultrasonic plate cleaned with cotton swap and rubbing alcohol

    The Spruce / Leticia Almeida

  6. Wipe Down the Outside

    With the diffuser still unplugged, use a cloth dampened with plain water to wipe down the exterior of the appliance. Reassemble the diffuser and it is ready for the next use.

    Brown woven oil diffuser wiped down with cloth after cleaning

    The Spruce / Leticia Almeida

Troubleshooting Diffuser Problems

If your diffuser is not working properly, a simple cleaning may solve the problem. If not, give these tips a try:

No Power Light

  • Check that the power plug is fully connected to the electrical outlet.
  • Check the power supply to the electrical outlet.
  • Make sure the diffuser is filled with water to the correct level.
  • Empty the diffuser and allow it to dry out for at least 24 hours, refill, and try again.

Low Diffusion

  • Check water levels. Water may be too low.
  • Clean ultrasonic plate and dispersion outlet and remove oil build-up

Diffuser Feels Hot to the Touch

  • Check that the water levels are not too high.
  • Unplug and empty the reservoir. Allow the diffuser to cool and refill correctly.
  • Check to be sure the fan intake is not obstructed or dirty.

Tip to Keep Your Essential Oil Diffuser Clean Longer

Your essential oil diffuser can last longer if maintained properly. After each use, empty the diffuser out, wipe out with a paper towel dampened with vinegar, and wipe it out again with a dry paper towel. Doing this will not only keep any leftover oil from mixing in with the next one you use, but will also help prevent any corrosion on the diffuser's parts.

Article Sources
The Spruce uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Cleaning for a Healthy Home. UMN Extension.