Why You Should Clean Your Essential Oil Diffuser Regularly Plus All the Steps
Photo by Stefan Gall
Having an oil diffuser in your home can have a number of wonderful benefits. It can make your home smell amazing, give you the power of aromatherapy in your own home, and even double as a humidifier. But if you’re going to own an oil diffuser, you’re going to have to know how to clean it.
If you don’t know how to clean an oil diffuser, you could wind up overloading your diffuser with oil or even blasting mold and mildew particles into your home. Read on to learn why cleaning your diffuser is so important and how to clean it the right way.
HOW OIL DIFFUSERS WORK
Before we get into the nitty-gritty of how to clean an essential oil diffuser, let’s talk a little bit about how they work. There are a wide variety of diffuser styles, ranging from simple reeds in a jar of oil to intricate nebulizers. But the ones that require the most diligent cleaning are ultrasonic oil diffusers.
Ultrasonic diffusers have a reservoir filled with water and a few drops of essential oil diluted into it. A motor sends ultrasonic vibrations through the water, breaking the mixture into tiny droplets. These droplets are sent up into the air as a fine mist, diffusing the oil out into the room around.
BENEFITS OF USING AN OIL DIFFUSER
Having an oil diffuser around can have a number of benefits for both your home and your health. For one thing, an oil diffuser can be a great way to make your home smell nice without spraying it full of artificial chemicals. But an oil diffuser also allows you to take advantage of the benefits of aromatherapy.
Depending on which essential oils you use, a diffuser can help you stay more alert and focused during the day or help you fall asleep faster at night. It can help to relieve headaches or sinus congestion and lessen chronic pain. Certain oils can even help to strengthen your immune system and improve your blood circulation.
HOW TO USE A DIFFUSER
When you’re using an oil diffuser, it’s important to use the proper amounts of oil and water. Start by placing your diffuser in a large, open space away from sunlight or fans. Fill the reservoir of your diffuser using either the included measuring cup or the fill line on the reservoir as a guide.
In general, you want to add about three drops of essential oil for every 100 mL of water you use. If you’re using more than one oil, make sure you only add a total of three drops, not three drops of each. Place the top back on your diffuser, switch it on, and enjoy the scented mist that disperses into your home.
ESSENTIAL OIL SAFETY TIPS
It is very important to remember that essential oils are extremely powerful concentrated substances. You should never use undiluted essential oils in any form. They should always be diluted in water, a carrier oil, soap, or lotion.
Applying undiluted essential oil to your skin can result in chemical burns, especially if you have sensitive skin. You should never, under any circumstances, swallow essential oils, even if they are diluted. And if you are pregnant, diabetic, have high blood pressure, or have asthma or allergies, talk to your doctor before using essential oils in any form.
PREVENT MOLD AND MILDEW
One of the most important reasons to clean out your ultrasonic oil diffuser is to prevent mold and mildew. There may be some water left in the reservoir and dispersal mechanisms of your diffuser after you use it. Depending on how often you use your diffuser, this water could sit for weeks.
Damp environments are ideal for mold and mildew to grow in. If you then use your diffuser again without cleaning it, those mold and mildew particles will be dispersed into the air along with the water and oil. You could find yourself inhaling black mold and mildew particles, which can have serious health repercussions.
Another good reason to clean out your oil diffuser is to help prevent and solve problems with your diffuser as they arise. If you use your diffuser too much without cleaning it, oil residue can begin to build up on the dispersal mechanisms. This can cause your diffusion efficiency to slow down and give you less bang for your buck.
You may also notice that the water in your diffuser is overheating when you run it. Those oil particles can build up on the intake fan, too, slowing down your cooling system. Both of these problems can be prevented or resolved with a good cleaning.
PREVENT OIL OVERUSE
When you’re setting up your oil diffuser, it’s important to make sure you use the right ratio of essential oil to water. Using too much oil can cause headaches, dizziness, nausea, and vomiting. It can also cause more serious problems for people with scent sensitivities, asthma, allergies, or other pulmonary conditions.
You can measure your essential oils out whenever you refill your diffuser, but what happens if there’s dried oil residue stuck to the bottom? That oil will get mixed in and dispersed with the oil you added when you run the diffuser. Without proper cleaning, it can be easy to overload your diffuser without realizing it.
HOW OFTEN TO CLEAN YOUR DIFFUSER
In general, it’s a good idea to do a light cleaning on your diffuser between each use. This should just consist of a light cleaning, which we’ll discuss how to do in a moment. Make sure the reservoir is dried thoroughly between each use.
At least once a month, it’s a good idea to give your oil diffuser a good deep cleaning. This will clean out all parts of your diffuser, from the reservoir to the dispersal mechanism. If you use your diffuser every day, aim to do this every week or two to keep things in good working order.
TURN OFF AND EMPTY THE DIFFUSER
The first step to cleaning your oil diffuser is to turn it off and unplug it. If possible, remove the cord from your diffuser entirely, and take the top off. Remove the reservoir, and set the rest of your diffuser aside for the moment.
If there is any water remaining in your diffuser, empty it out and give the reservoir a quick wipe down. Use a soft, clean cloth to do this, and if you have any skin sensitivities, you may want to wear gloves during this process. In general, it’s not a good idea to submerge any part of your diffuser in water.
WASH THE RESERVOIR
Once you’ve wiped out any remaining water or oil in the reservoir, it’s time to wash out the remaining oil. Wet your cloth and add a few drops of dish detergent to it. You may want to use an all-natural, scent-free soap for this to avoid mixing scents.
Wipe the inside of your reservoir out with your soft rag, paying special attention to any corners or nooks. Rinse out all the soap and thoroughly dry out the container. If you’re doing a between uses cleaning, you can stop here and reassemble your diffuser, ready to go for the next use.
SCRUB THE TIGHT SPOTS
If you’re doing your once monthly cleaning, you’ll also need to clean out the dispersal mechanisms of your diffuser. While you have your diffuser in pieces and unplugged, take a look at the interior of your diffuser. There may be an intake fan and a dispersal fan, as well as an aperture through which the mist disperses into the room.
If your diffuser came with a cleaning brush, this is the time to break it out. If not, you can use cotton swabs or a very soft toothbrush; don’t use anything that will scratch the surface. Use your cleaning tool of choice dipped in a little white vinegar to scrub out the nooks and crannies of your diffuser, paying special attention to fan blades and the diffusion aperture.
FILL THE RESERVOIR WITH WATER AND VINEGAR
There are going to be some spots in your diffuser that you can’t reach, no matter how much you scrub. You’ll want to use plain white vinegar to get the hard-to-reach parts of your diffuser. Vinegar is a natural substance that has a variety of properties that make it excellent for cleaning.
Reassemble your oil diffuser and fill the reservoir about half full with clean tap water. Add about ten or twelve drops of white vinegar to this and put the top back on your diffuser. Run it through a standard cycle to cut through any remaining oil buildup in the dispersal mechanisms of your diffuser.
CLEAN THE RESERVOIR AGAIN
Once your diffuser has run through its cleaning cycle with the vinegar, you’re going to need to give the reservoir another good rinse. This will remove any remaining vinegar from your diffuser and get rid of any oil the vinegar cut through. You won’t need to be as thorough with this scrubbing as with the last, since most of the oil buildup will already be gone.
Get a fresh soft cloth, get it damp, and add a few more drops of dish detergent. Wipe down the inside of the reservoir and then rinse it out again with clean water. Dry the reservoir out thoroughly before you replace it.
CLEAN THE ULTRASONIC PLATE
Your ultrasonic diffuser will also have a small plate that provides the vibrations that create the cool mist your diffuser disperses. Like the rest of your diffuser, this plate can become coated with oil. But it requires a little more care than the rest of your diffuser does.
Use a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol to gently wipe down the ultrasonic plate. Make sure it’s completely clean and oil-free. Allow the alcohol to completely evaporate before you reassemble your diffuser.
WIPE IT DOWN
While you have your diffuser disassembled, it’s also a good idea to wipe down the outside. The mist that your diffuser disperses into the air will drop some oil down onto the outside of the diffuser. Over time, this can start to build up and create a sticky mess on the outside surface.
Use a clean, damp cloth to wipe down the outside of your diffuser. Be careful around the electrical connections in your diffuser, especially if you can’t remove the cord from your diffuser. If there’s a lot of buildup, you can use a little white vinegar to cut through it.
REASSEMBLE YOUR DIFFUSER
When the outside of your diffuser is clean and the inside is dry, it’s time to reassemble your diffuser. Replace the reservoir, place the top back on, and reattach the electrical cord. Plug the diffuser back in, and it will be ready for its next use.
If you start noticing that your diffuser feels warmer than normal or the mist doesn’t seem to be going as far, it’s a good idea to perform this deep clean. If the problem doesn’t get better after that, contact the manufacturer about next steps to take. Otherwise, repeat this cleaning at least once a month.
LEARN HOW TO CLEAN AN OIL DIFFUSER
Oil diffusers can be an amazing addition to your home, bringing the benefits of a beautiful, natural room freshener and of aromatherapy. But knowing how to clean an oil diffuser is a crucial part of keeping one around. Do a light cleaning between each use, and about once a month or when problems start arising, take the time to do a good deep cleaning on your diffuser.
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