How to Clean a Fog Machine in 5 Easy Steps | Cleaning Fog Machines

  • By: Kevin
  • Date: May 26, 2023
  • Time to read: 7 min.
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To clean your fog machine, you want to use 100% distilled water and run it through the machine. This water has no impurities making it perfect for cleaning the fogger. After cleaning, make sure to run an amount of fog fluid through the machine as this fluid must be kept in the tubing, or it will not turn on the next use.

The idea of a fog machine is to create an environment that makes it seem like you’re in the middle of a dream. But what if your dream is turning into a nightmare?

The process of cleaning one may be more complicated than you think! I’ll walk you through using the right fog machine cleaner so that you can continue experiencing this magical atmosphere without the fear of getting caught up in a mess.

How does a Fogger Machine Work

A fog machine has fog fluid that usually consists of water and glycols. The fluid is per fog machine, so when purchasing a fog machine, make sure that you get the specified fog fluid with it.

If it is not the correct fluid, the fog will not come out looking right, or it could even not work altogether. The heater for the specific fog machine you purchased is set to work exactly with that mixture.

Using the wrong type of fog fluid and the heater may not be able to heat it correctly. Also, keep in mind the cheaper the fog machine is, the cheaper the heater is.

The fog fluid tank holds the fluid and will pump it through a coil that is next to a heater. The heater warms it up and turns the liquid into an aerosol.

This basically turns the fluid into water droplets, and the hose will spray this converted fog fluid into the air creating the fog effect.

When you have a machine that is on the budget side, it will take longer to heat up when you first start the fog machine. It may also get to the point where the fluid in the lines needs more time to heat up, thus causing a break in the fog show till it heats back up.

When you use a fog machine often, it will need to be cleaned no matter what you pay for it. Let’s break this down, so you know exactly how to clean it and get it working correctly again.

How to Clean Fog Machines? 5 Easy Steps

Let’s break down the cleaning fog machines in a few steps so you can get your parties started quickly!

1. Ingredients Needed to Clean

When you are ready to clean the fog machine, you will just need to purchase a gallon of distilled water. You may also read other articles recommending using water and vinegar, but from our experience, vinegar really doesn’t serve a purpose, so using only distilled water would be the proper cleaner.

2. Preparing the Fog Machine

First, we want to remove any liquid in the fog fluid tank, make sure to spill it away and dispose of it. Fog fluid is nice as it can last up to 3 years if it is unopened, but once opened, it only lasts about two months.

Let’s empty the tank so we can do a proper cleaning. Before doing this, make sure the fog machine is unplugged.

3. Cleaning Fog Machines

Next, cleaning fogging machines, we need to fill the fog fluid tank with distilled water. Once it is filled up, make sure it is on a level surface and simply plug in the machine, then turn the machine on.

It will then work similarly to how it is when you are using it, but now it’s cleaning your fog machine by opening the somewhat clogged holes. This is the easiest way to clean a fog machine but keep in mind you can only do it if it is not completely clogged up.

4. Knowing When to Clean Your Fog Machine

Regular maintenance is only needed when the fog machine has a decreased output. If you are noticing a small amount of fog when it is producing good fog, then we recommend cleaning it.

Make sure not to use a cleaning solution inside the machine, or it could damage it forever. It’s only hard cleaning fogging machines if you use a solution instead of distilled water as recommended.

It’s very important not to wait till the machine is completely clogged up.

5. Fog Machine is Cleaned

Now that the machine is turned on and running, you will just let it continue to run. Keep in mind this will be without fog. This may even take a second run-through, depending on the hours of use and how partially clogged the machine is.

Having this water based will not harm the machine as long as it is distilled water. Please do not try this with regular water, as this will not help clean your fog machine but the opposite.

How to Fix a Fog Machine after being left in Storage

A lot of people love Halloween parties and purchase fogging machines just for this time of the year. They love having the effects fog creates on a dark spooky night to help them win the scariest house in the neighborhood.

They want to make sure this continues, and they only buy a machine once. So a lot of people say to themselves how to clean my fogger machine, and they google it and find the answer here.

The issue is after you are done cleaning it before you store your fog machine away, you must turn the fog machine on with fog fluid.

The machine must have fog fluid in the heating coil when stored, or it may not turn back on again. If you forgot to run it afterward last year, then you may need a new machine.

How do you Unclog a Fogging Machine?

If the smoke machine is no longer producing any fog, and it seems like the fog fluid is just stuck, and nothing is coming out, then the fogging machine is completely clogged. Once it’s clogged, there is no way for cleaning your machine without taking the whole thing apart, which we do not recommend.

If this was a low-quality machine, I would just purchase another one and remember cleaning is very important when you notice a decrease in the amount of fog that is coming out the hose nozzle.

Can you use Regular Water in a Fog Machine?

The short answer is no, you can’t use regular water in a fog machine. The reason you can’t use mineral or tap water is that both contain impurities, and these impurities will actually clog up the system.

If you purchase distilled water, it contains no impurities and will help flush the machine to remove partial clogs. If you don’t notice an increase in fog quality output after doing this you may want to try it a second or even third time by filling the tank with distilled water and letting it run.

What do you Wash Fog Machines with?

Cleaning the outside of fogging machines, any all-purpose cleaning solution, is fine. Just take care not to get any on the inside of the unit. You can always rinse the outside with some water as well if it doesn’t appear dirty.

Make sure you wait till the fog machine has been off for a while as the temperature of the machine will get hot as the heater heated the coil filled with fog fluid, and that will take a while till it cools down. If the machine was on the cheaper side, it might take longer to cool off.

The manufacturer instructions may have more information on how long it takes till it cools down for that specific model.

How to Dispose of Fog Machine Liquid

When you need to dispose of the fog fluid from the tank, simply pour it down the sink. These fluids are made up of water and Glycol, which is food-grade and will even break down over time.

These are not harmful toxic chemicals, so pouring them into the sink will dispose of them. We recommend emptying the tank after events like Halloween before you store it away for the year or if you are going to clean the fogger machine, as stated above.

Remember to always leave some of the fog fluid in the workings of the machine, though, like the fogger coil that holds the liquid inside next to the heater. If you wish to rinse the fog fluid tank out, make sure not to use regular water but only distilled.

There is also a way to make fog liquid without using Glycerin.


If you were thinking about cleaning fogging machines, I recommend doing it well before the parties are about to start. I hope this article was able to answer it for you and tell you exactly when to do so. Doing it at the wrong time can cause the machine to not work anymore, so make sure you read through everything, so your fogger is running smoothly with high fog outputs.

Did you know fogging machines can leave residue, read more about it here!

Please be careful and use at your own risk
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