a blog written by Brandon Mowat

Don't Put Balsamic Vinegar in Your Air Purifier

A weekend chronicle of disassembling my Mila

Mon Apr 04 2022

I shouldn't have to be writing this – and to be quite honest, I wish that I wasn't writing this – but of all the nasty stuff that air purifiers claim that they can filter, the one thing that they cannot is balsamic vinegar.

For my entire adult life, I've lived in apartments in the city. There's not much airflow in these places when they typically have only 1-2 windows that fully open, at best. So when I started cooking more as I crept into my mid-twenties, getting an air purifier seemed like the sensible thing to do. After some quick research (and a fantastically well-targeted social media ad) I pulled the trigger on a Mila; new to Canada at the time in 2020.


She worked like a charm, just casually sitting off to the side in my kitchen, consuming all the bad stuff from the air and keeping me safe from toxins floating about. That was, until I spilled a bottle of balsamic vinegar in her.

At first I wasn't sure if it was bad at all, until the fumes from the vinegar started to waft into the room. Once my nose hairs started to burn I knew it was bad. My first thought, like many, was to call customer service and beg them to just send me a new one. The idea felt lazy and wasteful. It's not like I threw it off the balcony of my apartment, it just has some gunk in it. So like the proud engineer that I am, I got out my toolbox and started to take out the screws that I could see.

An Amateurs Guide to Disassembling Your Mila

Have your Mila facing you. The front plate is easy to remove – it's meant to be. It's held onto the unit by a couple magnets so that you can remove it to access the interchangeable filters. Take off the front plate, remove the filter and flip your Mila upside down.

You'll see about 12 screws – start un-screwing.

Also, make sure your Mila is off and unplugged. I probably should have started with that.

Your Mila should now looks like this:

mila 1

Next, we're gonna wanna keep unscrewing to that we can remove the 3 remaining side-panels and the air-intake partition.

mila 2

Now we're getting to the 🥩 and 🥔's of it all.

Mila, walls and partition removed

Once all the walls and the air intake partition are removed, we just have another 10-ish screws that are holding the air funnel/fan cover in place... Keep unscrewing. And also clean it, 'cause it's full of balsamic vinegar.

cleaning air funnel

Now... let's go deeper. Mila has a fancy touch screen on the top of her, bottom if you have her flipped upside down like she is now. Under that screen is her brain. We're going to have to remove that screen from the fan since they're attached still. Grab your screwdriver...

Milas brain looks dirty...

Milas brain IS dirty

Milas brain looks... full of balsamic vinegar. We're gonna wanna remove that. I'd recommend using a cotton swab with some isopropyl alcohol... but I don't have any so I'll just use some bundled up paper towel.

All cleaned up

The paper towel method actually doesn't work so bad since is just sorta sucks up all the liquid, but for a circuitboard and microchips, it might not be ideal. Who knows though, I'm just some guy. Regardless, the board looks pretty nice! Let's pray I haven't given her a lobotomy...

I guess I've cleaned her up as good as I could have... Let's start putting her back together! Basically, just do everything you just did, but in reverse.

extra screw?

An extra screw? She probably didn't need it anyway. Let's plug her in and see if we pulled off a miracle, or just created more landfill.

Mila is working again!

She works! The fan spins, the touch screen beeps, and she connects to my phone! We did it! Great work, and thanks for helping me along the way. I couldn't have done it without you.

mila end

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Written by Brandon Mowat
building useful things at Ada, in the city of Toronto

made from scratch