How to Clean Your Ceiling Fans

Because dust spinning round and round isn’t a good look

Candace Nelson
Written by Candace Nelson
Updated May 11, 2022
A stylish vintage lounge area with a ceiling fan
Photo: New Africa / Adobe Stock
Difficulty

Easy

No experience? No problem.

Time to complete

15 minutes

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What you'll need:

TOOLS

  • Ladder
  • Screwdriver
  • Canned air
  • Microfiber cloths or pillowcase
  • All-purpose cleaner
  • Soft cloth or cleaning wipes
  • Optional: A piece of tape

Dirt, dust and other ickiness can get caught on your ceiling fan, reducing its functions and spraying that dust around your home as the fan spins. What’s worse, covering the house in an even layer of dust can also aggravate allergies. To avoid constant sneezing, though, all you need to do is take the time to clean your ceiling fan every two months by following a few simple steps.

  1. Make Sure to Turn Your Ceiling Fan Off

    You don’t want to be up on a ladder and have someone absent-mindedly flip on the switch. If that’s a possibility, put a piece of tape over the switch or turn off the breaker to the room to deter anyone from switching on the fan.

  2. Place the Ladder

    Place a ladder or step stool under the fan, making sure you can comfortably reach the fan blades from a safe step. Double-check that the ladder is sturdy and have another person handy to spot you and hand up tools.

    If you don’t have a ladder or don’t feel comfortable climbing up, consider a special ceiling fan cleaning tool available in the cleaning aisle for about $30. These tools have telescoping poles, so you can stay firmly planted on the ground while dusting fan blades. You can also speak with a pro from a local house cleaning company and see if they can add this task to their regular cleaning rotation.

  3. Blow Dust Out of the Motor

    Step right up and open the compartment that surrounds the fan’s motor. You may need a screwdriver to do this. Using your canned air, spray the motor to remove any dust or dirt. Then, close the compartment back up.

  4. Clean the Blades

     A man wearing a mask cleaning a ceiling fan
    Photo: ltyuan / Adobe Stock

    Gently spin the fan until a blade is in easy reach. Start by wiping it with a dry microfiber cloth to catch loose dust. 

    Once you’ve removed the loose dust, use an all-purpose cleaner on a soft cloth or use a cleaning wipe to clean all sides of the blade until you've thoroughly removed the dirt and dust. This method is one quick way to reduce dust in your home.

    Some blades might be two-wipe jobs, especially in kitchens where grease creates a sticky layer that makes dust difficult to remove. If you haven’t cleaned them in a while or are in a room that sees a lot of use, expect to put in more effort scrubbing at the blades. Take a break if you need to—overhead work gets uncomfortable.

    One trick is to spray your cleaner on the inside of an old pillowcase and slide that over the blade. As you gently wipe, your ceiling fan blade is cleaned, and all the dust is nicely contained rather than dropping in your hair and on the furniture below.

    Repeat this step for each fan blade. Just keep your cleaning solution or wet wipes away from the motor, as moisture isn’t good for electrical components.

  5. Clean the Light Fixtures

    Don’t forget about the light fixtures, as those get dusty, too. One key to cleaning glass without streaks is letting the fixture air dry fully and then going over it again with a new dry cotton towel. Taking a little extra time will help you get the whole unit looking shiny and fresh.

    While you’ve got the ladder in position, this is also a good time to replace any burnt-out or flickering lights. Bonus points if you make sure to choose the right light bulb for your room and make the whole project a major upgrade.

  6. Clear the Air

    When cleaning a ceiling fan, the dust collected on the blades tends to fly around the room and settle in new places. Consider wiping any tables and chairs, passing a vacuum over the floor and furniture, and running an air purifier to eliminate dust and dirt once and for all.

  7. Maintain Dust-Free Blades

    Now that your blades are clean, some regular maintenance can help prevent a build-up of dust and dirt. The easiest way to keep your ceiling fan running efficiently is to dust it regularly. You can keep this and other regular projects under control by following a handy cleaning checklist.

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