How to Efficiently Clean the Fans in Your Home

Lawrence Bonk
Written by Lawrence Bonk
Updated September 1, 2022
A boy standing in front of a fan
Photo: Catherine Falls Commercial / Moment / Getty Images

Keep your fans looking fresh and clean

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Fans are a household staple: They cool us off when our home feels stuffy or humid and double as high-functioning white noise machines for light sleepers. However, fans accumulate dust, dirt, cobwebs, and other grime while pulling in the air. 

Keeping your fans nice and clean is not only for aesthetics, as clogged-up blades lead to shorter lifespans and decreased cooling power. Let’s review how to clean every fan in your house, including wiping down ceiling fans, tower fans, and everything in between.

Why Do I Need to Clean the Fans?

It’s easy to overlook fans during your regular house cleanings. They are oddly shaped and feature many dusty components that are difficult to reach. However, keeping your fans clean is extremely important for several reasons. 

  • Dirty fans blow dirty air: Unless you want to spend your entire paycheck on air purifiers, keep the fans clean to avoid spreading dusty air throughout the home. 

  • Clean fans work more efficiently: Clean your fans to experience optimal performance, and bask in the best breeze possible. 

  • Increases its lifespan: Most fans last around 10,000 hours of continuous use, but this metric decreases if the fan is dirty. 

  • Dirty fans are unappealing: If your fans are covered in cobwebs and dust, polish them up to add more shine to your personal space. 

How Much Does It Cost to Professionally Clean Your Fans?

Professional house cleaners have experience with the vast array of designs that comprise modern house fans. Hiring a local cleaning service costs $30 to $50 per hour, and they come equipped with the various tools needed to give your fans a thorough cleaning. When hiring a house cleaning service, specify what types of fans you’d like them to clean during their visit.

When to Clean Your Fans

As a general rule of thumb, clean your fans whenever you tidy up the home. Fans benefit greatly from a light weekly cleaning and a deep cleaning at the start of each season. If it’s been a while since you touched up the fans with oscillating blades, start with the deep cleaning before moving on to the lighter touch-ups. 

How to Clean the Fans in Your Home

A woman cleaning a fan
Photo: Chinnadit / Adobe Stock

Here are some foolproof methods for cleaning your home’s various fans.

Pedestal Fans 

  1. Make sure the fan is powered off and unplugged before cleaning. 

  2. For a light touch-up, use a damp towel to wipe down the grates, the blades, the base, and the remaining exterior components. 

  3. Some designs require grate removal to access the oscillating blades. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for this step. 

  4. For deeper cleaning, move the fan outdoors or an unused part of the home. This step prevents the scattering of dust in a highly-trafficked area.

  5. Take the fan apart with a screwdriver. 

  6. Fill a sink or large bucket with warm water and a small amount of dishwashing liquid. 

  7. Place the nut, blades, and grill portions into soapy water. Wash each component by hand, allowing them to dry for at least 15 minutes.

  8. Use a can of compressed air or a dry microfiber cloth to clear away any dust on or around the motor enclosure. 

  9. Rebuild the fan and reinstall it. 

Tower Fans

  1. Unplug the unit and power it down before cleaning.

  2. Use a vacuum with a brush attachment to suck up dust from the vents. Finish it off by wiping the exterior down with a dry microfiber cloth. 

  3. For a deeper cleaning, remove the screws that hold the casing to the fan’s frame. Keep the screws handy for rebuilding.

  4. Gently pry the casing from the top using a flathead screwdriver. Work your way down but don’t use too much pressure here to avoid damage.

  5. Lay the fan down on an even surface and use a can of compressed air to loosen and remove debris from the blades and nearby components.

  6. Vacuum the fan blades with the brush attachment, going down the length of the cylinder. 

  7. Vacuum the casing behind the blades, the motor, and the various brackets. 

  8. Reattach the casing and put the screws back in. 

Window Fans 

  1. Unplug the fan and power it down. 

  2. Removing the fan from the window is unnecessary for touch-up cleaning. Use a damp cloth and wipe down any easily accessible components. Allow the fan to dry for 30 minutes before plugging it back in.

  3. For a deep cleaning, remove the fan from the window. This process differs depending on the fan’s design. You can pull some fans out by hand while others require removing some screws. 

  4. Place the fan face-up on a towel or a plastic-covered work surface. Think about moving it to the garage, kitchen, or outdoors. 

  5. Remove the screws around the perimeter of the casing with a screwdriver. Then, separate the grill cover from the back of the fan. 

  6. Use a paper towel to remove any collections of loose matter from the various components, such as pet hair or lint buildup. 

  7. Fill a bucket with hot water and a mild cleaning liquid. Dip a sponge or rag into the solution, squeeze it out, and wipe down the parts inside and out. These include the blades, the great, the front panel, and various knobs. Use a brush to scrub down the holes in the grill grate. 

  8. Repeat the process with a new sponge or rag. 

  9. Let the fan dry for 30 minutes before reassembling it and placing it back into the window frame. 

Ceiling Fans

Cleaning a ceiling fan by using a telescoping pole
Photo: Lost_in_the_Midwest / Adobe Stock
  1. Power it down before cleaning, including shutting off power from the junction box. Ensure there’s another person on-hand to keep you steady as you climb the ladder.

  2. For a touch-up, grab a damp cloth, and wipe down the blades. Another option is to use a dedicated ceiling fan cleaning tool with a telescoping pole. 

  3. For a deeper clean, open the compartment surrounding the motor by hand or with a screwdriver, depending on your fan’s design. 

  4. Use canned air to spray the motor to remove dust and dirt. Close the compartment back up. 

  5. Next, work on the blades. Wipe each blade with a dry microfiber cloth to remove large dust accumulations. 

  6. Apply a mild cleaning solution to a dry rag and scrub each blade vigorously to finish the job. Repeat the scrubbing process if needed. 

  7. Wipe down light fixtures with a dry microfiber cloth and change out any dim light bulbs. 

  8. Wipe down the area underneath the ceiling fan, including tables and chairs. 

Bladeless Fans

  1. Unplug the fan and power it down. Use a moist cloth and gently rub down the circular surface of the fan.

  2. For a deeper cleaning, rub down the circular surface and then move on to oft-neglected components.

  3. Grab a vacuum with a brush extension. Locate the back vents, usually housed within circular grooves, and remove dust from these vents using the vacuum. 

  4. Clean the remaining components with a paper towel and let the fan dry before powering it back on. 

How to Keep Fans Clean 

Now that you’ve deep-cleaned every fan in your house, perform weekly touch-ups to keep them in pristine condition. There are some other ways, however, to ensure your fans avoid buildups of grime. 

  • Dust the fan blades regularly.

  • Consider placing air purifiers throughout the home to pick up floating dust particles.

  • Vacuum and clean the rest of the home regularly, limiting the amount of dust. 

  • Use a commercial anti-static, dust-repellent spray, such as Endust, on large ceiling fan blades.

DIY vs. Hire a Pro

A professional cleaning a ceiling fan
Photo: tylim / iStock / Getty Images Plus / Getty Images

Cleaning fans is a DIY-friendly task, but it quickly becomes overwhelming if you haven’t cleaned your fans in a while. Consider hiring a professional house cleaner if you have multiple ceiling fans in various rooms, saving yourself the frustration, and risk, of repeatedly climbing up and down a ladder. If you only have a few fans and most of them are on the smaller side, you can likely tackle this cleaning task within a few hours. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Dust and pollen can trigger allergy attacks in many people. Additionally, fan blades can hold onto potentially dangerous bacteria particles before they die out.

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