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How to Clean a Fan

Woman Wiping the Blades of a Pedestal Fan

Woman Wiping the Blades of a Pedestal Fan

Y our fan may work continuously all summer to provide you with the benefits of cooler, fresher air, but this won’t prevent it from gathering dust. One of the worst enemies of appliances, dust is so fine that can, in time, wreck them. This is why it is important to perform daily and periodical cleaning on all of your devices and once in a while get all dirt out of your fans.

It is necessary to acknowledge that there are many types of fans, with different designs and functions, so multiple cleaning routines are in question. Thus, we will focus on explaining the maintenance steps for 5 main fan categories: conventional oscillating and window fans, tower fans, ceiling fans, misting fans, and bathroom exhaust fans. The steps are rather simple, so there’s no doubt that with a little patience you can pull it through yourself. Just follow our advice and soon you will be able to enjoy the efficiency of a clean unit.

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Woman Wiping the Blades of a Pedestal Fan

Why is it necessary to routinely clean the fan?

The main purpose of the fan is to circulate the air inside a room. Now, think of a moment when your device was particularly dirty, all covered in dust and dirt. When you press the on button, the blades start rotating and all the dust they have gathered gets released into the air. At this point, the air is contaminated and can make you sick. Especially family members who are more sensitive to dust or suffer from asthma and allergies will feel this drop in the indoor air’s quality.

A fan should freshen up the air and reduce the intensity of smoke or odors, but if it isn’t properly maintained, these pollutants too can stick to its components. If your unit is placed next to the cooking area, the oils that float in the air when you are cooking can deposit on it and make it sticky. Thus, it is easier for smoke, dust, pet hair, and other particles to attach to the grille and blades and make them particularly dirty and smelly.

How often should you clean the fan?

It depends a lot on the area you are living in. If dust is a common problem in your city or you are positioned in the proximity of a construction site, you will probably need to perform light maintenance every week and a thorough one every three months. If dust is not such big of a problem, then you should check the blades of your device every week. If there are signs of dust, it’s time for maintenance. And never forget to check the ceiling units. They are the largest in your home, so they will gather important quantities of dust.

How to Maintain Conventional Oscillating and Window Fans

The units in this category have the same functioning principle and include the same components. Conventional oscillating models include:

  • Pedestal Fans;
  • Table Fans;
  • Floor Fans;
  • Wall Fans;
  • Box Fans.

These units are all powered by an electrical motor, which actions the blades and makes them spin at high speed. The blades are caged by two grilles, designed to prevent accidents and protect the blades at the same time.

If you feel that a pedestal fan would take too much of your floor space, take a look at the best window fans, and solve the space problem once for all. The installation is easy enough to perform it yourself, and the costs of running this unit are impressively low.

Light Maintenance – Once a Week

  • Step 1 – Power off and unplug the unit - This step is essential for your safety. You should never clean any device before disconnecting it from the power source
  • Step 2 – Blow the dust away - Use a hairdryer or an air compressor to blow the dust from the blades. Pick the coolest option on the hairdryer and keep it at a distance of 6 to 10 inches from the blades. Rotate the fan and perform this task on both sides to ensure that all the dust has been removed.
  • Step 3 – Vacuum the dust - Once you’re done cleaning the blades, other components will require your attention. Use a handheld vacuum or a full-size one and vacuum the exterior of the unit, insisting on the motor exhaust vents and power cord.
  • Step 4 – Dislodge stubborn dirt - Use a damp cloth to clean the stand and buttons, insisting on the spaces where oils may have deposited, making the unit sticky.

Thorough Cleaning – Once Every 3 Months

Warning! Before disassembling the unit, make sure to check the user’s manual. In some cases, opening the unit apart may void the warranty.

  • Step 1 – Make safety a priority - Shut down the unit and unplug it. If the unit is working on batteries, turn the switch to off. You can pull the batteries out for enhanced safety.
  • Step 2 – Disassemble the housing - Use a screwdriver to unscrew the bolts that keep the wire housing in place. Some models may have clips holding it in place so you will need to remove them as well. You will notice that you can only remove the front grille, as the back grille is held in place by a knot and cannot come out until the blades are removed.
  • Step 3 – Remove the blades - Unscrew the bolts keeping the blades connected to the blade cap and take them out one by one.
  • Step 4 – Prepare the cleaning solution - You will need water and dishwashing soap. The proportions should be 2 tsp of soap to 3 cups of cold water. Pour them into a sprayer and make sure to shake until they blend.
  • Step 5 – Wash the parts - Place the blades and the grille in a large recipient, a sink, or a bathtub and spray them with the solution. Let the soap act upon the grease, then use a cloth to wipe out all the dirt.
  • Step 6 – Rinse and dry - Place the parts you’ve washed under running water and clear all the soap. Then wipe them with a dry cloth and set them in a sunny, well-vented space to dry.
  • Step 7 – Clean the non-washable components - Use a dust brush to clean the dirt and dust the area where the blades attach and pursue the steps from weekly maintenance to finish the job.
  • Step 8 – Assemble the fan back - Start from the last piece removed and add them in their removal order until you reach the first piece removed. In the end, check that all pieces are back in their place and no small part has been left unattached.

Man Cleaning the Filters of a Tower Fan

Tower Fan Maintenance Explained

Under this category, you will find all the fans that have hidden blades. Some of them are called bladeless, as the blades are not visible at all. Nevertheless, if you are cleaning a more advanced device, which comes with additional functions like humidification, air filtering, or heating, you will want to pay extra attention.

Weekly Maintenance

  • Step 1 – Unplug the unit - If the unit was previously working, power it off, disconnect it from the power source, and wait for the blades to stop.
  • Step 2 – Dust the exterior of the unit - Use your vacuum device with the brush attachment to suck all the dust, dust mites, and lint that may have gathered on the casing. Insist on the vents where the air goes in and out, as they should be especially dirty.
  • Step 3 – Dislodge dust from the vent - A supplementary step implies the use of an air compressor to blow the dirt gathered inside the vents.
  • Step 4 – Test the fan - Power the fan back on and allow it to blow all the dust that is left in the vents. Let it circulate the air for a couple of minutes and check if everything is working as it should.

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Deep Cleaning – Every 3 Months

  • Step 1 – Power off and unplug the device - Leave it unplugged throughout the whole cleaning process to make sure it doesn’t reactivate.
  • Step 2 – Open the unit - Take out the bolts keeping the housing closed. You will need a Philips screwdriver for this step. Then proceed to separate the two parts of the housing. If they don’t come apart easily, use a flat-head screwdriver, and gently get it through the gap between them.
  • Step 3 – Detach the front panel - Be aware that the panels are connected through a series of tubes that can easily be broken. So, detach only the front panel and set it aside.
  • Step 4 – Use an air compressor to dislodge dirt - Place the fan on the horizontal and use a steady pressure to blow dirt off the blades. They don’t need to be removed.
  • Step 5 – Suck the excess of dust - Place the fan in a lying down position and use a vacuum with a brush attachment to dislodge the dust and debris.
  • Step 6 – Oil the fan’s bearings - Spray some lubricant on the bearings at the end of the unit’s column. You can use WD-40 or for long-lasting results car grease. If your unit has been making a lot of noise, these rings have probably not been greased in a while.

How to Clean a Ceiling Fan

These devices can be positioned either in the attic, the bedroom, or the kitchen and are often seen as part of the house. But they tend to gather the most dust and grease, so it is essential to keep an eye on them and perform maintenance on time.

Take a look at the best bedroom ceiling fans and select a model that can make your summer nights more restful. With excellent airflow capacities, they can also remove odors and smoke, keeping the air fresh and safe to breathe.

Weekly Dusting

  • Step 1 – Turn off the fan - Make sure it is no longer connected to an energy source to avoid any accidents. With their large blades, ceiling units can be more dangerous than other models.
  • Step 2 – Select cleaning tools - If the ceiling is at a normal height, a ladder and a pillowcase will be your weapons. If the ceiling is tall, you will need a duster with a long arm, which can easily be made at home, and a large sheet.
  • Step 3 – Dust the blades - Step on the ladder and use the pillowcase opening to grab each blade and dust it. All the dust will be collected inside. For tall ceilings, place the sheet on the floor to capture dust, climb the ladder and use the duster to swipe dust from both sides of the blades.

Deep 3-Month Maintenance

  • Step 1 – Once again, make sure it is safe to clean the fan - Power it off and wait for the blades to stop spinning
  • Step 2 – Follow the weekly ritual - Perform regular dusting before getting down to serious cleaning
  • Step 3 – Use a dust repellent - To prevent dust from depositing, use a solution made of 4 parts water and 1 part fabric softener. Dip a cloth in it and wipe the blades. If the blades are greasy, before applying the repellent, use a solution of dishwashing liquid and water to remove the grease.
  • Step 4 – Clean the motor housing - Use a cloth to wipe the housing and the pull chain. Then use an air compressor to blow the dust that has built inside.
  • Step 5 – Clean bulbs, globes, and shades - All the accessories should be carefully wiped and the bulbs replaced if they are no longer functional.

Man Cleaning the Grille of a Misting Fan Outdoors

How to Clean a Misting Fan

Misting units are basically conventional oscillating fans that have an extra function, namely, they use water to generate a fine mist and create a cooler environment around them. Thus, for weekly and deep cleaning you should follow the steps from conventional oscillating and window fans cleaning.

The only thing that is different here is the presence of the water nozzle, which should be maintained as follows:

  • Step 1 – Detach the nozzle – Remove any mineral build-up by tapping it on a hard surface.
  • Step 2 – Soak the nozzle – The tapping may not be enough to remove all the deposits. In this case, fill a recipient with nozzle cleaner or white vinegar and let it soak for 30 minutes.
  • Step 3 – Check if the nozzle isn’t clogged anymore - If the operation was a success, place it back. If it is still filled with mineral deposits, it is time to replace it.

Turn your outdoor space into a paradise. See our selection of outdoor misting fans for high-quality products, designed to cover gardens and patios in a refreshing fine mist.

Bathroom Exhaust Fan Maintenance Explained

  • Step 1 – Cut the power source - Use the switch to turn off the fan.
  • Step 2 – Remove the front cover - Pull the cover until you can see the wire clips that keep it connected to the fan. Remove the clips and the cover should come off easily.
  • Step 3 – Vacuum the cover - Place it on an old sheet and use a bristle brush vacuum to remove dust and dirt.
  • Step 4 – Clean inside the housing - Equip your vacuum with a dust attachment and suck the dust inside the fan and around the motor.
  • Step 5 – Reassemble the fan - Reattach the front cover and tighten the wire clips. Run the fun to see if everything is in order.

The Bottom Line

There’s only one way to keep your home dust-free, and this is by keeping all the appliances and furniture clean. Vacuum cleaning once a week is essential, and an air purifier for dust can be of real help if you live in an area exposed to pollution. Nevertheless, as shown, fans can be great dust collectors so, even if it seems a bother, you should take your time and clean them periodically. This will reduce the number of contaminants that travel indoors and extend the life of your devices. Their motors struggle more to run when they are covered in dust just like your lungs struggle more to breathe when the air is filled with allergens and pollutants.

Lillian Davies
Lillian is a fresh college graduate who has lived in Tucson for most of her life, battling the torrid heat ever since she was a child. She is quite versed in the topic of thermal comfort and what solutions work to make conditions more bearable when the temperatures go haywire, which makes her knowledgeable in the topics she writes about here. Since she is a perfectionist, Lilian always takes time to polish her articles before release, which makes her an irreplaceable part of the team.
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