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How to Clean a Ceiling Fan

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Turn Off the Fan
A person turning off a light switch.

Before you shut it off for cleaning, take note of the direction the blades are spinning. If you haven’t switched the fan direction for the season, this is a good time to do so—clockwise warms a room; counter-clockwise cools it.

Tip: Before cleaning, place an old sheet or drop cloth under the fan to collect the dust. If neither is available, be sure to vacuum the floor under the fan afterward.

Position Yourself to Clean
A person getting on a step ladder.

Stand on a sturdy step stool or step ladder. No ladder? Here’s a simple tip for how to clean without a ladder. Use extendable dusters with flexible heads. This will get most of the dust and debris off the blades.

Slip a Pillowcase Over Each Blade
A folded white pillowcase on top of a table.

This handy trick will keep dust and dirt from flying all over the place. All the dust stays on the pillowcase, which makes cleanup a breeze.

  • Dust with a pillowcase: Slowly insert the ceiling fan blades, one at a time, into an old pillowcase. Once you place the pillowcase over a fan blade, use the case to wipe the dust off the sides, top and bottom. Pull the pillowcase away so that any dust will be wiped directly into the pillowcase. Once you’ve wiped each fan blade, take the pillowcase outdoors, turn it inside out and shake it. Then wash it in the laundry.
  • How to clean fan blades: Fan blades with heavy buildup need more attention. Wipe the fan blades and base with a mild cleaner and a cloth. You can also use a 50/50 white vinegar and water mix. Use extendable fan dusters to dust both sides of the blades as well as the base. 

Tip: Wear a dust mask and hairnet or cap when dusting underneath a ceiling fan to avoid inhaling dust particles.

Clean the Sides of the Blades
A person wiping a ceiling fan blade.

Don’t forget the sides of the blades. They get just as dirty as the rest of the blades. Wipe down the sides of the blades with the cleaner mix or use disinfecting wipes

Remove Globe and Clean
A person wiping dust off the globe of a ceiling fan.

If the ceiling fan has a glass globe, remove it and wash it in warm, soapy water. Dry thoroughly, then put them back on the ceiling fan.

Change Light Bulb
A person changing the light bulb on a ceiling fan.

This is a great time to swap out the light bulbs with higher-efficiency bulbs that will last longer and save you money. If the bulbs are still good, wipe them with a dry microfiber cloth to remove dust.

Pull Chain and Motor
A ceiling fan with a long pull chain.

Wipe the pull chain and motor with a cloth. Use compressed air to remove interior dust in the motor housing.

How to a Keep Ceiling Fan Clean
A person dusting a ceiling fan.

Now that your fan is clean, keep it clean with regular dusting. Dust the ceiling fan blades often to keep dust and dirt from building up. In warmer months, when the fan is running more often, give them a wipe down weekly. 

How to Clean a Box Fan
Two men in a room with a box fan.

Despite regular dusting, blades and interiors of box fans can accumulate dust and dirt and should be cleaned at least twice a year.

  • After turning off and unplugging the fan, remove the grill. With most fans, the grill can be removed by unfastening tabs by hand or unscrewing it with a screwdriver.
  • If the blades are removable, detach the blade cap and slide the blades free. 
  • Use a mild all-purpose cleaner or a mixture of water and dish soap to gently wash the blades and grill with a cleaning cloth. Disinfecting wipes can also be used to clean the blades. Do not spray cleaner directly onto the blades.
  • Rinse the blades and grill under warm running water. 
  • Set the blades and grill on a towel to dry.
  • Vacuum the nooks and crannies of the fan motor.
  • Use a clean cloth to wipe the base and the rest of the fan’s surfaces.
  • When all the parts are dry, reattach the blades, blade cap and grill.

How to Dust Box or Oscillating Fans

Although an oscillating fan can have more complicated mechanisms than a stationary box or window fan, they can be dusted and cleaned in essentially the same ways. Fans can accumulate dust quickly and should be dusted once a week without removing any parts.

  • Turn off and unplug the fan and wait until the blades have stopped spinning. 
  • Vacuum the grill with the vacuum cleaner’s brush attachment. 
  • Spray the blades of the fan through the grill with compressed air or a blow dryer until they’re free of dust.  
  • Use a dry cleaning cloth to wipe the grill, the base and the rest of the surfaces.

How to Clean a Window Fan
A bedroom with a window fan in the window.

Window fans sit in between sashes and help to circulate air in and out of your home. After time, they will need to be dusted and cleaned.

  • Remove: Unplug and remove the fan from the window.
  • Disassemble: Locate the screws around the perimeter of the fan and open up the fan. Separate the grill cover from the back of the fan.
  • Clean the large debris first: Remove loose matter from the fan parts with a paper towel or microfiber towel.
  • Wipe: Use a solution of hot water and mild or an all-purpose cleaner to wipe down the blades and all fan parts inside and out
  • Reassemble: Put the fan back together and reinsert it back into the window.
How to Clean an Attic Fan
An attic fan on a white background.

If you have an attic fan or whole house fan, dust at least once a season.

  • Use an extendable fan duster to dust the louvers and blades.
  • Once a year, clean the blades by spraying or soaking a clean cloth in a mild cleaner and gently wiping.
  • Vacuum the motor housing and around the fan wherever accessible.
  • Fans can collect dust very easily, so fan cleaning can be crucial to maintaining your home's air quality. Learn how to clean a fan to make sure your home looks as cool as it feels.

Fans can collect dust very easily, so fan cleaning can be crucial to maintaining your home's air quality. Shop The Home Depot for cleaning supplies to keep your fans dust and dirt free. Need ceiling fans cleaning supplies same-day? No problem. Order online and get free pickup in 2 hours.