How to clean a fan for a cool, dust-free space

For a cool and spotless space, you'll want to know how to clean a fan properly. Professionals advise a basic step-by-step method plus, a couple of surprising alternatives...

A hand cleaning a fan with a green cloth
(Image credit: Mr.tharakorn Saengsuratham / EyeEm / Getty)

Have you ever wondered how to clean a fan? Perhaps yours has been going non-stop all summer (we don't blame you, it's been a hot one), or - shock, horror - you've never cleaned yours and want to finally do it. 

Even the best fans aren't self-cleaning, although some need much less cleaning than others, thanks to a more closed design. If you really don't like cleaning anything, you will want to go for a bladeless option. Even so, anything that circulates air around your room will need a bit of cleaning everyone in a while. Here's how to clean a fan, regardless of your model or make. 

How to clean a fan step-by-step

Cleaning a fan is easy and ensures yours isn't just blowing dust around when all you're doing is trying to cool down your room... In order to keep yours clean and hygienic, follow these steps, recommended by Toby Schulz, who is a cleaning and home maintenance expert and the CEO & Co-Founder of Maid2Match (opens in new tab).

1. Turn off and unplug 

This goes without saying, but always switch off and unplug your fan before cleaning. Water and electricity = big no-no. 

2. Vacuum the surface 

Now, using the best vacuum you have, start vacuuming the exterior of your fan. Schulz says: 'vacuum the surface using a dust brush attachment, paying extra attention to any nooks and crannies. Then wipe down the surface with a damp microfiber cloth (opens in new tab) to remove any smudges.'

3. Don't neglect the pole and base

It's not just about cleaning the fan box itself - the fan pole and base collect a lot of dust, too. And don't forget any buttons and switches your fan may have - these will collect tons of bacteria over time from your fingers (sorry, but it's true).

4. Disassemble your fan

'Check the manual for how to disassemble your fan. You either need to unscrew the housing, or remove the clips holding it in place. Then unscrew the blade cap and remove the blades.'

5. Clean with a DIY spray solution

You don't need a commercially formulated product to clean your fan. Just:

  • Mix 2 teaspoons of dish soap (opens in new tab) with 3 cups of cold water inside of a spray bottle.
  • Spray the housing and the blades, then wipe clean with a microfiber cloth.
  • Rinse thoroughly and dry with a clean cloth.

6. Reassemble the fan

'Reassemble your fan, making sure to return all the components to their proper place.'

How do you clean the dust out of a fan?

A vacuum with a dust attachment is your best bet (a cordless vacuum model should work fine also) as it 'will get rid of any dust on the surface of the fan. It will also assist with cleaning the dust from a pedestal fan.' Says Schulz.

How do you clean a fan without dissembling it? 

Angela Lee from Hellamaid (opens in new tab), a top-rated cleaning company in Ontario,
Canada has the following top tips for cleaning a fan without disassembling it:

Use clean sand or salt

'Any loose dust and debris that has clung to the blades of the box fan, window fan, or pedestal fan may easily be removed using this technique. This approach is also super easy and basic. Take a large sheet or piece of paper first. Next, place your fan—whether a box, window, or pedestal fan—on top of it. Both pointing the blade up or down are acceptable. After that, clean sand or salt (opens in new tab) should be poured, dry, and through the grill. The dust and spills will then be cleaned up when the sand or salt passes through the fan’s blades and onto the paper.'

Use an air compressor

'you need to take the fan to an open area like a patio, carport, or basement when utilizing an air compressor. Grab your air compressor (you can buy one on Amazon) (opens in new tab), plug in the power wire, and clean the fan. This technique can clean the fan effectively. To clean the fan blades, use a stick wrapped in a damp towel to remove any remaining dust.'

Finally, using a vacuum is a failsafe way to clean your fan without disassembling it: 'You may also use a standard vacuum cleaner to clean a pedestal or table fan. The dust and debris that have accumulated in the fan’s grill may be removed using a vacuum. You only need to place the fan in a safe open area. If you are unable to move it to an open area, such as a patio, you may simply unclip the grill and clean it in the toilet or bathroom.'

How often should you clean a fan?

According to Schulz, 'you should give your fan a quick clean every 1–2 weeks, and deep clean it every 3 months. Before cleaning, make sure it’s turned off and unplugged.'

Toby Shulz
Toby Schulz

Toby is a cleaning and home maintenance expert and the CEO & Co-Founder of Maid2Match (opens in new tab).

Anna is Content Editor at Real Homes. She moved to the world of interiors from academic research in the field of English Literature and photography. She is the author of London Writing of the 1930s and has a passion for contemporary home decor and gardening. At Real Homes, she covers a range of topics, from practical advice to interior and garden design. 

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