How to Clean a Fan

Dusty Oscilating Fan

 Steve Outram/ Photodisc/ Getty Images

Overview
  • Working Time: 15 mins
  • Total Time: 15 mins
  • Skill Level: Beginner

There is very little that is more refreshing than a cool breeze on a sweltering summer day. We can't always count on nature to bring the breeze but an electric or battery-powered fan does the job reliably well. Whether it is a big box fan, oscillating fan, window fan, bladeless fan, misting fan, or a hand-held personal fan, it should be cleaned regularly.

Even with all of the movement of air, the motor can draw in dirt and dust that can interfere with proper operation. If the fan is in an area near cooking or the use of aerosol beauty products, they can settle on the blades and housing and accumulate dust. But with just a few products and tools you probably have on hand, you can keep your fan working well and yourself cool.

How Often You Should Clean a Fan

At least once a week, turn off the fan and check for dust on the blades and housing. The cleaning frequency is highly dependent on the level of dust in your home or workplace. Weekly or bi-weekly cleaning is a good idea. A more thorough cleaning should be done at least quarterly especially during heavy-use periods.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Vacuum cleaner with brush attachment
  • Hairdryer
  • Microfiber cloth
  • Screwdrivers (flat head and Philips)
  • Spray bottle

Materials

  • Compressed air (optional)
  • Dishwashing liquid

Instructions

How to Clean a Fan Weekly

  1. Safety First

    Before cleaning any type of fan, make sure that the unit is unplugged from the wall outlet or, for battery-powered fans, that the unit is in the off position.

  2. Blast Away Blade Dust

    For weekly cleaning, you do not need to disassemble the fan to clean the blades. Use a hairdryer or compressed air to blow away dust from the surface of the blades. Use the coolest air setting on the hairdryer and keep it about six to ten inches away from the blades.

    Be sure to turn the fan around to clean the backside of the blades in the same manner.

  3. Vacuum Away Dust

    Using a handheld or full-sized vacuum with a dusting brush attachment, carefully go over all of the surfaces on the fan. Start at the top of the fan and vacuum the solid (for bladeless fans, the interior of the ring) or wire protective housing. Pay extra attention to the dust accumulation on the motor exhaust vents and the electrical cord.

  4. Wipe Away Smudges

    Dampen a microfiber cloth lightly and wipe away any smudges on the housing, especially around the controls. If you have a pedestal fan, clean the pole and the base.

How to Thoroughly Clean a Fan

  1. Work Safely

    Turn the unit to the off position. Unplug electrical fans and remove batteries from battery-powered fans.

    Warning

    Before you disassemble a fan for a thorough cleaning, consult the user manual or the manufacturer's website for instructions. It must be noted that disassembling the fan may void a warranty.


    Most manufacturers of bladeless fans have detailed instructions on their websites on how to safely and properly clean their units.

  2. Disassemble Outer Housing Components

    Using the appropriate type of screwdriver, loosen the screws holding the wire housing in place. Many fans also have clips that hold the wire mesh in place, Remove those as well. You may find that the rear wire housing is held onto the motor housing by a heavy-duty nut and cannot be removed until the blades have been removed.

    Be sure to keep all of the screws and small parts in a small container so that they don't get lost.

  3. Remove the Blades

    Most oscillating fans have a blade cap that holds the fan blades to the motor housing. Unscrew the cap on the front and remove each blade.

  4. Mix a Cleaning Solution

    Place three cups of cool water in a spray bottle and add two teaspoons of a dishwashing liquid that contains a grease cutter. Shake to mix well.

  5. Spray and Clean

    Place the wire housing and the blades of the fan in a large sink or bathtub. Spray thoroughly with the dishwashing liquid mixture. Wait a couple of minutes so the dishwashing liquid can cut through the grime. Then, use a microfiber cloth to wipe down every surface.

    Warning

    DO NOT place the motor housing or any electrical parts in water.

  6. Rinse and Dry

    Rinse every component well with cool water. Use a dry microfiber cloth to dry every component. Place the parts in a breezy, sunny area to air-dry for at least 30 minutes. Each piece should be totally dry before reassembling the fan.

  7. Clean the Rest of the Fan

    While the fan is disassembled, clean the remaining components as you would during weekly cleaning. Pay particular attention to the area where the blades attach. Use a vacuum dust brush to remove any dust that may be trapped.

    If you have a bladeless or tower fan that contains an air filter, remove and clean the filter or replace it.

  8. Reassemble the Fan

    Remembering the order the fan was disassembled, start with the last piece removed and reattach it to the motor base. There should be no small parts leftover after a proper reassembly!