Ceiling fans are a great way to enhance both the style and function of nearly any room, but they can pose a challenge when it comes to cleaning. Even still, it is important to clean your fan regularly to preserve both its aesthetics and function.
Besides being unsightly, letting dust and grime build up on your fan can lead to humming, wobbling and possibly even motor failure. Further, when large amounts of dust are on the blades and the fan is running, that dust and dirt spreads across the room – ew!
While necessary for its longevity, cleaning your ceiling fan on a regular basis (monthly or quarterly, depending on its location and amount of build-up it collects) doesn’t have to be a complicated ordeal. The height of the fixture and the tricky angles of the blades can require a unique approach. Here are a few tips for cleaning your ceiling fan with minimal fuss.
First and foremost, be certain the fan is powered off and the blades are not moving. If using a step-stool or ladder, ensure it is in good working order and you are following basic ladder safety protocols. Concussions and contusions should not be part of the process!
Use a Dusting Tool
One of the many long-armed dusters on the market can help you reach your fan from the floor, without the help of a ladder or stool. However, unless it captures the dust (a la Swiffer or the like), you’ll want to protect the area below the fan from the dust. Cover the furniture and surfaces with a sheet, drop-cloth or tarp. You may also want to cover your mouth and nose to avoid inhaling dust.
Begin cleaning your fan by dusting the canopy portion of the fan (flush to the ceiling) and work your way down the down rod and fan motor. Then, clean the top of each blade by moving the duster very slowly from one end to the other. Repeat on the under-side of the blades. Once you’ve finished, take the tarp or drop-cloth outside to shake off the dust. This method is ideal (and convenient!) if you clean your fan regularly, keeping it free from significant build-up.
Use the flat dusting attachment on your vacuum cleaner to clean your fan. It’s easy and quite tidy as the dust is sucked directly into the vacuum instead of scattered about the space. You need to have proper access to the fixture and blades, so using a stool or step ladder may be in order, depending on how high you can reach with the attachments. Run the vacuum attachment across the blades slowly in one direction for the most effective cleaning. You can also vacuum the motor and light kit as well.
Pillow Case Trick
This is simply conventional dusting with a creative twist which helps contain the dust you’re removing from the fan. It still requires shimmying up a ladder or using a stool, but allows you to skip worrying about dust flying everywhere in your space. Use a pillowcase to cover a single fan blade as you would cover a pillow. Place the pillowcase around the blade, and pull it off slowly while holding the blade from both the top as well as bottom. This ensures the dust wipes off and goes straight into the pillowcase, leaving no grime behind on the blades. The debris is tidily contained in the pillowcase. Repeat this process for each blade.
No pillowcase handy? You can also use a glove or a soft dust cloth for cleaning. Be sure to protect the space below as the dust and dirt will not be contained. Whichever method you use, be sure you avoid placing extra pressure on the blades – you could inadvertently adjust the blade pitch which would affect the fan’s performance.
Sometimes, dusting simply isn’t enough. Fans in kitchens can become very dirty and we’ve all seen a very neglected fan that needs a bit more love than a quick dusting. For cleaning a super-grimy ceiling fan, you may need to use a bit of mild soap and water. In such cases, it is imperative you turn off the power to the fixture and avoid using any caustic or abrasive cleaners which would damage the fan’s finish.