How to Clean a Ceiling Fan, From the Blades to the Motor

Regularly cleaning your ceiling fans ensures the fixture runs smoothly and limits the spread of dust in your home.

The best way to clean your home is from top to bottom, and that usually starts with your ceiling fans. Whether they've been sitting still for months or you've recently used them to circulate air throughout your home, these fixtures can hold a lot of dust, pollen and other dander. This means that when you turn your fan on, you're moving those particles throughout your home.

Regularly cleaning your ceiling fans will help keep your air dust free. From the lights to the blades, there's a lot of areas on your ceiling fan where dust can hide, so you'll want to make sure you know how to clean it properly before getting started.

How Often to Clean Ceiling Fans

To limit dust buildup, you should clean your ceiling fans about once a month. "The blowing of air one way draws air, dust, and other floating particles into the fan from the opposite direction," says Latoya Parker, merchant of ceiling fans at The Home Depot. "Dirty fan blades and motors need to be dusted and cleaned on a regular basis to run smoothly."

What's more, neglecting to clean your ceiling fan regularly can affect your home's air quality. "The buildup of dust can also result in poorer air quality and may cause health issues for those within your home, so you'll want to make sure to keep your fan as clean as possible," says Leanne Stapf, COO of The Cleaning Authority. If you notice an accumulation of dust or dirt, clean your fans more frequently than once per month.

ceiling fan against wood beam ceiling
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What You'll Need

Make sure you have these cleaning supplies on hand before getting started.

  • Pillow case
  • Lint-free cloth(s)
  • Dish soap
  • Compressed air
  • Extendable duster
  • Ladder

How to Clean Ceiling Fans

Once you've gathered your materials, it's time to clean your ceiling fan. Turn the fan off before getting started and wear a face mask to avoid inhaling dust particles.

1. Dust Fan Blades

There are many methods you can use to dust your fan blades, like wiping them with a microfiber towel or duster. However, the most effective method is to trap the dust is by using a pillow case.

  1. Slowly place the pillowcase over the ceiling fan blade.
  2. Use the pillowcase to wipe the dust off the sides, top, and bottom of the fan blade.
  3. Pull the pillowcase away so the dust will be wiped directly into the pillowcase.
  4. Repeat on each blade.
  5. Take the pillowcase outside, shake out the dust, and wash in the washing machine.
  6. If the blades still have lingering dust, go over them again with a slightly damp, lint-free cloth.

2. Clean Blades

Once the blades are free of dust, wipe them again with a cleaning solution. Make sure you don't neglect the sides of the blades when cleaning. "They get just as dirty as the rest of the blades and are often overlooked in cleaning," says Parker.

  1. Create a mixture of water and dish soap.
  2. Wet a clean, lint-free cloth with the mixture.
  3. Wipe each blade clean.
  4. Wipe the blades dry with a clean cloth.

3. Clean Globe Lights

Many ceiling fans have globe lights, which also harbor a lot of dust and will need to be cleaned along with the blades. Make sure you turn the lights off and let them cool down before getting started.

  1. Remove the glass globes.
  2. Wash globes in warm, soapy water.
  3. Dry globes thoroughly.
  4. Wipe bulbs with a dry, microfiber cloth.
  5. Put glass globes back on the lights.

4. Clean the Pull Chain

Don't neglect the pull chain and motor when cleaning your ceiling fan. "Dusting the pull chain and motor are important steps to cleaning a ceiling fan," says Parker.

  1. Wipe the pull chain and motor clean with a cloth.
  2. Spray small amounts of compressed air to remove interior dust in the motor housing.

How to Clean High Ceiling Fans

If the ceilings in your home are high, you may need some extra supplies for cleaning. Use a sturdy step stool or ladder to reach high heigh ceilings. "Place the stool or step ladder on a level surface and make sure that it does not slide or skid," says Parker. "The stool or step ladder should allow you to climb high enough for cleaning a ceiling fan without overextending your reach."

Additionally, you may need an extendable duster with flexible heads for cleaning a high ceiling fan. "Wipe the dust from both sides of the blades, as well as the base," says Parker. "This will get most of the dust and debris off."

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