This is The One Place You're Forgetting to Clean — Here's What to Do

emily henderson bedroom ceiling fan

Design: Emily Henderson Design, Photo: Tessa Neustadt

You've mopped the floors, dusted the furniture, vacuumed every corner, and washed your linens. Your home is clean now, right? Wrong.

A well-placed ceiling fan can be a piece of both function and beauty, but a dust-covered ceiling fan is a recipe for disaster. Not only can mounds of dust shorten the life of your fan, but we can't think of anything less "hygge" than a face full of dust when you turn it on. And because we all fall victim to "out of sight, out of mind," there's a good chance you haven't even considered the amount of dust lingering on those blades. Your home isn't truly clean if your ceiling fans are covered in dust.

To really stay on top of it, you should dust your fan at least once every two weeks. Doing so will not only ensure cleaner air quality, but it will also make for a quick 60-second job every time you clean it. If it's been longer than a few weeks, don't despair—just expect to spend about 10 to 20 minutes dusting and deep cleaning. Here's what you need to get started.

Supplies to Clean a Ceiling Fan

  • A step ladder
  • A rag
  • An all-purpose cleaner (or a degreaser for kitchen fans)

And your choice of:

  • A vacuum cleaner with a duster attachment
  • A pillowcase
  • A long-handled duster

How to Clean a Ceiling Fan

This may be the easiest chore you tackle all week — a regularly dusted ceiling fan takes seconds to clean. If you need a little motivation to get started, don't worry—cleaning eons of dust off your ceiling fan is oddly satisfying. Here's everything you need to know to make your home clean from top to bottom.

Set Up the Ladder

It's time to stop using a dining chair to reach tall things. Even the smallest apartments can hold a fold-up step stool, and it really is a must-have when it comes to keeping your home clean (especially those often-forgotten about spaces). Before you start cleaning, line up a step stool or ladder to give yourself enough space around the fan.

Step stool
Rubbermaid Folding 3-Step Steel Frame Stool $50

Examine the Damage

If you've kept up on cleaning your ceiling fan, this may be a very quick chore. Check the top of the blades, the lightbulbs and the globe for dust and grime. If your fan is in the kitchen, you may be dealing with a greasier situation and will need additional tools (i.e. a degreaser and a sponge).

Before you start, notice which way your fan is spinning. A clockwise fan warms a room, while counter-clockwise cools it. If your direction isn't in season, now is the time to change it.

Vacuum Duster Method

A dust attachment is a flat, wide, hard-bristled piece that allows you to sweep up dust without swirling it around. If your vacuum has one and your ceiling fan is in pretty good shape, this is a good place to start. Attach the duster and sweep the top and bottom of the blades in the same direction. You may need to go over each blade a few times to sweep up all the dust.

If the vacuum sent some dust flying, you may need to do a quick sweep of your floors after you're done.

Pillowcase Method

Don't have a duster attachment or looking for an even easier method, consider the pillowcase hack. For this cleaning method, all you need is a pillowcase! With a clean pillowcase, slide the fabric around each blade, using your hand to sweep over the top and the bottom of the blade.

The best part of this method is that all of the dust stays trapped inside the pillowcase. Once you've cleaned all the blades, simply turn it inside out, shake it outside and toss in the washer.

Cotton pillowcases work the best, but any old pillowcase you have laying around will do the job.

Long-Handled Duster Method

If you're someone who likes to have a tool available for every situation, a long-handled duster comes in handy for a ceiling fan. Look for a duster that bends to allow you to reach the tops of the blades easily without a ladder. This is a great method for upkeep once you've given your fan a good cleaning.

Swiffer starter kit
Swiffer Swiffer Dusters Starter Kit $18

What About Caked-on Dirt or Dust?

Whether you've neglected that ceiling fan for months (ahem, years) or your fan is in a room like a kitchen or a patio, you may have to do a bit more work to get it truly clean. A good microfiber cloth and an all-purpose cleaner or a degreaser will cut through caked-on dirt or grease.

If the globe is dirty, you can remove it and soak it to break down hard-to-clean grime. A can of compressed air can help clean the dust out of the inside of your fan's motor and keep it running at peak performance.

A mixture of liquid fabric softener and water will help keep your fan dust-free by repelling future particles from the blades.

While cleaning your ceiling fan may not be on your top list of things to do, it's a chore that shouldn't be ignored. Plus, as with most chores, the more you stay on top of it the easier it will be to keep that ceiling fan in tip-top shape.

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