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You Might Be Forgetting to Clean Your Ceiling Fans—Here's What to Do

how to clean a ceiling fan

Design: Emily Henderson; Photo: Sara Liggoria-Tramp

You've mopped the floors, dusted the furniture, vacuumed every corner, and washed your linens. Your home is clean now, right? Well, you may have missed a spot.

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 those out-of-sight, out-of-mind thoughts, there's a good chance you haven't noticed the amount of dust lingering on those blades.

Below, read on to learn the best way to clean your ceiling fan and keep the air in your space as fresh as possible.

How Often Should You Clean Your Ceiling Fans?

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.

Things You'll Need

  • Ladder
  • Rag
  • All-purpose cleaner (or degreaser for kitchen fans)
  • Vacuum cleaner with a duster attachment, pillowcase, or long-handled duster
  • Vinegar (optional)

How to Clean a Ceiling Fan With a Vacuum

how to clean a ceiling fan

Design: Emily Henderson Design, Photo: Tessa Neustadt

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.

Step 1: 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 or 6-foot ladder, 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 depending on your ceiling height to easily access the fan.

Step 2: 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 the room, while counter-clockwise cools it. If your direction isn't in season, now is the time to change it.

Step 3: Use the Vacuum Dust Attachment

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.

Step 4: Vacuum the Room

When using this method, it's likely that the vacuum will send some dust flying. Plan to complete this chore before cleaning the rest of your home, then do a quick vacuum or sweep underneath the fan.

How to Clean a Ceiling Fan With a Pillowcase

how to clean a ceiling fan

Design: Emily Henderson; Photo: Sara Liggoria-Tramp

Step 1: Set Up the Ladder

It's time to bring out the ladder to reach your fan's height with ease. Rather than directly underneath the fan, it's easier to reach the blades if you position the ladder slightly to one side (then spin the blades as you go).

Step 2: Use the Pillowcase to Wipe Blades

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 it in the washer.

Step 3: Spot-Clean the Fan

Once the blades are wiped down, use your all-purpose cleaner and a rag to clean the center of the fan and its hardware. This prevents dust buildup that can shorten the life of your fan. For a DIY cleaning solution with items in your home, mix distilled white vinegar with water in a 1:1 ratio.

How to Clean a Ceiling Fan With a Long-Handled Duster

how to clean a ceiling fan

Design: Emily Henderson; Photo: Tessa Neustadt

Step 1: Choose Your Duster

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 deep cleaning.

Step 2: Dust Each Blade

Gently wipe down each blade (top and bottom) with your duster. Be careful not to push down too hard as you go—it's important not to stress or bend the fan's hardware while cleaning.

Step 3: Vacuum the Room

Similar to the vacuum method, a long-handled duster will likely leave some dust on your floor. Be sure to vacuum the room thoroughly to prevent dust from spreading once you turn on the clean fan.

How to Keep Your Ceiling Fan Clean Longer

how to clean a ceiling fan

Design: Emily Henderson; Photo: Sara Liggoria-Tramp

While cleaning your fan may not be on your top list of things to do, it's a chore that shouldn't be ignored to ensure the air is clean in your home. 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. Between deep cleans with an all-purpose cleaner, you can keep your fan from building up stray dust by using the duster method bi-weekly.

How to Get Rid of Streaks on a Ceiling Fan

how to clean a ceiling fan

Calimia Home

Whether you've neglected that ceiling fan for weeks (ahem, months) 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 that leaves streaks on your fan.

A mixture of liquid fabric softener and hot water will remove stubborn streaks and also keep your fan dust-free by repelling future particles from the blades.

If the globe is dirty, you can remove it and soak it for about an hour 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.