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How To Clean Your Neglected Bathroom Ceiling Fans

Learn how to get rid of all that caked-on grime on and around your bathroom fans.

Cleaning the bathroom ceiling fans has to be one of the cleaning tasks I procrastinate most. And that’s saying a lot because there are plenty of cleaning jobs I like to procrastinate! 😉

I think it’s the fact that it involves unplugging and unscrewing things before you can even start cleaning that makes me drag my feet. But like most cleaning tasks, it simply has to get done, and it may even be more important than you think.

Why Is It Important To Clean Bathroom Ceiling Fans?

Having a clean and functional exhaust fan in your bathroom not only helps with bathroom odor, it also removes moisture and helps prevent mold and mildew, which can become a health issue if left unaddressed. And a small bathroom is going to have more humidity in the air than a larger bathroom.

But few of us have bathrooms large enough to eliminate the need for an exhaust fan. Opening a bathroom window or keeping the door open works wonders for ventilation, but it’s not always practical from a privacy standpoint.

How Do Ventilation Fans Work?

Just like a regular ceiling fan, bathroom ceiling fans move the air around. However, unlike traditional fans, the blades in a bathroom ventilation fan are angled to pull air up from the room (and the excess moisture along with it). After going through the blades, the air is directed into the ventilation duct so it can travel outside.

Since bathroom fans work in a damp environment, dust and dirt often mixes with the moisture in the air and causes it to cling to the fan blades, housing, and cover. That’s why it’s important to clean your bathroom ceiling fans around twice a year so they can do their job effectively. But once you know how to clean them, you can knock this project out in under 15 minutes.

How To Clean Your Bathroom Ceiling Fans

Start by pulling the bathroom fan cover down gently. It’s probably held in place by metal pins on each side, which you can squeeze together to get the fan cover to come off completely.

As you can see, mine was really gross, so I just tossed it in the bathtub with a few drops of dish soap and let it soak in warm water while I worked on the rest of the fan.

After the cover is removed, the first thing you’ll want to do is unplug the fan. No one needs a nasty shock while they’re cleaning! (If your fan doesn’t have a plug, you’ll need to locate the circuit breaker for the bathroom on your electric panel and flip it to the “off” position.)

Next, remove any other nuts and/or screws that are securing the fan and motor assembly, and remove them from the ceiling. Mine involved removing a nut, loosening two screws, and twisting the motor assembly to get it to come free. Yours could be different (especially if it is newer than mine,) but it shouldn’t be too difficult to figure out.

Finally we get to the cleaning part. Cleaning the fan blades and the fan motor assembly was the most time-consuming part of this project because it was so CAKED with dust, dirt, and hair! If I hadn’t put it off for so long it would have been much quicker. (Ain’t that always the case?) However, it all came off fairly easily using a damp microfiber cloth.

Once the fan blades and motor are clean, take a look at the exhaust vent and the fan housing. If there is dust and grime inside (like there was in mine, yuck!) you can use a vacuum attachment to get most of it out. Wipe down the housing with your damp microfiber cloth as well.

Once the cleaning is done, all there is left to do is replace the fan. That pretty much means redoing all the steps you had to do to get it out, but in reverse order.

Hint: When you first remove the fan cover, take a picture of it with your camera phone! This will make putting it back together MUCH easier because you’ll have a visual reference rather than just trying to put it back together from memory!

Plug the fan back in, replace your clean fan cover onto the fan housing, and admire your handiwork! Your fan will now be able to do its job much better! One major difference I noticed was the NOISE! After cleaning my fan, it is so much quieter!!

Now, to clean all that dust off the floor. My work is never done…. 😉

What household cleaning job do you tend to procrastinate the most?


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    Hi, I’m Jillee!

    I believe we should all love the place we call home and the life we live there. Since 2011, I’ve been dedicated to making One Good Thing by Jillee a reliable and trustworthy resource for modern homemakers navigating the everyday challenges of running a household. Join me as I share homemaking and lifestyle solutions that make life easier so you can enjoy it more!

    Every day I share creative homemaking and lifestyle solutions that make your life easier and more enjoyable!

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