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How to Clean Your Ceiling Fans for a Cleaner and Brighter Room

large ceiling fan hanging ftom a white vaulted timber ceiling
Byjeng/Shutterstock

Ceiling fans easily get covered in dirt and dust, and especially during the time of year, you’re using them the most. Cleaning them removes allergens, keeps your home cleaner, and isn’t a difficult task.

There’s more than one way to clean your ceiling fan. You can clean them with little effort, or you can get down and dirty (and make sure they aren’t getting the rest of your room dirty in the meantime).

Ladder-Free Cleaning

The least effort way to clean your ceiling fan is to use a microfiber duster with an extendable handle and tiltable head. These are readily available at big box stores and home improvement businesses. The dusters made explicitly for ceiling fans aren’t necessary, but if you want to do the whole blade in one pass, this style works well.

Best Overall Tool

OXO Good Grips Microfiber Extendable Duster

This OXO Good Grips extendable duster has a long reach, a large fluffy microfiber head, and you can adjust the angle up to 270 degrees.

Clean your fan this way may give you more cleaning to do when you’re done. While the microfiber will adhere to some of the dust, there’s still a chance of dust falling onto your floors and furniture.

How to Clean Your Ceiling Fan with Less Mess

Grab a ladder. The most efficient way to clean your ceiling fan is to get right up there by it and do some cleaning. It’s not quite as one-step as grabbing a microfiber wand and sliding it around the blades, but it does a significantly more thorough job.

While you’re up there, if you’re cleaning your fan during the change of seasons, you can change which way it spins (if your fan has a switch for this). When it’s hot out, you want the fan to be moving counter-clockwise to cool the room by blowing cold air your way. Clockwise, your fan will pull up the cool air and push down the hot air that rises.

Since you’ve already dragged the ladder or step stool out, it’s worth doing more than just the blades. For a cleaner and better working fan (over time), clean the motor housing, glass shade if the lamp has lights, and even dust the light bulbs off. Make sure the light has been off for a while, though. Even LED bulbs can get surprisingly hot.

Blade Cleaning

The absolute best way to clean your ceiling fan blade is by using a pillowcase. Sure, you can use a microfiber duster, but you’ll quickly see how much easier and less fussy this is. Using this household item that you already have will help you remove dust from the blade without getting it anywhere else in your house. Slide the pillowcase on the blade, as if it were your pillow. Wipe the dust from the top, bottom, and sides of the blade before carefully pulling the case off. All of the dust will be inside! Repeat with the rest of the blades, then take the pillowcase outside to shake the dust out. Toss it in the washing machine for cleaning.

For kitchen ceiling fans, once you’ve removed the dust use an all-purpose cleaner to remove stuck-on grease and food grime that manages its way up there (you’d be shocked with how much grease and grime gets splattered all over the kitchen each time you cook). Use a sponge to wipe the grease off the blades and finish off by wiping the blades completely dry.

Motor Cleaning

Dust on the motor and blades covered in gunk may both affect the motor. Dust and gunk on the motor housing, especially if it has slits or grills to help vent heat, shortened the life of the motor. Use a clean cloth to wipe down the pull chain and the motor housing. To get dust out of the motor itself, grab a can of compressed air.

Clean the Light Bulbs

Again, make sure the lights are not on, and the bulbs are cooled before you go grabbing at them and burn yourself. You can remove the bulbs to wipe them clean, but you don’t have to. Use a dry microfiber cloth to remove the dust. Dust on the bulbs—especially inside the glass shade—can significantly reduce how much light is emitted into the room.

Clean the Glass Globe

You had to pull the shade or globe down to get to the motor and the light bulbs. Before you screw this back into your fan, take a moment to clean it in some soapy, warm water. Rinse the globe and then dry it off before you put it back up and firmly tighten the screws. Once you wipe the shade down and turn the lights back on, you might be shocked at how much brighter it is.

Yvonne Glasgow Yvonne Glasgow
Yvonne Glasgow has been a professional writer for almost two decades. Yvonne has worked for nutritionists, start-ups, dating companies, SEO firms, newspapers, board game companies, and much more as a writer and editor. She's also a published poet and a short story writer. Read Full Bio »

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