How to Clean a Bathroom Fan—Because It's Probably Covered in Dust

A clean bathroom fan means less mold and mildew.

Mary Marlowe Leverette has over four decades of experience and has been writing and consulting for more than 20 years sharing her knowledge on efficient housekeeping, stain removal methods, and textile conservation. Blower Motor Squirrel Cage

How to Clean a Bathroom Fan—Because It's Probably Covered in Dust

When was the last time you checked on this hidden yet hardworking unit? A dusty, dirty bathroom fan can't do its job and may eventually sound like a jet engine taking off. It's vital to clean a bathroom fan properly so it can do its job quietly and efficiently.

Most bathroom fans are mounted in the wall or ceiling and connected to a standard 120-volt electrical current. Some models are combination units that include a light fixture, heat lamp, or music speaker, as well as a fan. Whichever model you have, a clean bathroom fan is vital for a hygienic, well-working bathroom. Follow these steps to give yours a thorough deep clean.

Cleaning a bathroom fan may be a bit of a hassle, but it's so much easier than constantly battling mold and mildew if the fan isn't working properly. Here's how often it needs a little attention:

With just the flip of a switch, a bathroom fan goes to work to remove odors and excess moisture in the air that can help feed the growth of mold and mildew. The fan draws moisture-laden air into the unit and expels it through a vent to the outside.

Since bathroom fans are powered by an electrical current and bathrooms are fraught with slippery surfaces, before cleaning, take these safety measures to ensure you don't create a problem worse than a dirty fan:

Safety first: Before you do anything, ensure the breaker for the bathroom and the fan's power switch are turned off.

Using a stepladder and flashlight (if required), use the crevice attachment on your vacuum or an electrostatic duster to remove dust collected on the outside of the bathroom fan. This step prevents dust from falling to the floor when you remove the cover.

Most fan covers can be removed by gently pulling them away from the ceiling or wall. For some models, you may need to use a screwdriver or depress latches on the sides to remove the cover.

With the cover removed, you'll see the bathroom fan's motor and blades. Most fans are plugged into an outlet, so unplug it before cleaning the fan and its surrounding recessed housing.

Fill a bucket or sink with very warm water and add some all-purpose household cleaner. Submerge the vent cover and let it soak to remove the buildup of dust, hairspray, and grime while you clean the rest of the unit.

After soaking, use a microfiber cloth to wipe the vent cover clean and then rinse it in warm water. Place the cover on an absorbent towel and allow it to air-dry completely before reinstalling.

If possible, remove the fan unit from the housing. Most models come out with just a few twists.

Lightly dampen a microfiber cloth with water and wipe away dust from each of the blades and the motor. You can also use a vacuum with a crevice tool to suction away dust.

If the fan can't be removed from the housing, use a damp cloth, vacuum, or electrostatic duster to remove as much dust as possible. Whichever way you choose, use a light touch to make sure you don't bend the blades.

Use the vacuum's crevice tool or the duster to remove as much debris as possible from the recessed housing and brackets that hold the fan in place. Be sure to address the corners where dust and insects often get trapped.

Once everything is clean, dry, and dust-free, place the fan back into its housing by screwing it in or reconnecting it to the brackets. Next, turn the blades with your fingers a few times to be sure they are not hitting any part of the housing.

If needed, plug the fan into the outlet. Ensuring the cover is completely dry, snap or screw it back in place.

Turn the bathroom breaker and fan switch back on. Then give your clean fan a test run. If you hear some clicking or a new noise, you may need to reposition the fan slightly.

How to Clean a Bathroom Fan—Because It's Probably Covered in Dust

Pedestal Fan Motor By clicking “Accept All Cookies”, you agree to the storing of cookies on your device to enhance site navigation, analyze site usage, and assist in our marketing efforts.