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How To Clean a Bathroom Fan

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Maintaining your bathroom fan improves performance, efficiency, and safety.

Knowing how to clean a bathroom fan is crucial if you want to avoid dust build-up. As the fan collects debris, it runs slower, putting strain on the motor, which could result in a fire. Plus, removing dust keeps the fan working efficiently, which means it is quieter.

We show you how to clean a bathroom fan in an easy step-by-step guide so that you can keep your bathroom fan in tip-top condition.

Easy Steps To a Clean Bathroom Fan

Think safety when cleaning your bathroom exhaust fan. Removing caked-in dust reduces the strain on your motor, which stops it from overheating. It also improves the efficiency of your fan and makes it run quieter. Start by removing the vent cover. To do this, gently pull the cover down until you have an inch gap to slide your fingers in to remove the clips.


What You Need

Before committing to the clean, there are some things you will need:

  • A step ladder.
  • A screwdriver.
  • A face mask.
  • Goggles.
  • A small brush.
  • A dustpan and brush.
  • A vacuum cleaner with a brush attachment.
  • A dry cloth.
  • Dish soap.
  • A sponge.
  • Some warm water.

How To Clean a Bathroom Fan

So, now you have gathered the necessary tools, you are ready to get started. You need to isolate the power to avoid getting an electric shock or the fan starting up and causing an injury.

You can do this in 2 ways: flipping the circuit breaker for the bathroom on the mains panel or disconnecting the fan when you remove the cover.

Also, grab the dish soap and squirt some in the bathroom sink while filling it with warm water.

Vent Cover

1. Prepare the Work Area

Grab the step ladder and the screwdriver and don the face mask and goggles to protect you from any falling dust and debris. Make sure the step ladder is extended fully and placed on a flat surface.

2. Remove the Vent Cover

Ease the sides of the vent cover, and it should move about an inch. Reach in and feel for the 2 metal clips. If the cover is stuck fast, use the screwdriver for extra leverage,

Squeeze the clips together using your fingers, and the prongs should release the vent.

3. Place in the Water

Lift the cover down and place it in the bathroom sink, immersing it fully in the water. Use the sponge and a brush to get all the debris out of the vent gaps.

4. Dry the Vent Cover

When you have cleaned the cover thoroughly, lift it out of the water and place it on a dry towel. Leave it to air-dry, making sure that all the moisture is gone before you clip it back in place.

Top Tip

If the vent cover is still wet, when you clip it in place, moisture could enter the fan and cause mold and mildew, which affect the quality of the air in your bathroom.

Fan Blades

1. Disconnect the Power

If you decided to unplug the fan when the cover is removed, now is the time to do it. The easier route would be to isolate the power using the electrical breaker. Some fans have a small plug behind the vent that just unplugs.

2. Remove the Fan

For the best cleaning results, remove the fan from the housing so that you can get to the motor and the blades. To get the fan out, you will need the screwdriver to remove a couple of screws. You might be lucky and only have to open a few metal clips.

Once you release the fan from the housing, gently lift it free. Make sure the vent hose is disconnected, and you may have to remove any electrical wires that will hopefully just unclip.

Related Reading
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3. Clean the Fan

Using a dry brush, give the fan blades a thorough clean, making sure that the bristles get into all the tight spots. If you don’t have a spare brush, an old toothbrush is excellent to get into the tiny spaces on the blades.

Once you have scrubbed the dust off the blades, grab the vacuum cleaner and attach the brush hose. Suck all the excess dirt, making sure that all the debris is gone.

4. Clean the Motor

While you have the blade and motor free, use the vacuum brush attachment to get the caked-in dirt off the motor.

5. Reinstall the Fan

Now that the fan is clean, it’s ready to be reinstalled. Reconnect the vent hose and electrical wires before clipping them back into place. Check the vent flap to check it opens and closes without obstructions.

Sometimes birds make nests, or debris gets carried on the wind and deposits on your exhaust vent flap, blocking it or wedging it open.

Fan Housing

1. Wipe Clean With the Brush

While the fan and motor are free of the housing, grab the dustpan and brush and give the fan a thorough clean inside. If the dustpan is too big, a small, soft-bristle paintbrush will do the job.

Use the dustpan to catch the falling debris.

2. Use the Vacuum Cleaner

The vacuum cleaner with the brush hose attachment is an excellent tool for getting into the nooks to remove ground-in dirt. It also keeps the debris from falling in your face.

3. Give It a Final Wipe

Use the dry cloth to wipe around the inside of the fan housing. This ensures that nothing gets missed. It also means you can get into awkward spots where the vacuum cleaner hose cannot reach.

4. Reinstall the Fan

When you are satisfied all the dirt is gone, reinsert the fan into the housing using the method previously mentioned.

5. Install the Vent Cover

Now that the fan and motor are back in place and the vent hose and electrical wires are connected, grab the vent cover and make sure it is completely dry. Offer it up to the ceiling, and clip it back in place.

How Often Do You Clean a Bathroom Exhaust Fan?

You should clean your bathroom exhaust fan at least once a year, and possibly twice a year if it gets a lot of use. Also, the location of your house makes a difference. If you live next to a busy road, there is more pollution in the air, which translates as dust build-up in your fan.

Plus, if your bathroom has a window, it might be that in the summer months, you keep it open, which reduces the burden on the fan, limiting your need to give it a clean.


Think Safety

Cleaning the bathroom exhaust fan is not just a case of keeping things clean. It’s more than that. Getting rid of dust build-up is about safety too. Most modern fans have an overheating mechanism that triggers when the fan heats. But older models may lack this feature.

If your motor overheats, it could cause a fire, and that is disastrous. So, keep on top of your bathroom fan cleaning regime, and it will last for years to come and make your home safer.

Headshot of Mark Weir

About the Author

Mark Weir

Mark spent 24 years working in real estate, so he knows his way around a home. He also worked with contractors and experts, advising them on issues of planning, investments, and renovations. Mark is no stranger to hands-on experience, having renovated his own home and many properties for resale. He likes nothing better than seeing a project through to completion.

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