What's the easiest way to clean fans without taking them apart?
How to Clean a Fan that Doesn't Come Apart
TDS Reader Solutions
How to Clean Fans
It's getting warm, which means we've gotten our fans out. Does anyone have any ideas on cleaning all the dust and stuff from a fan? We have two or three window fans that don't open up at all. I can't unscrew them and get inside, and the casing is just absolutely filthy. I tried to clean with cotton swabs and a toothbrush, and it got rid of some of it, but some other of it just moved around and now looks even worse. I don't think I can submerge them in water because they're electrical appliances. I would love some ideas on cleaning fans. Thanks!
Blow Fan Clean
Provided you use this method religiously at the end of every fan season and the beginning of the next, I've found that standing your fan up in your garage, carport, or driveway and using your leaf blower to blow the dust out of it works very well indeed. If you let the dust accumulate to the point where the dirt sort of solidifies on the fan, on the other hand, there will be definite limits to what the leaf blower can accomplish. Even then, though, it will accomplish something.
Avoid Cleaning Fans Again Next Year
I've used my vacuum cleaner nozzle when cleaning fans, and it works pretty well. The best bet, however, is to prevent the problem next year. If you've not saved the fan box (I rarely save boxes), cover the fan with a contractor's plastic bag. It's much heavier than a regular plastic garbage bag, and a box of them will last a lifetime.
Rebecca in Johnson City, TN
Cleaning Fans with a Degreaser
If it was manufactured, it comes apart one way or another. The trick is to be careful. Most of the plastic fans look as though they don't come apart, but the trick is to follow the seam on the edges where it comes together. I usually use a thin knife or screwdriver tip and pry it apart. Metal may be welded and indeed be impossible to open. Look for tabs and such where it may come apart. Those who are mechanically inclined may be useful here. If you do break it, a simple repair may be to use a twist tie or wire in a similar color and tie it together.
The cleaning is fairly easy. Obviously make sure it's unplugged. Use a degreaser (ammonia water is good here) and apply to a rag, wringing it out until it's nearly dry in order to avoid getting moisture into the works. If you do make such a mistake, leave the fan in the sunlight for a day or two to let it dry out. Wipe the fan gently, cleaning the rag off regularly. If you use ammonia, be sure to do the rinse the same way but with clear water. Do not attempt the motor. Put the casing back on. Personally, I like to tape a cotton ball saturated with a bit of scent on the fan screen facing out.
Don't use dish detergent, as it tends to be a bit gummy after it dries. I don't use dish detergent on the floors for the same reason.
Cleaning Off the Loose Dust
I'm thinking you have box-type window fans or one of those round oscillating ones. Try laying the fan flat on a sheet (blades pointing up or down) and pouring some clean, dry sand or salt through the grills so that it brushes off the fan blades and then spills through to the sheet. It should clean off the loose dust.
Air Compressor Cleans Fan
For cleaning fans, my husband takes them out to the garage and blows them off with the air compressor. It gets 90% of the gunk off and then I can wipe them clean.
Clean and Dry Fan Outdoors
You could try laying the fan outside on the ground and putting a dinner plate over the motor area. Then spray the fan with a cleaner like 409 or Clorox. Let it soak a few minutes to loosen up the grime. Then using the jet setting on your hose, blast it clean. Let it sit out in the sun until it is totally dry and it should be fine. It's a good idea to oil the center of the motor (if it's accessible) with a lightweight household oil, like you use for old sewing machines and door hinges. The fan will last longer.
Shawna in Barberton, Ohio
Auto Cleaner for Fans
Take the fans outside on a clear sunny day. Spray well with GUNK® (found in auto section of Wal-Mart}. Let set for a few minutes then hose down well. Allow the fan to sit in the sun until dried. Make sure it's dried. We do this each season.
Reviewed January 2018
Take the Next Step:
- Don't miss these ceiling fan cleaning and maintenance tips.
- Never overspend for store-bought cleaners again. Use The Dollar Stretcher's Guide to Homemade Cleaners to find frugal, effective recipes for keeping your entire house and laundry clean and fresh.
- Do you keep your finances as clean as your home? If debt is cluttering your budget, our free Get Out of Debt Course can provide you with the tools you need to sweep debt away and finally clean up your finances.
- Join those who 'live better...for less' - Subscribe to The Dollar Stretcher newsletter, a weekly look at how to stretch both your day and your dollar! Subscribers get a copy of our ebook Little Luxuries: 130 Ways to Live Better...For Less for FREE!
Share your thoughts about this article with the editor.