How to Clean Exhaust Fans Easily

South End Plumbing, Heating, & Air Expert Tips

How to Clean Exhaust Fans Easily

Exhaust fans and ceiling fans make your house comfier and can help you reduce your home’s energy usage. They’re also easy to take for granted. This means you ignore them, and how dirty they can become. Exhaust fans need a little upkeep to stay clean and efficient. If not, you’ll just get dust or worse blown around the house. Knowing how to clean exhaust fans easily is helpful in getting the benefits of running a fan to help rid your home of moisture and contaminants. Thankfully, it just takes a little time and effort to keep them running fine.

Exhaust Fan Upkeep

That little fan in the celling does more than you might think. If you use it, and if you keep it clean. It assists in removing smells, airborne contaminants and moisture. A fan covered in dust does not work effectively, eventually resulting in mold, mildew and possibly a house fire. It’s simple to give it a sound cleaning about every six months. Continue reading to see how to clean a bathroom exhaust fan.

A lot of homes have exhaust fans in bathrooms where they help regulate moisture and freshen the air. Like any fans, exhaust fans suck up bits that collect on the blades and electric motors. If this buildup isn’t occasionally cleaned with a little bit of maintenance, it can cause the fan to make a room or house dirtier. It can cause the motor or fan to fail far faster than it should.

Take Off the Exhaust Cover

Standing on a ladder or stepstool, remove the exhaust fan cover. This is usually held in place with metal clips that need to be pressed for removal. You probably don’t even need tools for this step. On some fans, the cover might be held in place with screws. The cover itself should be cleaned with any kind of soap and warm water.

Vacuum the Dust

Now you can get to the fan blades and motor, so use a vacuum cleaner wand accessory to vacuum out as much dust as possible. This cleaning wand can generally be located as an extension on your vacuum.

Wipe the Blades

Use a clean, dry cloth to meticulously get rid of any type of dust from the blades and other internal parts. For even more persistent dirt, try wiping it with a wet cloth. After that, just reattach the cover, and your fan is clean. Turn it on again. Simple upkeep of all the exhaust fans is a breeze and will help you save money or larger issues down the road.

More Details for Cleaning a Bathroom Fan

Standing on a ladder or stepstool, remove the exhaust fan cover.Remove the Exhaust Cover

  • First, make sure the power is turned off to the fan. To be extra careful, turn off the power at the breaker box.
  • If it’s simply an air vent and fan without a light, remove the air vent cover by carefully pulling it down, you might need to pinch or detach the metal wires on both sides. Move them out of their slots, removing them from the fan casing or the cover.
  • If your exhaust fan cover has a light, detach the wire first. Press the release tab on the adapter prior to moving the cover.

Clean the Cover

  • Cleaning an exhaust cover without a light is easy. Fill your bathroom sink with warm water and a small amount of soap. Let the cover sit in the soapy water for a couple of minutes. Scrub it with a cloth or brush. Place the cover on a towel and let it air dry while you continue cleaning the rest of the fan and vent.
  • If the cover has a light, do not immerse it or let it stay in water. Just vacuum off the dust, clean it with a moist towel, then let it air dry.

Clean a Fan with the Motor in

  • Taking a vacuum cleaner with an attachment to reach, carefully, to the fan and motor, vacuum out as much dust and dirt as possible. You may also use a brush attachment to be gentle on the blades and motor. You don’t want to damage any part or knock something loose.
  • After you vacuum as much as you can, take a moist microfiber cloth and clean the fan components and casing. This should remove more dirt.

How to Remove the Motor for Deep Cleaning

  • It’s simple to safely take the motor out to clean it thoroughly. Depending on the model, unscrew the 2-3 screws holding the fan motor. If you’ve got a magnetic tip screwdriver this could be a good idea.
  • To remove the fan motor, start by unplugging the port or plug that powers the motor.
  • Next, take out the mounting screws that hold the motor to the casing. Remember to hold the electric motor with one hand while removing the last screw, then take out the motor from the housing.
  • Vacuum the motor. It might be better to take it outside and remove the dust from it there. You might want to use a forced air tool. It’s good to use a soft, small brush.
  • Clean the motor, fan blades and fan housing well with a damp microfiber towel before re-installing the motor in the casing and reassembling everything.

Put it Back Together

  • Once you have all the parts clean and dry, you can put the exhaust fan back together. If you took the motor out, your first step is to place it back in position and replace the screws.
  • Next, plug in the fan. Then place the cover back on by placing the installing wires into their slots, then carefully pushing the cover back into the ceiling.


At South End Heating and Air we are Charlotte’s affordable AC experts. Call us anytime for a free consult and free estimate. We’ll evaluate your system and help make recommendations for optimum value. After all, we want to keep you cool all summer long and warm in the winter. Just schedule a visit with one of our technicians to talk about how we can help. Would you like to learn more options our techs can help you with? Give us a call 704-684-5339.

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