How to Clean Ceiling Fans (and Stop Wafting Dust Around)

You're just a few steps away from a dust-free ceiling fan.

white ceiling fan
Photo: Doc Ever/Getty Images

Ceiling fans improve air circulation, add a cool breeze during hot days, and even make a decorating statement. But have you taken a look at the blades when the spinning stops? They are dust magnets. If you see a layer of gray fuzz clinging to the edges of the blades, it's time for a cleaning—here's how to clean a ceiling fan without the mess.

Prep the Fan

Start by turning the fan off. Always use a sturdy step stool or ladder placed under the fan—no wobbly chairs! It's a good idea to have a spotter, just in case you fall. Open window coverings or add additional light sources so you have plenty of light while you work.

Pick a day that you also have time to dust and vacuum the room. Even if you spread a bed sheet or tarp on the floor, some dust will escape. When cleaning up, follow the laws of gravity and start from the top and work down—clean the fan, dust furniture and shelves, then vacuum the floor.

Quick Clean

To remove a light layer of dust from a fan, use a disposable duster with an extendable handle to capture spiderwebs and dust from each blade and the motor housing.

Heavy-Duty Dust

For heavier dust buildup, slip a clean pillowcase over the end of a fan blade and use your fingers to hold the pillowcase opening tightly around the blade. Slide the pillowcase along the blade, trapping the dust inside. Repeat along each blade. Once the blades are dust-free, use a microfiber cloth or duster to clean the motor housing. Take the pillowcase outside, turn it inside out, give it a good shake to remove the dust, and toss it in the washing machine

Clear Stuck-On Grime

Fans located in kitchens, bathrooms, and outside patios are usually more heavily soiled due to grease, hairspray, or other particulates in the air and require more cleaning. Dampen a microfiber cloth with an all-purpose cleaner (never spray any solution directly on the fan). Apply gentle pressure as you wipe along each side of the blades and wipe down the motor housing. Rinse the cloth often in clean water and wring it out until it is not dripping. Allow the fan blades to dry completely before turning on the fan. Wet blades attract more dust!

Clean the Light Fixture

If the fan has a light fixture, remove the globes. (This is the perfect time to replace any burned-out bulbs.) Glass globes can be placed in a dishwasher or hand-washed in warm, soapy water. Be sure the globes are completely dry before replacing them on the fan.

Relax and enjoy a dust-free breeze!

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