We mop our floors, dust our window casings, even take light fixtures apart to clean them once or twice a year but one dusty spot that often gets overlooked is the bathroom exhaust fan. Aside from being out of easy arms reach, you won’t believe how easy it is to clean a bathroom exhaust fan! This is the ultimate in do-it-yourself home improvement for rookies or new home owners.
Option A: if the fan gets cleaned regularly, and it just needs a little superficial cleaning, turn the fan on and use the long handle of your vacuum cleaner along with a small brush attachment to suck up the dirt and dust that have accumulated on the grill. You don’t even have to climb up on a chair if your vacuum has a long enough attachment.
Option B: instead of vacuuming, turn on the fan, climb up on a step ladder, and use “canned air” to blow out the dust. You’ll want to have the fan running so that it sucks the dust out when you blast it. You’ll probably have to vacuum the bathroom afterwards, too. You can find canned air (also known as compressed air, gas duster or air duster) at home improvement stores.
Option C: if the fan hasn’t been regularly maintained and is pretty grimy, you will need to take it apart to clean it. It’s slightly more time consuming but is still an easy DIY project that you can pull off at some point on the weekend.
1. Start by turning off the circuit breaker so that there is no electricity going to the exhaust fan.
2. Safely climb up on a step stool or ladder and remove the grille or cover and set it aside. If your fan has a light, remove the bulb and the light assembly and set them aside too.
3. Using the small brush attachment on your vacuum, remove dirt and dust from the grille or cover, the fan blade assembly and motor as well as the inside walls of the vent.
4. Now that the superficial dust has been removed, use a wet soapy cloth to wipe off the grille and cover, fan blades and vent walls, being careful of sharp edges. Rinse your cloth and repeat until all the grunge has been removed. Once it’s clean, give it a last wipe down to rinse off the soap. If you prefer, instead of using soap, you can use white vinegar. Be sure everything is dry before you start to reassemble the exhaust fan.
5. If you removed a bulb and light assembly in step 2, now is the time to clean it off with a soft, dry cloth and then replace it into the dry vent. Never let any moisture into the light socket.
6. Replace the grille/cover, flip the breaker back on and turn on the fan to make sure it is running.
If your bathroom doesn’t have an exhaust fan and you have problems with moisture or mold, talk to an HVAC contractor to have one installed.