How to Clean a Ceiling Fan in 3 Simple Steps

No special tools required—just a ladder, an all-purpose cleaner, and a little time

Cleaning ceiling fan iStock-153912318

Ceiling fans cost little to run and turning one on can make you feel up to 4 degrees cooler, according to the Department of Energy—even if you're already using your air conditioner.

But to get the most from your fan, you have to keep it clean.

More on Keeping Cool

Dirty fan blades don’t move air as efficiently, so clean all household fans at least once each cooling season.

A ceiling fan that's covered with dust or pollen might also fling the offending particles around the room as it's whirring away. And if you have a fan in the kitchen, cooking grease can make it a dust magnet.

That’s why it’s important to keep the fan clean, especially if you use it year-round.

The chore requires a ladder, an all-purpose cleaner, and only a little effort. Here's a step-by-step guide, drawn from CR's How to Clean Practically Anything.

How to Clean a Ceiling Fan

Step 1. Prep
Spread a drop cloth or old sheets on the floor and over any furniture that's under or near the fan. Try to cover an area about twice as wide as the full width of the fan. Position the ladder so that you can see the top of the blades. Remove any light globes.

Step 2. Dust
Remove loose dust with a cloth or duster. You can wipe both sides of the fan blades at once using a long-handled U-shaped brush. This special tool is available from hardware stores and home centers. Or simply slip an old pillowcase over the blades one by one, then pull it back to remove dust and dirt.

Step 3. Wash
Moisten a cloth or sponge with an all-purpose cleaner and wash each blade. Don't spray liquid on the fan, and don’t apply heavy pressure, which can bend the blades. Hand-wash light globes in a sink and let dry completely before replacing. And let the blades dry thoroughly before turning your fan back on; damp blades attract dust.

That's it! But if cleaning the ceiling fan is a chore you hate, try going the extra mile: Wax the blades with car wax, which can prevent dust from sticking in the first place.


Mary H.J. Farrell

Knowing that I wanted to be a journalist from a young age, I decided to spiff up my byline by adding the middle initials "H.J." A veteran of online and print journalism, I've worked at People, MSNBC, Ladies’ Home Journal, Good Housekeeping, and an online Consumer Reports wannabe. But the real thing is so much better. Follow me on Twitter.