How to clean a fan – remove dust and grime from your desk, tower or bladeless fan

When a fan’s blades are spinning, we don’t tend to notice just how much dust they’re collecting. But if your fan’s been working overtime recently, you might have become aware of just how grubby it is.

The best fans draw in a lot of air, some of which contains dust and dirt, which sticks to the fan motor and blades. Careful cleaning will extend the lifespan of your fan greatly and even reduce your running costs, says Chris Michael, Managing Director at Meaco.

Luckily, it’s a pretty straightforward process, whether you’re giving your tower fan a quick once-over without taking it apart, or giving your desk fan a deep cleanse after digging it out of the cupboard. Here’s how to clean a fan to get it looking shiny and new.

Make sure you take a look at your instruction guide or the manufacturer’s website to see whether the steps in this guide are appropriate.

How to clean a desk fan

white table fan in kitchen

Image credit: DUUX

1. Unplug everything

Safety is everything here, so don’t do anything without first unplugging the fan from the mains. Make sure there are no trailing wires while you’re working, too, and keep the plug away from any cleaning fluid or water while you work.

2. Carefully take your fan apart

Grab a screwdriver and get to work. We’ll note first, however, that all fans are different and your first move should be to read the instructions before taking anything apart.

If you were the one who assembled it in the first place, then it should be simple to simply reverse this process. However, if the fan arrived in its full form, make sure you know what you’re doing. Taking apart your fan can also affect your warranty, so consider this before doing anything.

If you’re feeling confident, the face and rear grills of your fan are likely to be secured with some screws (don’t lose these!). Place the fan face down on a flat surface and carefully remove the screws to access the blades. This will help prevent the screws from falling inside the fan, Chris Michael explains.

Set them aside and remove the blades from the motor. ‘All fan blades have a safety nut on the front,’ says Chris from Meaco. ‘Forget “lefty loosely, righty tighty” and go the opposite way,’ he says. Unscrew it by hand and the whole fan blade will come off.

pink desk fan by dunelm

Image credit: Dunelm

3. Wipe everything down

The blades will be where most of the dust has settled, so tackle these first. Be gentle when wiping blades, as you don’t want to bend them. If there’s a lot of build up, then it’s a good idea to get a small vacuum to suck off the excess before moving on. Use one of the best handheld vacuum cleaners or a standard vacuum cleaner with a crevice nozzle attachment.

Alternatively, you can use a compressed gas canister, but this is messier. Chris Michael suggests simply using a wet wipe or a dish cloth but says you need to make sure it’s 100% dry before putting the blade back on.

Avoid spraying any cleaner directly onto the fan, and give it a good polish until you’re satisfied. Next, get a microfibre cloth, at Amazon, to wipe down the rest of the fan’s body.

4. Rinse the grill

If your fan’s grill is suitable for washing, then this will undoubtedly be the most efficient way to get to everything in the nooks and crannies.

Again, make sure not to get any part of the fan that’s connected to the electricals or motor wet, and leave everything to dry thoroughly before reassembling. If you’re happy, then gently wash the grill over the sink with a sponge.

5. Reassemble

As soon as everything is clean and dry, you can get to reassembling.

How to clean a fan without opening it

black fan in living space

Image credit: DUUX

The same cleaning method can be applied to pedestal fans, with a quick wipe of the stand. But tower fans can be trickier to disassemble. And, of course, it’s not always necessary to completely take apart a fan to give it a quick clean, and it’s always better to maintain a clean fan rather than needing to deep clean it every few months.

‘If you are unable to open your fan, use a vacuum with a brush attachment to gently remove dust from the exterior of the fan,’ suggests Chloe King, Duux Brand Manager.

The easiest way of ensuring proper upkeep is to get a can of compressed air. These are a godsend for cleaning tricky-to-reach places like between the keys of your keyboard without doing any damage to the tech behind it.

Just position the nozzle between the mesh front of your fan and blow away the literal cobwebs. This removes all of the unsightly dust that has built up on the blades and takes seconds.

blue retro fan by dunelm

Image credit: Dunelm

As an alternative, anything that blows air (like a hairdryer on its cold setting) will work or use your best vacuum cleaner with an attachment.

For the rest of the job, the easiest thing to do is grab a microfibre cloth and rub the outside of the fan down every so often. Or you can just add it to your home care and cleaning rotation when you’re going around with a feather duster.

How to clean a bladeless fan

You may be thinking – ‘that’s all very well for an ordinary bladed fan, but what about my Dyson fan?’. Well, the answer is a little less complicated.

To clean your bladeless fan you just need to get a damp cloth and give it a good wipe down, as demonstrated over on the Dyson website.

Note: devices like the Dyson Hot+Cool range often also clean the air as they work, so you should also make sure you’re cleaning/changing the filter as needed. The dust has to go somewhere!

Dyson Dyson Purifier Hot + Cool Formaldehyde in front of white door on light wood floor

Credit: Future

How to clean a tower fan

‘Tower fans don’t need a lot of maintenance,’ says Andrew Bramley, a professional in the Commercial Cleaning Industry, at Pure Freedom. He recommends vacuuming the exterior with the brush attachment to will remove the initial dust, paying particular attention to the vents as this is where the dust buildup will be.

‘You will need a can of compressed air and blow it into the vent to release clogged dust or dirt,’ says Andrew. ‘Finally use a duster to remove any remaining dirt off the fan.’ Then give the stand a wipe down with a microfibre cloth.

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