How to clean a fan: a step-by-step guide

Get rid of dust, dirt and allergens with these fan cleaning tips

Meacofan 1056 Air Circulator
(Image credit: John Lewis)

During warm and hot months, the best fans will be running for months, keeping you cool while the weather gets hotter and hotter. But if your fan is dirty, the air in your home will start to feel warm, stuffy and claustrophobic, rather than light, airy and fresh. How do you solve this problem? By cleaning your fan, of course.

A common misconception about fans is that they release cold air but this isn’t accurate. Fans circulate air around the room and draw hot air away from you, giving a cooling sensation. So, most of the time, a fan is blowing air around your house which can be full of dust particles, pollen, dirt and other allergens. Not only is that bad for your health, but it means the inside and outside of your fan can get pretty filthy.

To improve the quality of your fan’s airflow and keep it in top condition, here’s our step-by-step guide to cleaning a fan.

How to clean a fan

Always remember to turn off your fan and unplug it from the wall before you start cleaning for safety reasons. Make sure you have the tools you need to take your fan apart so you can get into all the nooks and crannies, and don’t forget to clean the area where the fan was or where it’s going to go. You don’t want to go through the whole process of cleaning your fan only to make it dirty again by putting it on a grimy surface.

Remove the guard and grates

To give your fan a deep clean, you’ll need to take the fan apart. This mainly consists of removing the front (guard) and the sides (grates) of the fan. When doing this, make sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions as not all fans are the same. For example, removing the guard from the Meacofan 1056 Air Circulator (which looks like most traditional fans that we all used to make robot voices into) will be different compared to removing parts of a Dyson fan.

In general, fans are put together with screws so you might need to get out the best screwdriver. From here, place your fan on a flat surface and carefully take out the screws so the front comes off and you can touch the inside of the fan. Once you’ve done this, remove the blades from the motor. If your fan has any side panels or grates, you’ll need to take these apart too, either with a screwdriver or by popping them out of place. For context, the Dyson Purifier Humidify+Cool Formaldehyde does this so you can access the filter.

Wash the guard with soapy water

Once the fan has been taken apart and it's not connected to any electricals, wash the guard with soapy water. As always, check with the manufacturer which parts of the fan can be washed this way. Fill your sink with warm soapy water, give it a scrub with a sponge and leave it to soak for a few minutes if it’s particularly dirty. Wipe down the bars to remove any dirt and dust, and let it dry completely.

Wipe down the fan blades

Whether you can remove the blades from the motor or not, clean them by wiping them down with a soft dry cloth or a feather duster. The blades typically collect the most dust which you don’t want flying around your house so make sure to get in between each blade. Avoid using water, especially if the blades can’t be unscrewed. 

Dust the outside of the fan

The outside of your fan easily collects dust and dirt so before you put the fan back together, give it a wipe with a damp cloth. Pay special attention to the back, buttons, grills, base and stand. Once you’re happy, put your fan back together before placing it on a clean surface.

How do I clean a fan filter?

If your fan has a filter, start by removing it from the inside of the fan. For this, you’ll typically have to remove the grates of the fan to get to the filter and it should pop out easily. Next, go over the filter with a cloth to get rid of any debris. Some sources recommend using a lint roller or a vacuum cleaner to do this. If your filter is past its prime, it’s best to throw it away and buy a new one.

How often should you clean a fan?

Depending on how often you use your fan, you should clean it every week. If you’re using it everyday, especially during the summer, check the blades regularly and give the entire unit a wipe down to remove any dust. If you don’t use it as much, just clean it as and when you need to, but if you haven’t used it for a while and you’re getting it out of storage, give it a proper clean before starting it up.

Bethan Girdler-Maslen
Home Editor

Beth is Home Editor for T3, looking after style, living and wellness. From the comfiest mattresses to what strange things you can cook in an air fryer, Beth covers sleep, yoga, smart home, coffee machines, grooming tools, fragrances, gardening and much more. If it's something that goes in your house, chances are Beth knows about it and has the latest reviews and recommendations! She's also in the know about the latest deals and discount codes from top brands and retailers.

Having always been passionate about writing, she’s written for websites, newspapers and magazines on a variety of topics, from jewellery and culture, to food and telecoms. You can find her work across numerous sites, including Wedding Ideas Magazine, Health & Wellbeing, The Bristol Post, Fashion & Style Directory, TechRadar, CreativeBloq and more. In her spare time, Beth enjoys running, reading, baking and attempting craft projects that will probably end in disaster!