Five in six American homes use fans as part of their cooling strategy, and the average home uses two to three ceiling fans. Total that up, and you have millions of fans running every day of the year.

As fan blades move through the air, they pick up little bits of dust. While the process happens over a long time, it always leads to the same place: fans in need of cleaning.

If you need to clean a ceiling fan, you’re going to face some challenges. The elevated position makes it difficult to reach, and the dust that builds up can get stubborn. How, then, do you make sure your ceiling fan has a sparkling, clean presentation?

It doesn’t have to take a lot of time or effort. We’ll walk you through some of our best ceiling fan cleaning tips. The next time you settle in for ceiling fan cleaning, our tips should make it smooth and painless.

Preparing to Clean a Ceiling Fan

Getting ready for a ceiling fan cleaning takes a little care. Going straight to wiping the fan off won’t pay off. If you don’t want to end up vacuuming or cleaning the floor, make sure to take the following steps.

Prepare Your Workspace

Spread out some towels, a drop cloth, or an old sheet below the fan. You’ll want to cover about twice the width of the fan in all directions, and more if you have the option. Some apartments may not have the space for this, though, in which case you should just cover as much of the space below the fan as possible.

Get a Ladder

Unless your apartment has low ceilings and you’re very tall, you’ll want a ladder for this process. Position the ladder such that you can see the tops of the fan blades when you’re at a comfortable spot.

Remove Fixtures

If your fan has any delicate glass components that can be removed, such as globes or lamp covers, take them off. You don’t want to risk damaging them. You can clean them separately later, and it’ll make it easier to access more of the fan now.

Turn Off the Breaker

While this might feel extreme: if you can turn off the circuit breaker to the area of the house containing the ceiling fan, do it. Ceiling fans present a lot of risks while powered. 

Choosing a Cleaner

When it comes to choosing a cleaner for your fan, you have two basic options. Either one will do a good job of cutting through even insistent dust and grime that builds up on fans. Our ceiling fan cleaning guide will cover both.

All-Purpose Cleaner

For ease of use and simplicity, you can’t beat all-purpose cleaner. Some cleaners can irritate the skin or eyes, though, so if you have sensitive eyes or skin, you may want to switch to the alternative.

Water and Vinegar Solution

Combining equal parts water and vinegar will give you a working all-purpose cleaner. This might be a good choice for using on a ceiling fan in or near a kitchen if you’re worried about spraying an all-purpose cleaner near food preparation stations.

For Standard Height Ceilings: Pillowcase Method

If your ceiling is short enough that you can comfortably reach it with the ladder you have available, the pillowcase cleaning method should work. Start with an old pillowcase. Spray your cleaner of choice inside it until it’s somewhat damp.

Slip the pillowcase over a blade and pull. This should remove most, if not all, of the dust and grime from the blade. Repeat for each blade.

If you feel the blades are still dirty, follow up with a microfiber cloth. This should get any remnants.

For Tall Ceilings: Duster Method

If you can’t get to a position where you can see the top of the fan blades using your ladder, you’ll need an extendable duster. You can buy these at most home supply or hardware stores. They use a hook or oval shape to clean both the top and bottom of the blade at once.

The process will otherwise be the same, though. Spray a small amount of your chosen cleaning solution onto the tool and brush the blade.

Cleaning the Mechanisms

After you clean the blades, you should clean the mechanisms. The pull chain and motor can build up dust too. They definitely need as much care as the fan blades, even if the aesthetic impact is lower.

Start by cleaning the pull chain and the fan exterior with a cloth. You don’t need any cleaning solution for this step. Just wipe them off and you should get most of it.

Next, it’s time for one of the favorite cleaning tools of every nerd and mechanic: compressed air. Whether you use a disposable can or an electric dust blower, give the internals a few quick blasts. This will dislodge most of what’s inside the fan.

Invest in Your Health and the Look of Your Space

Taking the time to clean a ceiling fan will improve both its operability and appearance. If you don’t want your fan to kick up dust or look unsightly, regular cleaning will help a lot. It can be a bit of a project, but that doesn’t mean it won’t pay off.

Then again, not everyone is confident in their ability to clean every part of their home. Whether it’s a ceiling fan cleaning or some other home task that’s got you stymied, reach out to us and we’ll figure out how we can best help you.