The Best Way to Clean an Exhaust Fan in a Bathroom

Cleaning the bathroom may not be the most loved chore around the house, but at least it’s pretty easy. In fact, you probably have some sort of routine of putting cleaner in the toilet to work wonders while you clean the floor and counters, give everything a quick but thorough wipe, vacuum around the room, and then give your toilet a final cleaning. (Or something like that.)

And while it’s great to do this on a regular basis, you also want to give your bathroom a deep clean from time to time as you tackle any problem areas in the tub or shower, mop the floors, and really get into tiny nooks and crannies that collect dust and grime. Even so, you may be missing an important part of your bathroom: an exhaust fan. Here’s how to clean it up.

Why you need to clean the exhaust fan in the bathroom

Because it’s job is to move air around, it might seem like your bathroom fan should be self-cleaning, but alas, that’s not the case. Exhaust fans not only remove stinky air , but also remove steam from hot showers and baths and any other excess moisture from the room, preventing (or at least reducing) the growth of mold and mildew.

But like the rest of your home, bathroom exhaust fans get dusty and dirty over time, which can block the grates in the lid and prevent the fan from doing its important job. Cleaning a bathroom exhaust fan takes a bit of effort, but the good news is that you usually only need to do this once or twice a year (depending on the level of dust in your home).

How to clean the exhaust fan in the bathroom

The entire process should take no more than 20 minutes. Here’s what to do:

  1. Before doing anything else, turn off power to the fan at the junction box. Then turn on the fan when you get back to the bathroom to make sure it doesn’t turn on.
  2. Make sure you have enough light . If your bathroom has a window, this is a job that needs to be done during daylight hours. If your bathroom doesn’t have a window, bring a flashlight or other battery-operated lighting device with you so you can see what you’re doing.
  3. Use a sturdy stepladder or ladder that will allow you to easily reach and remove the fan cover. If it’s a relatively new model, it’s likely held in by tension clips that you simply push to remove. Older fans tend to use screws instead, so you’ll need either a Phillips or flathead screwdriver to remove them.
  4. Use a dry cloth or vacuum cleaner to remove any dirt or dust clods from the fan cover, then place it in a basket of warm water and dish soap, letting it soak in while you do the rest of the fan.
  5. Climb up a ladder and use a vacuum nozzle (or compressed air canister) to collect as much dirt and dust as possible from inside the fan, including from the blades. If there is anything left that you cannot remove with a vacuum cleaner, wipe it off with a soft cloth.
  6. Check the fan cover. Use a soft cloth (and a little elbow grease if needed) to remove stubborn dirt , then rinse the cover and let it dry completely.
  7. Finally, insert (or screw on) the fan cover and turn the circuit breaker back on.

Now that your bathroom exhaust fan is clean, be sure to use it every time you take a hot shower or bath and then for about 20 minutes after or until the room stops steaming.


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