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Best Way to Clean My Dirty Ceiling Fan

By 1 years ago 4368 Views No comments

First, How Does It Get So Dirty?

If you’re like most people, you clean your home by dusting furniture, clean up the kitchen and bathroom by scrubbing the sinks and countertops, vacuuming and periodically you mop the floors, etc… But how often do you remember to look up and clean your ceiling fans and other lighting fixtures? Most of us (including myself) tend to forget that part of cleaning until it’s almost too late. By the time we notice our ceiling fans need a cleaning, they have a sticky, grimy dust all over, and it is especially caked all over the edges of the blades.

You may wonder, with the fan constantly spinning around and around, how does so much dust stick to the blades, and why does it cling even more on the edges? Shouldn’t that dust blow off with the constant current of wind that the blades are producing?

One would assume so, but the reason it doesn’t is because with an electric motor powering a ceiling fan and the friction the blades create, as they are constantly creating wind resistance to produce the airflow you feel below, it causes static electricity to be conducted through the blades. This draws the dust to the fan blades, where it sticks to them and the blades will not let go. If you have every opened plastic straw wrapper, and in trying to toss the wrapper down, seen it magically get stuck to the backside of your hand and not let go, well, that is caused by static electricity. The ceiling fan blades attract dust the same way as our hand attracts the plastic wrapper.

Regular Cleaning Using a Vacuum

If we would only remember to use the wand and brush attachment periodically, found on our vacuum cleaner, this buildup would never be very noticeable, and cleaning would be a snap. I would suggest doing this about every two weeks or so. If you wait too long, vacuuming the surfaces of the blades will not always get the blades as clean as you’d like, and you may have to take further measures to compete the task.

When vacuuming your ceiling fan but sure to get the edges first, then finish by vacuuming the top and the bottom of each one. This pattern seems to work best for the vacuum to suck up all of the dust, and not allowing too much dust to fall to the surfaces below.

Using a Damp Microfiber Cloth

If you have waited too long between cleaning with a vacuum, it is a good idea to moisten a microfiber cleaning cloth and use it to get the caked on dust and grime off of the ceiling fan blades. It may be a good idea to cover any bedding or furniture below with a towel, because there is sure to be some clumps of nastiness that will fall from the blades and cloth, down to whatever is below. You may also need to rinse the cleaning cloth out after cleaning every couple of blades, depending on how dirty your fan has become.

After you have done the blades, it will also be a good idea to rinse the microfiber wash rag and go back to wipe the fan’s motor housing down as well. Not need to stop short of completely cleaning the ceiling fan after the blades, since wiping down the motor housing is the easy part.

Ever Seen the Pillowcase Method?

Some folks have discovered that if a ceiling fan has been neglected for entirely way too long, that using a pillowcase is the answer to help prevent having to clean everything else below the ceiling fan, once the job of cleaning the fan is finished.

To try this method, grab an old pillow case from your closet, or, if you don’t have one, run to Walmart and pick up the cheapest set of pillowcases they offer. Then slip a blade into the pillowcase and be sure the pillowcase goes all the way to where the blade attaches to the motor. Then, using both hands, clamp down on the top, bottom, and edges of the blade (on the outside of the pillowcase) the best you can and slide the pillowcase off. This will help remove large amounts of dust at once and trap it inside of the pillowcase, instead of having it fall all over your floors, furniture, or bedding below.

Cleaning a ceiling fan this way will work to get excessive amounts of dust off of the blades, and keep your surfaces below clean, but you may still want to use a damp cloth afterwards, if you want to polish the up fan to have it look new again.

Best Way To Keep Your Fans Clean Without Cleaning

After you decide on which method is best to clean your ceiling fan, and you get it looking like new again, I would strongly suggest buying a bottle of DustOff. This is an amazing product that you will simply spray onto the blades and wipe the surface like dusting with furniture polish. Afterwards, go back over the blade with a dry cloth. Once this product is applied, it will create an anti-static film across the ceiling fan blade surfaces, and instead of dust clinging to the fan blades, it will simply be repelled and never build up.

I have tried this product and it really works! You will need to reapply it about once every year for it to continue to work as advertised.

Is There a Type of Ceiling Fan Blades that Stay Clean Longer than Others?

Yes! Although all ceiling fan blades are eventually going to need cleaning, the type blades that stays dust free the longest will surprise you.

Tropical ceiling fans, that use natural palm leaf blades, stay clean longer than any ceiling fan that uses wood, plastic, metal, or bamboo for the blades.

The reason why goes back to the beginning of this article, and how dust clings to fan blades because of the way blades create a static electric charge, from the friction created by the air resistance that happens in creating airflow. A real palm leaf blade does not build this static charge, as others do. Therefore, as long as your palm bladed fan stays in motion, most of the dust is naturally repelled. Still, it’s a good idea to dust in the creases of the palm fronds every month or two by using a feather duster.


If your fan has lights, don’t forget to clean the lights on the fan. As long as you’re already in the process of cleaning your fan blades to make it look good, it would make little sense to stop there, and leave a dirty light kit hanging from the fan.

Simply remove the glass and spray it with some glass cleaner, wipe it down and put it back on the fan. Many modern models use a single integrated glass shade, that twist off with about a half turn motion, without ever having to remove a single screw. With a fan like this, putting the finishing touch onto your ceiling fan cleaning project couldn’t be any easier.

If you have a way of cleaning your ceiling fan that has been left out of this article, please leave a comment below, and tell us your method. We are very interested in hearing other ideas and techniques used.

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