Cleaning your bathroom may not be your favourite household chore, but at least it’s pretty straightforward. In fact, you probably have some sort of routine down pat: Putting cleaner in the toilet to work its magic while you clear off the floor and counters, giving everything a quick-but-thorough wipe-down, running the vacuum through the room, and then giving your toilet a final scrub. (Or something like that.)
And while that’s great to do on a regular basis, you also want to give your bathroom a deep-cleaning every so often, where you tackle any problem spots in the tub or shower, wash the floors, and really get into the tiny nooks and crannies that collect dust and dirt. But even doing that, you still may be missing a crucial part of your bathroom: The exhaust fan. Here’s how to clean it.
Why you need to clean your bathroom exhaust fan
Because its job is moving air around, it may seem like your bathroom fan should be self-cleaning, but alas, it’s not. In addition to flushing out malodorous air, exhaust fans also remove steam from hot showers and baths and any other excess moisture from the room, preventing (or at least reducing) the growth of mould and mildew.
But, like the rest of your home, bathroom exhaust fans are prone to getting dusty and dirty over time, which can block the grates in the cover, and prevent the fan from doing its important job. Cleaning your bathroom exhaust fan takes a little bit of effort, but the good news is that you usually only need to do it once or twice a year (depending on the dust levels in your home).
How to clean your bathroom exhaust fan
The whole process should take no more than 20 minutes. Here’s what to do:
- Before doing anything else, shut off the power to the fan at the circuit box. Then, switch the fan on when you get back to the bathroom to make sure that it doesn’t power on.
- Make sure you have enough light. If your bathroom has a window, this is a job to do during daylight hours. If your bathroom doesn’t have a window, bring a flashlight or other battery-operated lighting device so you can see what you’re doing.
- Use a sturdy step-stool or ladder that allows you to comfortably reach the fan, and remove its cover. If it’s a relatively new model, there are likely tension clips holding it in place, which you simply press to remove. Older fans tend to use screws instead, so you’ll need either a Phillips or flathead screwdriver to remove it.
- Use a dry cloth or vacuum to remove any loose dirt or dust clumps from the fan cover, then place it in a bin with warm water and dish soap, allowing it to soak while you tackle the rest of the fan.
- Get back up on the ladder and use a vacuum attachment (or a can of compressed air) to get as much dirt and dust as possible from the inside of the fan, including from the blades. If there’s anything left that you’re unable to clean with the vacuum attachment, use a soft cloth to wipe it away.
- Check on your fan cover. Use a soft cloth (and some elbow grease, if necessary) to remove any stuck-on grime, then rinse the cover, and allow it dry completely.
- Finally, pop (or screw) on the fan cover, and turn the circuit breaker back on.
Now that your bathroom exhaust fan is clean, don’t forget to use it every time you take a hot shower or bath, and then for about 20 minutes after — or until the room is no longer steamy. If you don’t, you may find yourself in dire need of a dehumidifier (or similar) very soon.