If you have a ceiling fan in your apartment, chances are you’ve never given a second thought to cleaning it until now. Unfortunately, the speed of a ceiling fan means that it collects a startling amount of dust, dirt, grime and grunge from the very air in your home, and can be a source of unhealthy bacteria.
Keep it Clean
The most important thing is to maintain a regular cleaning schedule, especially during times of year when the fan is operating much of the time. The fan will collect dust and bacteria even while stationary, but even more so when in motion. I recommend thoroughly cleaning your ceiling fan at least once a month during times when it’s not being used much, and twice a month during warmer times.
The Basic Techniques
To clean the ceiling fan, first find a safe, secure way to get above the blades of the fan (naturally, turn the fan off during these cleaning procedures). A step ladder works for lower ceilings, depending on your natural height, while a full-fledged ladder might be necessary for harder-to-reach fans.
First, use a dust buster or the hose attachment from your vacuum to give the blades and housing of the fan a good dusting-off, paying special attention to the joints where the blades meet the motor casing. Alternatively, a commercial feather duster or homemade duster would be equally as effective in removing dust; however the vacuum has the clear advantage in that it removes the dust from the air as well.
Once the initial dusting is done, fill a bowl with warm water and soap, and obtain a clean cloth. To avoid dangerous and potentially fatal accidents, do not carry the bowl of water to the top of the ladder with you. Instead, wet the cloth in the soap and water, wring it out, and ascend the ladder with only the cloth in hand. Wipe down the blades on all sides, the housing of the motor, and the stem of the fan itself, making sure to get every inch. Wash off your rag after every blade for maximum effect. Dry the fan thoroughly afterwards.
Alternative to this step, you could use any of several commercially available cleansers, making sure to choose one that will not harm the paint or protective coating of your fan.
For wooden or faux-wooden fan blades, lemon oil or furniture polish can be applied after the initial cleaning to brighten up the fan’s appearance. Again, be sure that your chosen brand of polish will not conflict with any varnishes, paints or protective coatings that your fan may have on it.
The Dangers of a Dirty Fan
A little-known side effect of a dirty fan is a tendency to wobble due to imbalance, damaging the motor and possibly necessitating costly repairs. It’s doubly important to maintain your regular cleaning schedule to avoid these kinds of problems.
Only regular cleanings and careful attention to proper cleaning procedure will keep your fan functional, safe and in good shape for a long time.
Jordan Gaither: I’m a Communications major by trade, an artist by choice, a welder by day and a dancer by night (Okay, I made that last part up). Having lived in a succession of cramped, oddly-shaped apartments, I have a wealth of personal experience in apartment living, as well as arranging and decorating to maximize effect and livable space.