Rafed English

Quick Cleaning for Fans and Air Conditioners

Biggest Challenges

1. Grungy ceiling-fan blades
2. Dusty portable fans
3. Clogged air conditioner filters and vents

Tools You'll Use

Old tablecloth or sheet
Extendable duster and step stool
Microfiber cloth
Sudsy water or blow-dryer
Vacuum with dusting attachment
Replacement AC filters, if needed

Fastest Fixes

1. Clean ceiling-fan crud

To get rid of the grime that all ceiling fans seem to collect (created by dust clinging to greasy airborne particles), place an old fabric tablecloth or sheet underneath the fan; a shower cap to protect your hair from debris also isn't a bad idea. With an extendable duster, go over the tops and bottoms of the blades to capture loose dust. Or just grab a step stool, and dust with a dry microfiber cloth on both sides of blades. Shake out the cloth, lightly dampen it; wipe blades again, this time picking up any oily film. Give glass fixtures a pass with a clean section of cloth while you're up there.

2. Wash portable fans

When you need a cool breeze, the last thing you want is dust blowing back at you. Here's how to spruce up portable fans in a hurry: Unscrew or unclip the front grille and slide off the fan blades (nearly all fans, even old ones, can be taken apart this way). Immerse, then swish the blades in a sink filled with warm, sudsy water. Rinse and dry the blades before reinstalling them; clean the grille the same way. (If time's really an issue — or if the grille or blades aren't removable — take the fan outside by an electric outlet and blast it with cool air from your blow-dryer, front and back.) Wipe down the base and buttons with a damp cloth.

3. Freshen AC filters, save $$$.

Clogged air conditioner filters and vents make these units work harder — and can inflate your electric bill. Most central AC units and some window-mounted ones will need a new filter each year (about $10 to $20). For window units with a washable filter (Not sure about yours? Check the manual or manufacturer's Website), remove the filter and rinse under a warm faucet until the water runs through clear. Let air-dry for a few hours before reinstalling. (For ACs that are always running, do this a few times during the summer.) If there's a musty smell when you first use it, mist the filter with an odor eliminator like Febreze Fabric Refresher and run the fan until the staleness dissipates. Lastly, with your vacuum's soft dusting brush, go over the grilles on window units or the central air's vents to nab dust and webs (use your vacuum's wand to reach high vents).

Make It Easier Next Time

- Before storing portable fans, give them a dust-off with a cool blow-dryer to remove loose debris; cover with a plastic trash bag.

- Buy an extra AC filter on sale at the end of the season to have ready for next year.

- When buying new ceiling fans, look for those with removable blades for easy cleaning.

Share this article

Comments 0

Your comment

Comment description