How To Clean A Box Fan (Step-by-Step Guide)

A standard box fan can be a lifesaver on a hot day. It will keep your home cool without wasting electricity or driving up your energy bill. Box fans are cheap, portable, and highly effective. But they have one major drawback: they can collect a lot of dust while they’re running.

To keep your air fresh and ensure a longer life for the fan, you can easily clean your box fan by taking it apart and scrubbing it down with a home cleaner.

Here’s a complete guide to cleaning your box fan in 6 easy steps.

How to Clean a Box Fan

1)Unplug The Fan

Before you start cleaning your box fan, you have to make sure it’s unplugged. The same can be said for any appliance or electronic device – it’s never safe to apply water to a device that is still plugged in. There is also a risk of the fan suddenly starting while you’re cleaning it.

Once your fan is unplugged, wipe down the power cord with a damp cloth to remove any dust. Then, set the fan on a flat surface at about waist height. If you don’t have a reliable workbench, a regular table is fine.

2)Remove The Outer Cover

To sufficiently clean your fan, you will have to take off the protective cover around the blades and motor.

Lay the fan down flat on your work surface. You will see small screws around the edges, fastening the metal grate to the frame. Depending on the model of your fan, there might be 6-8 screws.

Use a Phillips head screwdriver to remove the screws, then store them in a bowl or plastic bag so you can’t lose them while you’re cleaning the fan. You should then be able to lift the metal or plastic grate off the front of the fan. Flip your box fan over, and repeat the step to remove the other grate.

What if I can’t remove the cover?

Most box fans are designed to be easily taken apart and cleaned. However, if your fan casing does not have removable screws, you shouldn’t try to force it apart.

Just wipe down the outside of the fan, then run a handheld vacuum over the casing to suck up as much dust from the blades and motor as possible.

3)Clean The Outer Cover

Once you’ve dissembled your fan, you can clean the pieces individually. It’s up to you how you want to do that, but the easiest method is to follow these three steps:

Soak the grates: The plastic or metal grates on either side of your fan collect the most dust because of the way the air flows. They might be covered in thick, sticky grime that’s hard to scrub off.

Fill your bathtub with enough water to cover the grates, and mix in a little home cleaning solution, dish soap, or distilled white vinegar. Let the grates soak as you’re cleaning the rest of the cover — around 20 minutes.

Wipe down the inner casing: With the grates detached, you can easily access the inside casing of the fan. There will probably be a light coating or clumps of dust around the fan blades.

Spray a cleaning solution or a mixture of water and vinegar over the casing and wipe it down with a rag or paper towel.

Set aside and let dry: Pull the grates out of the tub and wipe them down with a rag. The dirt should come off easily if they have been soaking for long enough. Set all three parts of the outer cover of your box fan aside where they can dry.

4)Wipe Down The Fan Blades

The blades of your box fan are constantly moving, so they won’t collect as much dust as the casing and power cord. Still, while you have the fan disassembled, you should clean off the blades as well as you can.

Don’t spray a cleaning mixture or water onto the fan blades. You don’t want to risk getting any moisture in the motor vents, which can break the fan.

Instead, spray your cleaning mixture onto a rag or paper towel, and use it to gently wipe the blades.

5)Clean Around The Motor

The nooks and crannies around your fan’s motor will have collected a lot of dust and grime.

Again, it’s important to avoid spraying any water or cleaner directly onto this part of the fan. Instead, you can use a hand vacuum with the nuzzle attached to clean out the motor vents.

Cotton swabs are great for cleaning the hard-to-reach places, like ridges around the casing of the motor. It’s okay to use a little dish soap for this, but avoid heavy cleaners or sprays that will damage the motor.

6)Reassemble The Fan

Once everything is clean and dry, you’re ready to put your fan back together.

You may need to apply pressure with your hands or lightly tap the edges of the grates with a hammer to secure them back into place. Replace and tighten all the screws to secure them.

Before you plug your fan in again, take a look to make sure you didn’t miss any spots, like the underside of the handle or the power cord. Your fan should be 100% dry before you plug it in.  Turn the knob to make sure the fan is working, and enjoy your clean, cool air!

Why You Should Clean Your Fan

A dirty fan doesn’t just look bad – it also won’t last as long.

As dust builds up on your fan, it can get into the motor vents and eventually affect the function of the motor. You will get a lot more use out of your box fan if you clean it on a regular basis.

On top of that, a dirty fan is just blowing all that dust and dirt back into the air. The air in your home will be cleaner and safer to breathe if you keep your fan clean.

Maintaining Your Fan

Want to make sure your box fan lasts for a long time? A little maintenance will go a long way. Here are a few quick, simple tips to keep your fan in perfect working condition:

1. Vacuum outside the fan casing

You can slow the buildup of dust and grime on your fan by simply running your handheld vacuum over the casing every once in a while. It’s still important to clean the fan, but this will help keep too much dust from accumulating around the motor between cleanings.

2. Inspect the bottom of your fan

If your box fan rattles on a hard surface, there’s probably something wrong with the base.

Rubber stoppers and padding can often fall off the base of a fan, making it louder and much less stable. To stop it from falling over (and bugging you) just replace the missing padding with a rag, piece of sponge, or fabric swatch.

3. Check for loose casing

The movement of your fan can cause the screws to loosen over time. Tug on the outer grates to make sure they aren’t loose. If a grate feels loose, push it back into place and tighten the screws, before it can fall off.

4. Safely store your fan

If you don’t use your box fan year-round, you shouldn’t let it sit out where it can gather dust.

Thoroughly clean it using the steps above, then put it in a box and store it somewhere safe and dry, like your basement, garage, or an attic fit for storage.

If you’re going to be storing the fan for more than a few months at a time, you can add an extra layer of protection by wrapping it in a garbage bag or other plastic coating.

Related Questions

How often should I clean my box fan?

Depending on your climate and how often you use your fan, it can get dusty fairly quickly.

As a general rule, you should clean your fan whenever it looks noticeably dirty. If you can see dirt on the outside, that means there is just as much (or more) on the inside. That buildup of grime can eventually hurt the motor.

How much does a box fan cost?

Box fans are among the cheapest home cooling solutions available. A standard fan with a plastic casing will cost as little as $20 at a home goods store.

More expensive models are available – however, that price difference is generally based on appearance, not function. You’ll be able to cool your home just as effectively with a cheap model.

How much does it cost to run a box fan?

Box fans are not very expensive to run – they cost as much as any standard electronic appliance, and much less than running your air conditioner.

If the cost of one kilowatt of electricity is 13 cents per hour (standard for much of the U.S.), your fan should take less than 20% of that. That’s just 2.6 cents per hour!