Tips for maintaining portable and ceiling fans
With proper care this fan would not need to be thrown away, but would be a wonderful vintage model instead.
A good fan is an acquisition that lasts decades. The timeless design of the devices matches any decor. On top of that most of our high-quality fans have up to 25 years manufacturer’s warranty on the first-rate motor. The units are quite easy to care for: regular maintenance by professionals is usually only required for entire ventilation systems. Ceiling and portable fans are satisfied with the occasional cleaning.
Reading time: 7:30 min
→ This guide is limited to wall-mounted and ceiling fans as well as pedestal and desk fans from our range. If you are interested in maintenance and cleaning of PC fans, check out our blog.
- Do electric appliances attract dust?
- What is dust?
- Dangers of dirt
- At the beginning: Safety first
- Maintenance and care
Do electric appliances attract dust?
Electric appliances, including ceiling fans or portable fans, are statically charged due to the current flow. Glass (lamp shades) and other synthetic materials (materials of the housing/blades) count among the materials that are easily charged. The have a magnetic pull on small particles like dust. You probably know this annoying phenomenon on stationary objects like the TV screen or receiver. Moving electric devices, like ceiling fans with lighting, offer ideal ground for a layer of dust.
What is dust?
Dust bunnies - chunks of dust that you can encounter at home - are actually a composition of many substances. That includes outdoor particles that have infiltrated the house through the window, door and street clothes as well as organic matter that is “produced“ inside the house.
Among other things dust is made up of soot particles from exhaust emissions, dirt on street shoes, fibres from textiles and paper, sand, soil, crumbs and rocks. Mites and their excretion, bacteria and small organisms such as mould spores, lint, dead skin cells, hair, plant parts (e.g. pollen) and many more also contribute to dust.
The dust bunny’s natural habitat is located underneath beds and closets. If they are not chased away in time, they seem like monstrous entities to scared toddlers, because move ghostly on their own with every draught.
! Nevertheless dirt can be extremely dangerous for children and people with allergies. Once a certain intolerance has been developed, the usual cleaning of the house might not be enough anymore. In that case we recommend air purifier units with increased filter capacity. They catch household dust and remove germs, viruses and bacteria from the indoor air.
Dangers of dirt
Seeing that is usually takes up a central space on the ceiling or the room, a dirty fan is not very pleasant to look at. Some motor housings of ceiling fans have ventilation slots that get clogged up by a dust layer. This film can make heat release difficult for the device, in the worst case causing malfunction. The additional weight constrains its rotation and airflow performance. The biggest danger is an overheating of the motor which promotes fire or damage. As maintenance work is not compulsory for ceiling fans, careful handling and cleaning is advised.
! Dust itself is not particularly electrically conducting. However when moistened by humid air it can lead an unwanted current flow to the fan.
Underneath the flare of the ceiling fan with light fixture or a normal pendant light dust particles in the air become visible. Dirt on lamps is quite problematic. It darkens the light intensity (with the power consumption staying the same) and creates unsightly spots in the cone of light. On LEDs and incandescent lamps deposits can even cause overheating and other damage.
Impurities like spots due to water and limescale, food particles and greasy fingers, discolouration due to grease in the kitchen air or cigarette smoke further “pollute“ the fans. Greasy deposits have their own weight that impacts the carefully adjusted rotor blades and causes an imbalance. The even, smooth operation of the fan is restricted, in the long term this can lead to damage of the bearings.
At the beginning: Safety first
Before beginning with any maintenance or cleaning work on the fan or other electric devices cut off the power supply. In case of small portable units it is enough to unplug the unit. Permanently installed ceiling fans should be disconnected on the fuse box. If the daylight in the room is not sufficient for the cleaning of the ceiling fan light a battery-operated torch light can help.
Do not clean the motor casing with a wet cloth, instead please make sure the cloth is wrung out and only slightly damp. All detachable parts such as protective grille and fan blades can be washed off and scrubbed properly.
Maintenance and care
Small fans can be disassembled before cleaning to reach to blades that are protected by the grille. Some fan blades with laminated film must not be cleaned with damp or wet cloth. Others can be put in the dishwasher. Carefully read the instruction manual that comes with your fan for more information.
Cleaning portable fans:
- cut off the power supply
- loosen screws of the grille, take off the cover
- take off the blades and clean them
- let them dry, if required dry them off with a cloth
Floor fans are exposed to dust, lint and hair more than any other type of fan due to their usual positioning. Manufacturers of those models are aware of this circumstance and so equip their devices with particularly robust housings, for example made of stain-resistant plastic. High-gloss casings are more susceptible to greasy fingerprints than brushed (satin-finish) metals.
PS: Despite their small size some floor and pedestal fans can be used for heat recovery in the winter. They circulate air around the room and generate an even indoor temperature in the process. Models that are constructed solely for use in summer are not unhappy about a basic cleaning either before they are packed up and stored away in the attic or closet during the cold season of the year where they are safe from dust. If you cannot find the original box anymore, it is perfectly acceptable to cover the fan with a linen sheet instead.
In combination with a UV lamp fans are used as efficient insect traps. They require cleaning more frequently so that unsightly debris can be removed. Detachable parts can usually be cleaned with water. The motor housing however should not be washed with water or wet cloth because electric appliances and water generally do not get along very well. Outdoor devices are subjected to contamination by particles and further impact by weather. Fans for outdoor areas and damp rooms require extensive cleaning. Increased humidity and evaporation from shower gels, bath oils and washing machine can lead to smears on fans in bathrooms. You might know this film from tiles and other bathroom furnishings. In case of extremely hard water it can be enough to just touch the fan with wet fingers to change settings and water spots are all over the device. On high gloss metal housings the result does not look very appealing. In order to stop these deposits from accumulating or becoming encrusted, lukewarm water with vinegar can be used. The acid dissolves the lime. Fans for damp rooms and outdoor fans are protected against splashing water with a special IP ratings. As they are exposed heavily to weathering, plant parts and insects, it is acceptable to clean them with a damp cloth. Even though these models are resistant to high humidity, they should not be exposed to water directly.
In contaminated areas such as workshops, hobby room and garage we recommend dust-proof fans.
The day after… not so pleasant for fans
Time to clean
Benefits of cleaning:
- aesthetic, clean surface
- protection of the motor
- smooth running
- prevention of overheating and fire
- protection of the bearings
- extended service life
- better indoor air quality
- brighter lighting
- upkeep, conservation
Utensils suitable for cleaning:
- soft brushes, e.g. with goat hair
- lint-free microfiber cloth
- feather duster with telescopic handle (for ceiling fans)
- pipe cleaner, paintbrush
- antistatic dry cleaning cloth
- nylon stocking
- slightly damp cloth with mild cleaning agent (antistatic effect)
We advise against:
- tissues, paper towels
- wet, damp cloth
- greasy tissues
- scratchy sponges, stiff bristles
Due to the attractive force statically loaded devices are not very easy to clean. Antistatic cleaning cloths and sprays show great results on surfaces made of glass or synthetic material. Take care that the sprays are explicitely designed for electric appliances and not just for textiles and flooring. They are used on the cloth or feather duster, not directly on the appliance. According various brands, these sprays leave an antistatic protective layer on the appliance that repels dust, meaning less fluff stays on the units.
Cleaning the surface with a vacuum cleaner attachment (nozzle with soft brush for the hoover) can save time if there is not too much dirt. This method should be applied carefully, especially in case of sensitive finishes and lacquers to prevent scratches. A hair dryer set to cold blowing can be helpful as well because the fan itself is not touched directly. However, the fan must be turned off before doing this!
Decorative applications on the housing, like they can be encountered on the Santa Pepeo fans, are easily reached with small paintbrushes, old soft toothbrushes, Q-tips or pipe cleaners. Clean the units starting from the top, then getting to the bottom.
Fans with blades or other parts made of genuine wood can be glazed with a wood preservative every now and then. Before doing so please detach these parts from the unit to ensure no liquid comes into contact with the motor. If you do not want to dissemble the components, make sure the wood stain is not dripping. It is better to go for two thin layers instead of one thick film.
Only put the parts back together after they have dried completely. Gently polish wooden parts with a soft cloth, e.g. made of fleece material. If you are washing an integrated woven filter medium, it must be dry before you can insert it again. Reassemble all components according to the instruction manual. Make sure all screws have been tightened properly to prevent dirt from getting on the inside.
First-rate motors are generally equipped with permanently lubricated ball-bearings and do not need to be lubricated with oil later on. Strictly adhere to the manufacturer’s instructions in any case. In case of self-inflicted damages on the motor due to poor care any warranty claims expire.
Ceiling fans and the small portable fans need some cleaning every now and then. They are exposed to insects, grease spots, contamination by soot, dust, cigarette smoke and small particles, etc. Not only at home, but also in public areas such as cafés and restaurants messy eating is bound to happen, and greasy fingers are used to turn devices on and off. Particularly portable summer fans suffer from being touched by smudgy fingers from eating fruit or ice cream, when children are playing with the units, the light fixture or shiny metals are touched. Apart from grease or water spots, loose hairs or small particles from the air can settle on the surface.
Dust and grease exist even in the most well-kept households. Usually it is enough to thoroughly clean the fan once a year. If the air is polluted strongly by dirt, smoke, weathering or greasy vapour from the kitchen, the unit should be cleaned more often to prevent sticky parts on the inside. The frequent cleaning of electric appliances is not only beneficial from an aesthetic point of view, but also protects the motor against overheating. The impact of fire prevention by means of cleaning fume hoods should not be disregarded, either. Replacing filters should be done in regular intervals.
Antistatic cloth and brushes with soft bristles are great for cleaning fans. Ceiling fans are reached easily with a feather duster, most of them come with extendable telescopic bars. The glass shade on ceiling fans with lights should be cleaned regularly from dust. Please only ever use water if it is explicitely stated in the instruction manual that its use is allowed. In that case it is acceptable to use a mild cleaning agent and a cloth that has been wrung out properly. Humidity and water must never get close to the electronics on the inside. Unfasten all washable parts and let them dry before reattaching them later on.
Generally speaking: Fans circulate air inside the room. The more lint and dust there is on the ground, picture frames, cupboards and so on, the higher are the chances that some of it builds up on the fan itself. A minimum of homemaking protects your electric devices.
Begin to clean the fans only after they have been disconnected from the power supply! Unplug the units and cut off ceiling fans from the power supply on the fuse box respectively.
Product pictures © creoven.de
Fan in suitcase © Giuseppe Porzani, fotolia.com
Cleaning pedestal fan © a3701027, fotolia.com
Fan in bar © phio, pixabay.com
Brush © Hans, pixabay.com