How to Clean a Bathroom Extractor Fan

It’s time to talk about your bathroom extractor fan. Firstly, if your bathroom doesn’t have one, you need to get one. A bathroom extractor fan is important for the health and safety of your family. You should run it when showering to avoid the build up of mould and mildew. It’s equally important to make sure you have a clean bathroom extractor fan

Unfortunately, it’s important that you regularly clean your bathroom extractor fan. The problem is that most people don’t know how to clean a bathroom extractor fan. That’s why we wrote this guide. This guide gives you a simple process to follow that should only take 15-20 minutes. 

There are a number of reasons that you should clean your extractor fan. Firstly, they accumulate a ton of dust and allergens that are not good for your health if they’re left undealt with. Secondly, a dirty extractor fan will not perform at 100% and could possibly even be a fire hazard. If the motor overheats then the dust build up in your fan housing could catch fire. Lastly, if you are moving our or selling your property, a dirty fan leaves a bad impression and may impact you getting your bond back. 

You don’t have to clean your bathroom extractor fan all the time – it only needs to be cleaned a couple of times a year. This article contains a step by step process to clean a bathroom extractor fan:

  1. Preparing to clean
  2. Making sure you don’t electrocute yourself
  3. The different parts of the extractor fan and how to clean them
  4. Putting it all back together 
how to clean a bathroom extractor fan

How to Clean a Bathroom Extractor Fan

1. Preparation

Before you start cleaning you want to do some preparation. Cleaning a bathroom extractor can be a very messy process, especially if it hasn’t been done in a long time. For this reason you’ll want to lay down an old sheet or some newspaper on the floor under the fan. Doing this will reduce the effort required to clean up afterwards because you’ll be able to easily catch most of the dirt and dust that will fall out of your extractor fan. 

Trust me, there will be a lot of dust and dirt that drop out. I cannot emphasise strongly enough the need to cover the floor underneath your extractor fan. I would also recommend you do this before you clean the rest of the bathroom, otherwise you’ll undo all of your hard work. 

If it has been a long time since you cleaned your bathroom extractor fan (or worse you have never cleaned it) you may want to take some health and safety precautions as well. You should wear a mask and use eye protection wherever possible.

bathroom exhaust fan cleaning

What happens when you don’t take our advice.

2. Don’t electrocute yourself 

Before you clean a bathroom extractor fan you need to make sure that it’s safe to clean by turning the electricity off. For starters, make sure the fan is turned off at the power point on the wall. To be extra safe, you should also ensure that the electricity is turned off at the circuit board. Having said that, it might make it difficult for you to clean the fan if you don’t have any light to see what you’re doing. If possible, clean the fan during the day when you’ve got some daylight or grab a head-torch. The reason it’s important to turn the electricity off is because you don’t know what state the wiring is in. If something is exposed, then you risk getting a bit of a shock.

Given that you will be working with all parts of the extractor fan, including the motor, you need to do everything that you can to ensure that you avoid the risk of electrocution. 

If you can’t safely reach the bathroom extractor fan from the floor you need to make sure you have an appropriate step ladder. Don’t use something unstable or unsafe. Whatever you do, don’t use an office chair or something with wheels. 

3. The different parts of the extractor fan and how to clean them

When cleaning your bathroom extractor fan, there are 3 major parts you need to focus on – the cover of the fan, the housing, and the extractor fan blades. Each of these parts needs to be cleaned thoroughly so your extractor fan can run efficiently and safely.

The bathroom extractor fan cover – The cover is the easiest part of the extractor fan to clean. To remove the cover you may have to unscrew it. Alternatively, you may find that there are some clips holding the cover in place. 

If you clean your extractor fan regularly you may only need to wipe it down with a duster or rinse it under a tap. If there is grime or dirt buildup, then you should start your cleaning process by soaking the cover in a tub of warm, soapy water. Next up, use a cloth, brush, or scourer sponge to clean away any dust and grime that might be caked on. Once clean, leave the extractor fan cover to air dry.

clean bathroom extractor fan cover

Cleaning the Extractor Fan Housing – Whilst you are waiting for the cover to dry, the next step is to clean the housing. This is probably the most difficult part to clean. If you haven’t cleaned your extractor fan before (or ever), then there’s probably going be a lot of gunk clogging it up. Dust and other tiny particles accumulate over time and you end up with matted clumps of dirt that look kind of like lint from a dryer, except more gross. 

Depending how much dirt has accumulated, you could either pull it out with your hands or remove some of it using a vacuum cleaner. If it’s really clogged up, then grab some gloves and pull as much as possible out by hand (you don’t want to risk breaking your vacuum). You’ll need to reach between the blades to pull out everything that’s trapped behind them blocking the airflow. 

Once that’s done, try to clean the rest of the extractor fan housing with a brush and a damp microfibre cloth. You might need to scrub some bits with if it’s really caked on, but be careful not to get water on the motor otherwise you could break it or electrocute yourself. 

Clean the bathroom extractor fan blades – The final cleaning step is to clean the blades and motor unit (if accessible). On some models, you can remove the blades from the motor and clean them under a tap with a brush, scourer sponge, or cloth. Doing that will allow you to access the motor unit, which you should wipe with a dry microfibre cloth. If the blades come off easily then do this step before cleaning the housing because the housing will be more easily accessible.

However, if, like most models, the blades on your extractor fan don’t come off easily, then don’t struggle with them lest you damage something. Just leave them on and try to clean them using a microfibre cloth or a scourer sponge.  

clean bathroom exhaust fan

4. Putting it all back together 

Once you have finished cleaning the various parts of your bathroom extractor fan, it is time to put everything back together. First you need to make sure all the parts are dry. Then you indeed to put the blades back into the housing unit (if you could get them off). Once the unit is back in place you need to make sure that you have reinstalled it correctly. You want to make sure that the blades are not hitting things that they shouldn’t. Turn it on and make sure it doesn’t make any funny noises.

Once the blades are back in place and you have ensured they don’t hit anything, put the cover back on and screw it in (if you need to). You should be ready to go. 

Once everything is back in place, do some testing to make sure everything is working properly (make sure the cover isn’t obstructing the blades by turning it on again and listening for noise. You will find that your extractor fan now works more efficiently and can more easily do the job that it is supposed to.


If you clean your bathroom extractor fan regularly the whole process from start to finish should only take 15-20 minutes. 

1. Turn off the power supply to the extractor fan – You need to make sure that you can work safely. So make sure that the power is turned off so you avoid the risk of electrocution.

2. Remove the cover and clean it – Whether you need to remove screws, or the cover just clips in, this is the first step. Remove the cover and clean it with a duster or under a tap. If required, you may need to soak your cover in a warm tub of soapy water to remove excess grime.  

3. Clean the housing for your extractor fan – Get your hands dirty and clean the built up gunk out of the fan housing. You can clean the housing and vent with a vacuum cleaner or by hand. 

4. Clean the fan blades – The next step is to clean the blades and motor. You can do this with a duster, scourer sponge, or cloth as required. You should remove the unit from the housing area to do this if possible.

5. Put it all back together and make sure it is still working – Once all of the parts are cleaned and dry it is time to put everything back together, turn the power on and make sure that everything is still working.

Of course, after reading this step by step process, you may decide that cleaning your bathroom extractor fan is still too hard. You may want to give us a call to find out how we can support your cleaning needs. If you would like a no-obligation quote about cleaning your house and ensuring that regular cleaning of your extractor fan is part of the process, do yourself a favour and get in touch today

Looking for more helpful cleaning tips? Check out our blog for tonnes more articles.

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