Recently, we noticed that our box fans weren’t providing much cool air. Before dropping over $150 to replace them all, I decided to see if cleaning them would improve their airflow capabilities. After all, they were still functioning mechanically, they weren’t putting out the air flow they used to.
With temperatures in excess of 80 degrees almost all year round here, box fans are a needed appliance in our home. We can’t go without them, as running the AC is cost-prohibitive.
These fans are all about a year old, and while I have vacuumed the front and back of them previously (I do it once a week), they had never been taken apart and cleaned.
Gather all the tools needed before you start. For this job you will need:
- A sheet to cover your work area.
- A screwdriver (our fans all have Philips head screws)
- A dish to hold the screws while the fan is disassembled
- All-purpose cleaner. I used Comet Lilac Bliss- it’s what we had in the house, and it worked really well.
- A stiff-bristled brush. I used the brush I use to scrub the soap scum/hard water deposits out of the bathtubs (like this)
- Rags or really scratchy paper towels. You need something that will trap the dirt.
- Vacuum Cleaner with a brush attachment.
Here are my tips for deep cleaning your fans-
- UNPLUG THEM! It seems like a no-brainer, but I’m going to remind you to not clean appliances that are still plugged in.
- Remove the front and back plastic pieces of the fan. Ours were held together with 6 screws.
- To remove the dirt/fuzz/cat/hair/whatever grossness that was on the fan front and back, I placed them in the bathtub and sprayed them down with all-purpose cleaner. I allowed them to sit for about 20 minutes while I cleaned the fan blade and fan case.
- Using all-purpose cleaner and a rag, carefully spray and wipe the fan blades, both front and back sides.
- Using the vacuum hand tool with the brush attachment, clean the interior of the fan case, as well as the backside of the fan motor. I was amazed at the amount of fuzz, dirt, and hair was around the intakes for the fans.
- Once the fan blades and fan case are clean, return to the bathroom and scrub the fan front and back. Rinse and dry completely.
- Reattach the front and back to the fan case, plug in and test out. All 6 fans worked 100% better after being cleaned. This is now a chore that has been added to the end of season home cleaning list.
Cleaning all of the fans took about 2 hours, and that included time to make snacks for two very starving kids, let the cat in and out a few times and help with math homework. Without distractions, I could have gotten done in about an hour.
In the future, I may invest in some of these Box Fan Filters, which until today I had no idea existed.
Taking care of appliances, like these box fans is just another way that we are able to extend the useful life of often-used items in our homes, and that saves us money in the long run.
Talk Back: What types of small things do you do to extend the life of your small appliances?