How to Clean Your Portable Fan, Because Its Blowing Gross Air

Illustration for article titled How to Clean Your Portable Fan, Because It's Blowing Gross Air

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Summer’s nearly here, and you know what that means: It’s time to bust out the box fans and wonder how on earth they got dirtier since you last saw them. Hair, dirt, lint, and all kinds of other gross airborne stuff build up on fans over time—and if you don’t clean it off, it all blows back in your face.

The good news is that most household fans are very easy to disassemble and clean, even if you’re not much of a DIY-er. All you’ll need is a Phillips head screwdriver, a small bowl or dish for the screws, two rags, and some vinegar or dishwashing liquid. An old toothbrush or small bottle brush can help you get into the nooks and crannies, but if you don’t have one, rags will do just fine.

You’ll be dealing with a lot of dust, so I strongly recommend cleaning your fans outside. (Seriously, set up on your stoop if you have to—it won’t take long.) Locate the screws holding the screens on, unscrew them, and set the screens aside. Keep the screws in a small bowl or dish so they don’t roll away on you. Use one rag to wipe dust and hair off the screens, blades, and any other dirty-looking parts, shaking off the excess into the breeze as you go. Once you’ve removed the solids, apply some vinegar to the other rag and attack whatever’s left. A few drops of dishwashing liquid will dissolve the extra-stubborn grease, but be sure to thoroughly remove any soapy residue so it doesn’t attract even more dust.

When everything has been scrubbed to your satisfaction, leave the disassembled fan out in the sun to dry off. If you don’t have the outdoor space for that, dry everything off as best you can with a clean, dry towel. All that’s left to do now is replace the screens and screws and enjoy a fresh, clean breeze.

Depending on what kind of gunk regularly flies through the air in your house, you may need to repeat this process once or twice during fan season—especially if it overlaps with wildfire and DIY air purifier season, as it does here in Portland. But once you see how easy it is to clean a fan, you’ll never let yours get hopelessly grody again.

 

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