Fix ventilation problems in your bathroom for free

I recaulked by bathtub a few weeks ago and decided to clean the bathroom fan while I was at it, figuring a clean bathroom fan would exhaust the fumes more quickly than a dirty one. I’ve cleaned the vent cover but never the fan itself.

The fan blades were each covered with about a quarter-inch of dust – enough to almost completely close off the airspace between the blades. The dust was gray and looked like ashtray buildup. Mmmm, yummy. I might be the first person to clean this fan since the house was built 40 years ago.

I started cleaning the fan in place, but it was difficult to reach all the parts, and gross to have that gray dust falling on my hair. So I unplugged it and brought it down to the kitchen sink.

This is the fan after I’ve shaken off the bulk of the dust. As you can see, there’s still a pretty substantial coating on each blade, as well as the motor:image

I cleaned the fan in my kitchen sink using water and a couple old toothbrushes, being careful not to get the motor wet.

Then I let it dry for a few hours before reinstalling it. This is what it looks like now:


It’s not sparkling, but it’s a lot better than it was. There’s no dust build-up on the blades to block the airflow, so it exhausts much better than it did before. For years, I’ve had in the back of my mind that I needed a new bathroom fan. Turns out all I needed to do was clean it.

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