Cleaning your bathroom fan (with a light)

It was starting to take an unusually-long time to de-fog the bathroom in the mornings after my shower, and when I looked up at the fan vent, all I saw was dust and grime.  Time to clean it out.  Had I known it was going to be this easy I probably would have done it a long time ago.

Here’s what I used:

  • Phillips screwdriver
  • Shop vac (with a brush attachment)
  • dry rag

Here’s how to clean it.

1. Turn off the power.  Safety first.  Make sure that the power is off.

2. If you have a simple fan (without a light), you should be able to pull down lightly, squeeze some pins on the side, and pull the grate off.  If you fixture (like mine) has a light, you’ll need to pull the light cover down first (mine was plastic, but when the sides were squeezed together it popped right off.

3. Remove the light

4. Remove the grating and then look for screws and remove the piece that holds (and powers) the light.  It is likely plugged in (along with the fan)– carefully unplug and remove.

5. Unplug the fan as well.

6. Use the shop vac to clean all the dust and other gross-ness off everything you can see.

7. I was unable to get my fan out of the ceiling, so I used a toothbrush to clean the fan blades and everything else I could see.  This resulted in a dust shower all over the floor, but boy was it exhilarating to get all the crud out of the fan.

8. Once you’re done cleaning everything (plastic grating or plastic light covers can be soaked or rinsed in warm soapy water), plug the fan and light back in the way it was before.

9. Attach the grating and the piece that holds the light back into the ceiling with the screws

10.  Put the light back in.

11. Pop the light cover back in.

12. Turn on the power and test it.

I’ve listened to the difference, and my fan seems to be operating a lot smoother– not to mention my light is a ton brighter after cleaning out the light cover.

What Spring Cleaning projects have you been working on lately?

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8 responses

  1. Pingback: Cleaning Bathroom Fan : Useful Ideas

  2. Thanks for your step by step. I cleaned my fan with your help. Mine looked a lot worse than your “before” picture so I was pretty scared to start! But now it’s nice and clean. 🙂

  3. Thank you so much for this walkthrough! I’m in a rental house, no idea how long it’d been since the vent fan had been cleaned, and had no idea how to disassemble the thing. Googled “How does bathroom vent cover come off” by image, and voila, found your page. The unit in our bathroom is EXACTLY like this one. Got it apart without destroying anything, which is a win, in my book.

    And as it turned out… it looked like it had NEVER been cleaned. O_O Feeling a lot safer now. (Just about to put it all back together again.) Thanks again!

  4. Hi! I have the exact same fan and i cannot figure out how to get the grate of the fan off without breaking it. Would you mind explaining? I have the lightbulb exposed, I just want to now take off the grate to clean and it seems like I’m about to break the plastic eek. Thank you!! 🙂

    • Hey Whitney, mine just had a screw behind the lightbulb (visible once I took the lightbulb out). I imagine yours has one too? Mine might have been installed differently than the manufacturers recommended. Hope that helps!

  5. Thanks for the quick response, Megan! I’m still confused. It doesn’t look like there are screws for the plastic grate. I’m not trying to take off the metal that is behind the lightbulb yet. In your step 4, the photo has the grating removed but the metal still there (which I think is what you’re talking about with screws). I’m trying to get the plastic off so mine looks like your photo in step 4.

    • Hey Whitney,

      I wish I could be more help on this. I don’t actually live in that house anymore, so all I have for reference are the pictures in the post. If you look at the image in the post with the plastic sitting with the light bulb in it, you will notice that the sides of the plastic cover have these squeeze sides on it. My memory was that I sort of squeezed the sides together and the plastic popped off. I don’t remember it being difficult or tight– it’s possible if yours is that it’s a different model? If you want to send me a picture of your fan, perhaps I could help more? megeletto @ gmail Hope that helps!

      • You are so sweet for offering to help further! I ended up just unscrewing the metal and slipping the plastic over. Problem solved 🙂 thanks for your help!!

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