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?


Sealing grout & tile

When I finished my subway tile backsplash, I sealed the tile so that food and other grime would easily wipe off and not stain my brand-new white grout.  The process was so easy that I decided I wanted to seal the grout & tile in my upstairs shower.  Of course, to do so meant that I needed to deep clean the shower to prep it– something that I put off for a long time.

If you’re sealing newly-laid tile, you can go ahead and just seal it.  If you’re sealing existing tile, make sure you clean it first.  Otherwise you’re just going to seal in the grout stains.

Here’s what you need:

  • Grout & tile sealer (I bought THIS at Home Depot, jut make sure you buy a sealer for the appropriate kind of tile– mine was porcelain tile)
  • Large sponge (I just reused my tiling grout sponge)

What to do:

1. Deep clean your tile.  I ended up using: 1 tablespoon TSP (Trisodium Phosphate, you can buy this at any home improvement store) and 1 gallon hot water.  I used a non-scratching scrubbing pad I bought at Walmart and scrubbed each and every tile.  Soap scum is gross.

2. Deep clean your grout.  Use a 3 to 1 mixture of baking soda to bleach and scrub the grout with an old toothbrush or grout scrubber.

3. Rinse and wipe down everything.

4. Towel dry and let it air dry for a couple of hours.

5. Pour some grout sealer on your sponge and run down and across each grout line.  Work in sections.  When you’ve covered every line, rub the sealer over all the tiles too.  To see that the sealer got into the grout, you should notice the grout turn a littler darker– like it’s wet.

6. Wait 5-15 minutes (depending on your sealer– read the label!) and repeat.

7. Dry-wipe the tiles and give it 24-48 hours to cure.

There isn’t really a dramatic before & after, but the process of sealing should really help.  Remember that tiles requires cleaning, and after enough cleanings the sealer is going to break down.  I believe they recommend that you apply sealer every 6 months.

Have you been working on any bathroom projects lately?

Cleaning your dryer

Did you know that your dryer is one of the leading causes of house fires?  And that you can avoid that scary mess just by cleaning it.

How many times have you thrown a load of laundry in the dryer and then headed out to run errands, or to bed?

Yeah, that thought terrifies me.  So, I finally accomplished a task I’d been meaning to take on for months.  And except for squeezing back behind the dryer, it was actually really easy!

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • A phillips screwdriver
  • A hex socket screwdriver set (I bought a cheap-o set at HD for $5.  It allows me to use regular screw bits or the hex sockets.  The backside of the dryer is held on with hex screws)  Something like THIS.
  • A shop vac with a brush attachment
  • A dry rag
  • A broom, mop & water, or a wet rag.

Here’s what to do:

1. Turn off the power to the unit from your breaker box (Safety first!) OR, if you have a gas dryer, turn that off.

2. Take out the lint trap and set aside

3. Take out the two phillips screws by the lint trap hole.

4. Pull the dryer out from the wall so you can get behind it.

5. Unscrew the vent attachments from the wall and from the dryer.

5. Unscrew the back panel.  There is a small panel where your electric wires feed in.  Remove that small metal piece.  Then remove the screws near the electric wires and the three screws on either side of the back panel.

6. Pull back panel off and set aside.

7. Start unscrewing the black metal lint compartments (this piece connects the lint trap to the air output pipe).  There will be 5 or 6 screws holding this piece on.

8.  Carefully lift the piece up and pull it out.

9. Vacuum every piece of lint or dust you see.  Everywhere.  From the back panel, the vent piece, the wires, the fan, the black lint piece you just took out, etc.  If you can’t get it out with the shop vac, use the dry rag to reach it.  I found that my shop vac arm wouldn’t reach down into the black lint piece, so I reached down into it with a rag to clean it out.

As a side note, I found bobby pins, nails, buttons, plastic, pennies, and tons of other random objects that shouldn’t be in my dryer when I vacuumed it out.

10. If you have a long venting system (from the dryer to wherever it dispels outside), make sure to clean that.  Mine just goes through an exterior wall and directly outside, but if your venting is longer, be sure to buy a long-snake brush to clean it.

11. Once all the pieces are lint-free, put them back on.  Black lint piece first, then the back panel, the small electrical panel, and then the phillips screws near the lint trap.

12. Take this opportunity to sweep and mop behind the washer and dryer (you know you’re not going to do it otherwise).

13. Push the units back into place and go outside to find the place your dryer air dispels from the house.  Use the shop vac and long-snake brush to clean.  Make sure that all of the little flaps swing freely.

14. Use warm water, dish soap, and an old toothbrush to clean out the lint trap.  Make sure that water runs freely through it– sometimes dryer sheets can create an invisible film over the lint trap and cause overheating.  It’s a good practice to get the lint off each time you run your dryer, and wash the trap with water and soap periodically.

15. Turn the power back on and run the Air Fluff cycle– if we dislodged something, this will push it out.

Now you can run your dyer without worrying it might burn your house down!  Just knowing that it’s clean is a reassurance for me– plus, I took this opportunity to wipe down the exterior surfaces so it looks all shiny and new.

How about you?  Any Spring Cleaning projects you’re ready to tackle?