How to Clean Bathroom Exhaust Fan with Light? (7 Easy Steps)

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Bathroom fans are key in removing unwanted odors and moisture from your space. So keeping them clean and running tip-top is important. Luckily, learning how to clean a bathroom exhaust fan with light is pretty easy. Follow along our step-by-step instructions below!

According to FamilyHandyMan, cleaning an exhaust fan every 6 months is necessary as this duration is enough for an exhaust fan to collect unwanted mold and mildew. These units are absolute magnets for built-up dust over time. Taking a few minutes extra every couple months will aid in keep them running smoothly and quietly for years to come.

dirty bathroom fan blades and cover
Does your bathroom fan look like this? Time to clean!

Right now, if you have noticed dust buildup, mold, or mildew on your bathroom exhaust fan with light, then it is the right time to clean it. We tend to not look up at these things, so you may not notice how dirty they get!

Most users think that cleaning an exhaust fan is a headache. But don’t worry, I’ve outlined my simple & easy steps for you to get started.

How to Clean Bathroom Exhaust Fan with Light?

Exhaust Fan with Light
Broan Exhaust Fan with Light

Step 1: Turn Off Light Switch

For safety reasons, the first step in cleaning an exhaust fan with light is to turn off the wall switch. For added security, you can also choose to identify and switch off the circuit breaker on your panel, but this is not necessary.

Step 2: Remove Plastic Cover Plate

In the next step, you have to remove the diffused plastic cover plate by slightly pressing the end tabs. On pressing, the plastic plate will drop down freely.

Once you get your hands on the plastic plate, keep it aside for cleaning.

Step 3: Remove Light Bulb

Light bulbs are prone to attracting lots of dust. They tend to get that ‘baked on’ in a bathroom environment with the increased humidity. Remove the lightbulb for cleaning.

Step 4: Remove Center Nuts

On removing the bulb, you will get exposed to center nuts. Center nuts hold base plate assembled to the center post. To remove, use flat head pliers or screwdrivers.

When I was removing mine, some of the nuts fell into the shower. To avoid this, place a towel over the drain to catch any stray nuts if they drop!

Step 5: Remove Fan Housing

As you have removed the nuts, the housing will drop down freely. I recommend you to pull it slowly as there is a wire connector that needs to be unplugged. Unplug the light kit from the ceiling fan and keep it aside for cleaning.

Removing the fan assembly out of the ceiling isn’t necessary. Leaving this installed is fine. Don’t worry, it is still cleanable.

Step 6: Start Cleaning

Once you have removed everything, it’s time to clean all parts one after the other.

For the bulb, once it is cool to touch, clean it by using a light spray of windex and wiping down with a cloth or paper towel.

For the fan cover plate I like to let it soak for a few minutes in soapy water in the sink. Afterwards its easy to gently clean the loosened debris.

To clean plastic fan housing, you can soak it the same way in warm soapy water.

To clean fan blades they are usually the dirtiest. You can use a small brush or vacuum. A vacuum will be more useful to reach hard-to-remove clumps of dust. Be careful not to bend the fan blades by applying excessive force. After vacuuming, wipe down the blades with a damp cloth.

Step 7: Reassemble Everything

After giving everything (light bulb, cover plate, grating, and fan blades) a good cleaning, reinstall the parts.

When reassembling the fan’s cover plate, ensure that you have plugged the wire, which was initially unplugged (in step five). Now, attach the grating and screw the nuts properly.

Put the light back and light cover back in its place (ensure it is dry).
Lastly, Turn on the power and test it.

How To Clean Bathroom Exhaust Fan (with light)

How Often to Clean Bathroom Exhaust Fan?

A bathroom exhaust fan needs to be cleaned at regular intervals to prevent dust build-up. If your exhaust fan is running under normal usage, consider cleaning every 6 months.

Continuous usage of bathroom exhaust fans attracts moisture which can result in mold and mildew formation. If so, consider cleaning every 3 months.

Failing to clean your bathroom fan regularly will impact its performance greatly. Make this part of a seasonal cleaning regimen. See my latest post on useful bathroom cleaning hacks for more great ideas!

UsageCleaning Frequency
Normal (fan running when bathroom in use)6 months
Excessive (fan running continuosly, 24/7)3 months

FAQ: Cleaning Bathroom Exhaust Fan with Light

Can you clean light bulbs in water?

light bulb

Do not submerge a bulb directly into the water. Instead, use a wet cloth to wipe the dust and ensure the bulb is dry before re-installing and use.

Avoid cleaning the electrical contact (base) with a wet cloth to prevent unnecessary damage or corrosion. I like to use a paper towel sprayed with a bit of windex. Easy!

How to clean fans the plastic cover plate?

You can soak or rinse it with a soapy water solution. Or use a cloth dampened with water and soap. Then gently clean and let dry before reassembling.

How to clean the fan blades?

You can either use a toothbrush or vacuum. Really, using both is best, especially if your fan blades are very dirty. Using the toothbrush to loosen up the built-up debris while vacuuming will get most of the blades clean. The vacuum should instantly suck up the caked-on dust and grime so you don’t have to sweep it up after. Be especially careful to not put too much pressure on the fan blades!

Do I need to worry about electric shock?

If you follow the steps noted above, by turning off your switch or by flipping off your circuit breaker, you need not worry at all. You bathroom fan assembly will not have power running to it, and is completely safe to clean inside. Just follow our easy steps and you’ll have a clean bathroom fan and light in no time!

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