Clean Your Filthy Extractor Fan, or THIS Is What Happens

Spoiler Alert: Your bathroom is full of moisture & dust which combine together and can cause serious mould problems if you're not careful.

A bathroom extractor fan is one of the best ways to combat this, but like anything, it requires cleaning and maintenance to ensure it keeps ticking for years to come. Here's how to clean your extractor fan before, well... just take a look.

Imagine leaving a hoover/vacuum to just keep filling up without emptying it; the suction becomes weak, it doesn’t suck up dust, and it just moves the filth around. You might think that because your bathroom extractor fan doesn’t have a bag it means you can just ignore it. But that’s not the case.

A filthy or blocked extractor fan results in:

  • A dusty bathroom

  • A smelly bathroom (just like a blocked drain or a full vacuum)

  • A waste of electricity, since it’s not actually doing anything

  • A noisy extractor fan

  • Mould. Everywhere. And we're talking from personal experience here

Preventing the “Perfect Recipe for Sticky Grime”

Your bathroom extractor fan is the dustiest part of your bathroom. That’s partly its job. But a bathroom extractor fans main role is to circulate the air in the room and suck out the moisture, rather than letting it settle. So, moisture and filth - a perfect recipe for sticky grime - is constantly moving through this ventilation system where multiple layers of obstacles provide ample space to stick to.

Obviously, fan manufacturers are fully aware of this issue, but extractor fans pull in over 2,000,000 cubic feet of air a year. That’s a lot. So no matter how well-designed a fan is, it’s going to be doing a lot of ventilating and sucking up bath-fulls of moisture even in a small home. Mixing it with dust. Let’s say 99% of that all gets sucked away without sticking to anything (which is unlikely) you’re still left with 20,000 cubic feet of moisture and dirt clogging the system up every year. That’s the absolute best-case scenario. Just imagine what the actual figure is.

 

What Happens in Your Home When Moisture Escapes from the Bathroom

This is the real result of a room BELOW a bathroom where the ventilation fan hadn’t been cleaned in a year:

 

Mould-panic.jpg

 

Prevention is the Best Policy

By far the best selling (and affordable) extractor fans that Tap Warehouse sells are the HiB range. The boxes barely touch the warehouse shelves before being shipped out in huge amounts. They’re popular. And about as famous as an extractor fan can be.

If you want an extractor fan you can rely on, check out HiB's complete collection of extractor fans.

 

How to Clean Your Extractor Fan Properly

So while letting your extractor fan get dirty causes no end of headaches, the solution is breathtakingly simple.

 

What You’ll Need

 

  • Newspaper or an old sheet

  • Stepladder or a stable base (or just a really tall friend?)

  • Bucket of soapy water (washing up liquid is fine)

  • Wash cloth or rag

  • Towel

  • Duster*

  • Hoover/vacuum

  • Screwdriver (if your fan has a cover)

 

*We've seen people recommend a toothbrush or a paintbrush or similar. A duster is better idea since it’ll collect the dust, rather than just knock it out into your bathroom

 

Recommended:

  • Something to keep the filth out of your hair

  • If there are signs of mould, then use a facemask

 

Not Recommended:

  • Scouring agents or brush pads will scratch smooth surfaces and add more places for grime to collect

 

Preparing

  • Turn off the power. Please. Just turn it off.

  • To turn it off, use either the switch or the circuit breaker

  • Lay down your sheet or newspaper in order to catch anything that falls out - which is hopefully just dust

  • Cover your mouth and hair or be prepared to breathe in some very unpleasant particles

 

Removing the Cover

  • Unscrew the cover and remove/slide it off

  • You might have to reach behind the cover once loose to undo any spring clips

  • If just a bit dusty: use a vacuum on both sides

  • If mouldy or sticky: Pop the cover into some soapy water of its own and let it soak

 

Dusting

  • You can use a vacuum here, but a duster is likely easier and more effective

  • Dust behind the fans inside the vent

  • Clean behind the back of the fan blades, if possible

  • Sweep the rest of the fan unit with the duster

  • Remember that the goal is to remove the dust, not push it out into the rest of the room

 

Scrubbing

  • Double check you turned the power off. Just for me. I worry

  • Dip your cloth or rag in the soapy water and get scrubbing in and around the unit

  • Wring it out between uses so you’re not just moving the dust around

  • You might need to scrub a few times, and you might have to scrub pretty hard

 

Drying

  • It’s important to dry everything properly, so give it a good wipe with a towel

  • Dry the cover, too

 

Replace the Cover

  • Once dry and completely clean, put the cover back on

  • Make sure everything is secure and the way it was before you started (except way cleaner)

 

Also, Here’s Some Links to Common Extractor Fan Technical Manuals

Obviously, there might be differences between each fan, and when you open it up you might realise that now would be the perfect time to make sure everything is in tip-top shape. Well, here’s some links for you (we take no responsibility for the content of these links, I’m just tipping you off to what I believe are helpful documents provided by their respective manufacturers):

 

Hib Cyclone Fans Manual:

http://www.hib.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/05-001-Fitting-Instructions-151221.pdf

 

Vent Axia Manuals:

http://www.vent-axia.com/manuals/select

 

Manrose Manuals:

http://www.manrose.com/domestic.htm

 

Xpelair Fan Manuals (third-party website, content may change):

http://homeappliance.manualsonline.com/manuals/mfg/xpelair/xpelair_fan_product_list.html

 

Conclusion

So, to conclude, it takes roughly 10 minutes of prep and 10 minutes of work to clean your bathroom extractor fan. Your reward is less chance of mould, a less humid bathroom, a less noisy fan, a nicer smelling bathroom, a cleaner bathroom, and the gratification that comes with completing a task. Good work.