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It’s easy to put off dusting your ceiling fan for another month—out of (direct) sight, out of mind. But don’t. The chore is imperative to keep all that dirt and pollen on the blades from recirculating into your home’s air. (Allergies, anyone?) If you’re thinking there has to be a better way than wobbling on an unsteady chair and craning your neck, only for the dust to settle onto the furniture, there is. Below, Kristiana Laugen—a home expert at Handy, an online marketplace for home improvement and cleaning services—breaks down how to clean a ceiling fan effectively and the four supplies you’ll need.

How Often Should You Clean Ceiling Fans?

Laugen suggests cleaning your fan at least once every two months to prevent too much dust (and therefore dust mites, which can trigger allergic reactions and asthma) from collecting. If you or someone you live with has bad allergies, aim for once a month. But Laugen also recommends buying a dedicated ceiling fan duster and adding a quick dusting to your weekly cleaning schedule. That way the deep cleans will be a breeze.  

Common Mistakes to Avoid When Cleaning Ceiling Fans

Don’t Use a Typical Feather Duster

Dusting willy-nilly will only displace the dirt, creating a new mess below. “Preventing that dust from free-falling down to other surfaces will save you the hassle of having to do another deep cleaning afterward,” says Laugen. Instead employ the pillowcase trick, explained in the instructions, below. 

Don’t Forget to Gear Up

If you’re sensitive to allergens and dust, Laugen recommends wearing a mask and gloves to prevent flare-ups during the cleaning process. 

How to Clean Ceiling Fans

The Supplies

  • Sturdy ladder or step stool 
  • An old pillowcase
  • 2 microfiber cloths
  • Spray bottle filled with a 1:1 ratio of white vinegar and water

Step 1: Wipe the Blades With a Pillowcase

Lightly spritz the inside of the old pillowcase with the DIY cleaning solution. Then carefully step up on your ladder or step stool so you can reach the fan—which should be off, of course—and insert one blade into the pillowcase at a time. Close the pillowcase around each blade and pull toward you to carefully wipe down the surface, allowing the dust to collect inside. When you’re finished, take the pillowcase outside, turn it inside out, and shake out the dust. Then launder as usual. 

Step 2: Spray Each Blade With the Vinegar-and-Water Mixture

Grab the spray bottle again, as well as a microfiber cloth. Generously spray your cleaning solution on each of the blades and wipe down any remaining grime with the cloth. “Don’t forget to clean all sides of the blade, including the top, sides, and bottom,” says Laugen.

Step 3: Tackle the Light Fixture, If There Is One

First,ensure the fan’s light has been off for at least an hour (no one wants a bulb burn!). If the fixture includes a glass shade or globe, carefully unscrew it and wash in warm, soapy water. While you let it dry, gently wipe off the lightbulb(s) with a dry microfiber cloth. Screw the shade back on. 

Step 4: Wipe Down the Little Bits

Now it’s time to focus on the details. Give your microfiber cloth a spritz of the vinegar mixture and then swipe it over the pull chain, motor, and ceiling mount.