How to Clean a Bathroom Exhaust Vent Fan

Bathroom exhaust vent fan on ceiling.

Bathroom exhaust vent fans need to be cleaned regularly.

It’s very important to have an exhaust fan that’s vented to the outside in every bathroom in your home, and to run it whenever you shower or bathe and for 15-20 minutes afterward to remove excess moisture that can cause mold and mildew to form.

An average sized bathroom vent fan that’s used one hour a day will exhaust over 2,000,000 cubic feet of air a year, or the equivalent of the air inside 1,000 homes.

As air is drawn through the fan, dust builds up on the grill cover and the fan motor over time. Cleaning the cover and motor housing every six months to one year will remove most of the accumulated dust. Here’s how to clean your vent fan.

To clean a bathroom vent fan:

  1. Turn the fan off at the switch or circuit breaker.
Pressing the spring clips together to remove vent fan cover.

Press spring clips together to remove vent fan cover.

  1. Remove the cover by pulling down until the cover is several inches from the ceiling. Press the spring-loaded wire clips, found on two sides of the cover, together then remove the clips from the slots in the fan housing.
Using a dusting brush on a vacuum to  clean vent fan cover.

Use a dusting brush on a vacuum to clean vent fan cover.

  1. Place the fan cover on a towel and use a vacuum cleaner equipped with a bristle brush dusting attachment to clean the cover and grille thoroughly both inside and out.
Cleaning the vent fan motor with vacuum attachment.

Cleaning the vent fan motor with vacuum attachment.

  1. Use the dusting attachment on the vacuum to clean inside the fan housing and around the motor. For hard to reach spots, use a crevice tool on the vacuum.
  2. Reinstall the fan cover by press the clips on the fan cover together, and slip them over the slots in the fan housing. Finally, push the fan cover up until it seats against the ceiling.

Further Information

Danny Lipford is among the country’s most sought-after home improvement experts.
The seasoned remodeling contractor and media personality served as the home improvement expert for CBS’s “The Early Show” and The Weather Channel for over a decade and has made more than 180 national television appearances on “Fox & Friends,” “Inside Edition,” “Morning Express with Robin Meade,” Fox Business Channel, Rachael Ray and more.
He travels the country making appearances as a brand ambassador and spokesperson, and each year contributes expertise to hundreds of popular magazines and online media outlets.

Chelsea Lipford Wolf is a born-and-raised home enthusiast, adding her crafty skills and passion for DIY as co-host of the top-rated, nationally syndicated “Today’s Homeowner” TV show.

In addition, Chelsea maintains her own home lifestyle and décor blog and award-winning web-series, “Checking in with Chelsea.”

WATCH THE SHOW: Don’t miss “Today’s Homeowner,” which airs each week on television nationwide. Check your local listings for time and channel.

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10 Comments on “How to Clean a Bathroom Exhaust Vent Fan”

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  • Official Comment:

    Thomas Boni Says:
    June 27th, 2018 at 11:00 am

    Hi, Jenny,

    We are so happy to hear that you enjoy “Today’s Homeowner!”
    If you haven’t already, please…

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  • Jenny Says:
    June 20th, 2018 at 11:23 pm

    The program teach us a lot of things. Thanks

  • Official Comment:

    Thomas Boni Says:
    August 25th, 2018 at 6:33 pm

    Hi, Diane!
    Here’s the answer to your question:
    Take care.

  • Diane Salido Says:
    March 9th, 2018 at 12:46 pm

    We live in a condo…our bathroom vent is downstairs….how do we clean the entire duct…its blowing down black dust!!!

  • Jan Says:
    December 7th, 2017 at 6:33 pm

    Does it need to be unplugged first before vacuuming or can you simply vacuum around it? Nothing wet, of course.

  • Arlene Says:
    March 24th, 2016 at 9:59 pm

    Use a toothbrush and/or a small paint brush.
    Dust and vacuum……..

  • Bleach Queen Says:
    March 14th, 2016 at 9:04 pm

    My bathroom fan has a metal housing and I can see inside that the blades have caked on layers of dust and grime but I can’t fit any attachment in there nor my hands (I have pretty small hands too.)to clean it. Even if I could I would need something to either dissolve the grime or scrape it of. I put the fan cover in the dishwasher and it looks brand new but I have no idea how to clean the actual fan blades. I guess I will search the internet on how to remove the fan to clean it.

  • Paul Says:
    October 28th, 2015 at 8:19 pm


    Should the duct from a bathroom exhaust vent ever be cleaned or is that not necessary?

  • N Gaines Says:
    October 6th, 2015 at 9:33 pm

    excellent information! Thank you!! Mrs. G.

  • aplus Says:
    January 29th, 2015 at 1:25 am

    Wow thanks for sharing this.

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How to Clean a Bathroom Exhaust Vent Fan