How to clean a bathroom extractor fan: Say goodbye to grime for good

Open bathroom extractor fan on blue mosaic tiles
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Dust, dirt and grime are enemies of a fan, so learning how to clean a bathroom extractor fan is essential for a healthy and hygienic environment. Leave it and it will become ineffective and pointless. It will slow down, struggle to remove moisture from the air, encourage mould to grow and eventually break down.

Investing in one of the best bathroom extractor fans, means investing a little time to keep it clean and running at its optimum. Here we give you the lowdown on how to keep your extractor fan dirt and dust-free. 

How to clean a bathroom extractor fan: what to do before you start

There are a couple of things you will need to do before you start cleaning a bathroom extractor fan. The first and more important thing is to turn off the power. When working with electricity make sure you isolate whatever you are working on.

Next lay down sheets to catch any dust and debris. However, if you are in the middle of renovating a bathroom then you can forget about putting down the sheets.  

Four steps to clean a bathroom extractor fan 

Bathroom extractor fans vary from brand to brand but the basic principles on how to clean them are still the same. But, if unsure, consult the manufacturer's instructions. 

You'll also need some basic items to prep the area and tools to hand, including:

  • Screwdriver 
  • Protective sheets 
  • Kitchen sponge/scourer 
  • Washing up liquid 
  • Toothbrush 
  • Step ladder

1. Remove extractor fan cover 

A bathroom extractor fan is typically held in place with a couple of integrated clips or a screw or two. For screws get a suitable screwdriver, remove the screws and set aside somewhere safe, such as a small bowl.

Once removed, place the extractor fan cover in a bowl of warm soapy water and leave to soak for a couple of minutes. Then get a kitchen scourer and gently clean the cover and leave on the side to dry out thoroughly.

2. Detach fan 

Removing the fan cover typically reveals the fan component of the extractor. Some are covered with a filter to collect dust. If this is the case with yours, remove and clean.

Most fan filters can be removed by gently pulling off. Once removed, soak in warm water, clean and leave to dry.  

3. Dust and clean 

With the fan removed you can now get access to the inside of the extractor fan. Start by giving the inside a once over with a soft hand brush. To get into more difficult areas use an old toothbrush.

Once you have removed as much dust and fluff as possible, get some warm soapy water and carefully clean down with a kitchen sponge/scourer and leave to dry. 

4. Replace everything 

When all the components are clean and dry replace them back in the extractor fan. Ensure that the cover is replaced correctly and securely. Now switch on the electricity and give the fan a test run.  

Removing the grate from an exhaust fan in the bathroom

Once you have cleaned all the components of an extractor fan leave them to dry before replacing (Image credit: Getty Images)

How do you remove grease from a bathroom extractor fan? 

A solution of warm water and washing up liquid used in combination with a kitchen sponge/scourer should be perfectly adequate to get rid of grease. 

However, if you have more stubborn grease, you will need to invest in a mild detergent like sugar soap. Not sure what it is? Then check out our what is sugar soap guide on how to use it. 

How often should you clean a bathroom extractor fan? 

Typically, you should clean your extractor fans every six to 12 months. However, you can clean it more regularly by giving it a quick hoover or brush down to remove dust, which will help prevent the build up of dirt, grime and grease. This will extend the time when you need to give it a thorough clean. 

Check out our bathroom ventilation guide for tips on keeping the air moisture-free. 

Why is it a good idea to clean a bathroom extractor fan? 

There are a number of good reasons why you should clean your bathroom extractor fan regularly. It will help maintain a quiet and efficient extractor which in turn will prolong the life of the fan, meaning that you won’t need to replace it for years.

Another plus of keeping a bathroom extractor fan in good working order is the room benefits. Keeping moisture out of the air will lessen the chances of mould growing in the bathroom. 

If you do spot mould you might need to replace your bathroom extractor fan and then think about painting over mould to restore your bathroom back to its original state.  

Steve Jenkins

Steve is Homebuilding & Renovating's DIY content editor, and has been a writer and editor for two decades. He is an avid DIYer with over 20 years of experience in transforming and renovating homes. He specialises in painting and decorating, but has strong all-round building skills, having previously worked in the industry for 10 years.