In many parts of the country people are finally pulling the last fan from their windows and contemplating turning on the heat. By cleaning your fans now you'll save yourself an extra step in the Spring and help them last a little longer. It's pretty easy to do, but probably contains one step you haven't thought of before!
What You Need
1 box fan
2 soft line free cloths
1 bowl of half water, half white vinegar
1 paper grocery bag or plastic trash bag
adhesive tape or twine/cord
1. Unplug Fan:
Although it goes without saying, you can never be too careful. Unplug your fan and set it on a waist height work surface. If you have a work bench in the garage, this is a great place. If your kitchen table is all you have to work with, that's fine too, though we might suggest covering it with a piece of newspaper if you're concerned at all.
2. Remove Outer Covers:
Usually these plastic covers are held on by small screws on each side. Remove front and back both.
3. Clean Covers:
There are three methods in which to clean these covers.
a) Bathtub: If you have a bathtub, simply plug the drain and save the end of your shower water in the tub. You can then soak them and spray them down to rinse when done.
b) Hose: If you have access to an outdoor hose, you can spray them first with a little vinegar (or cleaner of your choice) and then hose them off and the dirt will rinse right off.
c) By Hand: Though slightly trickier you can clean these piece by hand. Spray with vinegar and water, then wipe clean with a towel. It's easiest if you use the corner of a towel to thread into the small holes. You can also rinse them in your kitchen sink, though it might take a little practice to keep the majority of the water in the sink.
Spray your second clean cloth with vinegar and water (or rinse and wring out the first one) and wipe down blades. Avoid spraying the mixture directly on the blades. Note: For some fans, you can twist off a cap that holds the blades on, allowing you to fully remove them for easier cleaning.
5. Wipe Down:
Give the outside of the fan and the cord (which gets disturbingly dirty) a wipe down, making sure to check under the handle (if it has one) and knobs for residual dirt.
Reassemble your covers with the screws that were removed previously.
7. Cut To Cover:
For this step you can use either a brown paper bag or trash bag. A stray plastic retail bag will work if you have one floating around, or you can use cardboard. Cut out a shape that fits over each side of the covers to block out dirt. Tape into place (or tie a thin cord around it like a package to keep it in place). In the case of a bag, if it fits inside of it, just slide it in and tie it off.
By covering your box fan for the season you'll keep out all the dust that usually gathers in storage (wherever that may be) which gets blown back in your face in the Spring! If you have multiple fans, consider keeping them stored in a large tote with a lid. It makes them easier to handle, move around and store.
Related: How To: Clean an Oscillating Round Fan
(Images: Sarah Rae Trover)