How to clean your aircon and fans – the easy way!

How to clean your aircon and fans – the easy way!

With the endlessly hot weather in Singapore, air conditioning and fans have become essential pieces of equipment for most of us (especially when we’re trying to get a good night’s sleep in the heat). Whether you have a ceiling fan, several standing fans, or the most up-to-date aircon there is, one thing is for sure: they all need to be cleaned.

Although this is one of the jobs that we put off again and again, it’s one that is really important. Your air will be cleaner, less polluted, and your equipment will maintain its standard of efficiency, all from just a simple cleaning. 

And the job needn’t be difficult! We’ve broken down the process into super simple steps that won’t take you the whole day to complete. So read on to find out how to clean your aircon and your dusty fans, whilst keeping your cool.

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How to clean the aircon

Aircon cleaning seems like a daunting task, but it’s actually pretty simple. This chore becomes even less daunting when you realise that it could save you money in the long run. A clean air conditioning unit uses less power to cool your home than a dirty one, as well as reducing pollutants in the air. Save money and your health all with a little cleaning. 

We’ve split the cleaning process into 4 easy steps, because you know what they say: divide and conquer.

1. Turn off your aircon unit and unplug it from the mains.

2. Clean the main body of the unit inside and out:

  •  If you have a split unit, which nowadays is the most common model, lift the lid and carefully remove the filter. Wipe away the dust inside with a dry cloth, then clean with some soapy water. You can use a dry brush to clean the outer grate. Leave everything to dry before putting it back.
  • If you have an aircon attached to the window, remove the cover and wipe it with a damp cloth. Use a brush to remove any dust inside the unit. You can also take this opportunity to clean the window behind the air conditioning unit. Be sure to wait until the glass is completely dry before you put it back.

3. Remove the filters and clean them under running water. You can also vacuum them to remove debris. After cleaning, make sure they’re completely dry before putting them back into the unit.

Aircon filters remove particles from the air to make it cleaner – if they’re dirty they filter out fewer particles, causing polluted air and odours. To avoid this, it’s best to clean them once or twice a month.

4. Brush away dust on the air conditioner coils with a stiff brush, then cover any electric wires or moving parts with plastic. Use a spray bottle to clean off any dirt trapped in the coils. You can simply use water, but if there’s a lot of dirt try using  some foaming cleaner (biodegradable is best) mixed with water. Let the solution sit for 10-15 minutes, and the dirt should be real easy to remove. Repeat if necessary.

Extend the life of your unit by cleaning your air conditioner thoroughly once a year, and your filters once or twice a month. Not only will this prolong your aircon’s life, but it will also save you money on your utility bills – a clean aircon is an efficient aircon.

Better for your wallet and better for the environment, win/win.

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How to clean ceiling fans

If you don’t have aircon, or simply want to save a few bucks by switching your ceiling fan on instead, they still need some care and attention when it comes to cleaning. Dust and dirt accumulate on the fan’s blades, and this is then blown throughout your home. This can make your allergies worse, not to mention the unpleasant idea of breathing in a few months’ worth of dust. This is especially true during the dreaded haze; when your whole home will require more cleaning than usual.  

Cleaning the ceiling fan and its blades is a really simple task, but one that must be done carefully. You’ll need to stand on a ladder to reach the fan, so make sure you have someone to steady the ladder and catch you if you fall!

Our cleaning method means that you won’t end up with the dust from your fan blades all over your home. All you need is a pillowcase (yes, really!) and a damp cloth.

1. Stand your ladder under the ceiling fan, and climb it until you can comfortably reach above one of the blades.

2. Now you’ll need the pillowcase (ask the person steadying the ladder to pass it to you once you’ve climbed up). Place the pillowcase around the blade, as though the fan blade is a pillow that you’re putting inside it. Once it’s around the entire blade, pull the pillowcase back, wiping the dust from the top of the fan into the pillowcase.

3. Turn the fan manually, and repeat on each blade.

4. Use the damp cloth to wipe any remaining dust off each blade now that the majority of the dust is gone. Using a damp cloth for this means the dirt will stick to it rather than be spread around the room.

5. Now you have a dust-free fan! To deal with the dirty pillowcase, simply shake it into an outdoor bin, then wash inside-out in the washing machine. You’ll be left with a clean pillowcase and a clean ceiling fan.

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How to clean standing fans

Another cheaper and greener alternative to aircon is an electric, portable floor fan. These can be moved from room to room and some even have a dehumidifying setting. Just like the ceiling fan, dust and dirt builds up on the blades leading to a larger presence of allergens in the air, so these fan blades should be cleaned every few weeks.

1. Make sure the fan is unplugged before you start, to avoid any nasty shocks (literally!). Move the fan to a hard floor that can be wiped easily. You can also place a sheet or bin bag underneath it to protect the floor even more.

2. Take the sections of the fan apart to clean them thoroughly. Remove the case carefully – there are usually buttons either side that you can push to release the casing, levers, or a screw that holds the two halves together.

3. Once the casing is removed, wipe your fan over with a cloth dipped soapy water. To be even more environmentally friendly, you could use a solution of water and lemon or water and vinegar for this, too.

4. Remove the blades and place them in a bucket or container of soapy water (again, lemon juice or vinegar mixed with water would also work). Leave these to soak for a few minutes. Then remove from the bucket, rinse well with some clean water, and dry the fan blades fully before putting them back into the fan. 

5. Clean the stand and base with a soft, damp cloth to remove any dust and dirt. Remember to let the reassembled fan stand for a while to ensure it’s completely dry before you switch it back on.

If you can’t dismantle your fan (or you simply don’t want to), you can use a vacuum cleaner with a narrow nozzle to reach the tight corners where the dust builds up. This won’t clean your fan as thoroughly, but does guarantee you’ll avoid any “where does this bit go again?” moments.

Use these tips to clean your fans and aircon and get clean, fresh air into your home, as well as extending the life of your equipment and saving a few dollars at the same time!

Do you have any extra tips for cleaning your air conditioner or fans? We’d love to hear them in the comments!

British Natalie lives in Berlin, but is a Parisian at heart. Her love of all things clean and organised means she's always got a useful tip or two up her sleeve.