How to Clean Bathroom Air Duct? Read this First!

An exhaust fan is perhaps the most underappreciated appliance we use in our households. On the face of it, the duty of an exhaust fan seems quite simple. It takes out the humid air and odor and replaces it with fresh air. 

In doing so, the air vents would get gradually clogged up. So, you should know how to clean bathroom air duct. 

You can clean bathroom air duct by vacuuming and brushing it. The tools you’ll need will typically include a cleaning brush, surface cleaner, Phillips screwdriver, and a vacuum cleaner. 

If you have read our cleaning tutorials on the bathroom ceiling fan and bathroom exhaust fans with lights, you should be familiar with most of the steps we will discuss below. But, we will revisit them so that you can get a clearer picture of how to clean bathroom exhaust duct. 

Things You Will Need

  • A vacuum cleaner
  • A Phillips screwdriver
  • Dry cloth
  • Cleaning brush
  • Blower
  • Surface cleaner

How To Clean Bathroom Air Duct?

How to Clean Bathroom Air Duct

Step 1. Cut Off Power Supply

How to clean bathroom exhaust fan duct? The first step you have to take is to unplug the fan from the power outlet. A safer course of action would be to turn off the circuit breaker to the bathroom.  Locate the breaker box, find the lever next to the bathroom sign, and turn it off.

How to clean bathroom vent duct in a house with fuses? An older house might have fuses instead of circuit breakers. In that case, locate the fuse box and check for the bathroom fuse. Once you find it, unscrew and remove it.

Step 2. Remove External Panel

 Now, it’s time to focus on the exhaust fan. Pull the outer cover towards you as you gently press on the clamps that are holding it to the fan housing. It should come off easily. Remember not to rush while doing this. The outer cover is usually made of plastic. So, if you apply too much pressure, it will break.

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After taking the external cover out, wipe it with a dry cloth. You can use a surface cleaner like Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day Multi-Surface Cleaner Spray for a shinier and more hygienic clean. Or, you can dip it in soap water and rinse it with lukewarm water afterward.

Step 3. Vacuum Inside The Fan

Once the cover is out, you will see the fan and the motor. Take a vacuum cleaner, something similar to the ranks of Vacmaster VQ607SFD, and clean the interior.

Step 4. Remove The Fan

How to clean out bathroom exhaust fan duct? You can’t get to the vent unless you remove the fan. So, grab a flathead screwdriver and unscrew the fan. Be careful as you bring out the fan. The blades are lightweight for faster rotatability. However, this design attribute also makes them highly susceptible to damage.

Therefore, the fan might not survive if you accidentally drop it on the floor.

We advise against using water and soap to clean the fan unless it’s absolutely necessary. Exposing the fan motor to water increases the risk of short-circuiting. So, stick to using surface cleaner, dry cloth, and vacuum. If you do use water, make sure the fan has 100% dried off before you put it back on. Use a hair-dryer to eradicate the moisture.

Step 5. Clean The Internal Vent

Now we get to the business part of our how to clean bathroom air duct article. The exhaust pipe channels the air in and out of the bathroom. As you can imagine, it gets high exposure to dust and moisture, so it eventually blocks up.

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You can try using the vacuum to bring out the dust. For getting better access inside the exhaust pipe, you can try using this special attachment tool from Cen-Tec Systems. Another option you can consider instead of vacuuming is using a leaf blower. Using a blower, you can force out the clog with a blast of wind. 

Step 6. Clean The Outer Vent

After you clean the vent from the inside, you need to clean the external vent. How to clean bathroom fan vent outside the house? Get to the outer portion of the vent and vacuum the dust. Unless there is a bird’s nest or dead animal stuck inside, you don’t have to do much here.

If you see a big obstruction, try to get it out with your hand. If you can’t reach it with your hand, try using a plumber’s snake to draw it out. However, using the plumber’s snake could be tricky if your outer vent is in the sidewalls instead of the roof. For sidewall vents, our suggestion would be to use a stick and try to pull out the clog with it.

Secure the footing of your ladder by tying its lower portion with a tree or a column. Please note, cleaning the external vent does involve a bit of risk. If you don’t feel comfortable doing it, consult a specialist.

Frequently Asked Questions

How To Clean Bathroom Vent Duct With Water? Is It Possible?

Cleaning the air ducts with water would be counterproductive. High moisture exposure damages the air vents over time. By sending a rush of water through the vents, you would be accelerating the damage. 

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Not to mention, it could damage the fan circuitry. So, blowing out the blockage with a hosepipe is strictly off the table.

Should I Install Air Filters? Do I Need To Clean The Ducts If I Use Air Filters?

Using an air filter is a good idea unless it’s too restrictive. A user on this forum discussion has made an excellent point about it. If the air filter is overly restrictive, it might damage the fan and reduce efficiency. An air filter that offers a balanced airflow can keep the vent cleaner and extend its lifespan. 

That said, you would still need to clean the ducts once in a while. Albeit, you would have to do it less often. Some amount of dust and moisture still go through the vents if you have a filter in place. Usually, you should clean the vent once or twice a year. If you have a filter, cleaning once every 18-24 months would suffice. 

Final Say

Constant foggy mirrors in your bathroom might not appear to be a severe problem, but the truth is, such high humidity will make your bathroom a petri dish of germs. Knowing how to clean bathroom air ducts, you can ensure the proper functioning of your bathroom ventilation system and keep the bathroom safe from mold and bacteria infestation.

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