A guide on how best to clean and store fans and air conditioners.

Clean and Store Fans

In winter, electric fans aren’t likely to be needed. Unless you use them for heating purposes, portable air conditioners and window air con units may also simply be in the way.


We offer a straightforward guide on how to clean and store fans and air cons so that they’ll be in tip-top shape when you need them again next summer.


Prepping a window air conditioner for storage   


window air conditioner

Storing a window air conditioner that’s clean, dry and dust-free extends its operational life span.


Step 1 – remove the air con

Ahead of removing the unit from the window, spread a few old bath towels on the floor to absorb any leaks. Unplug the appliance, and tilt it slowly out of the window to drain excess water.


With the help of a friend, remove the unit, take it outside, and place it on a flat area of lawn or paving.


Step 2 – sanitise the air filter

Slide the air filter out of its frame and pop it into a sink of hot soapy water. Use a long-handled brush to lift ingrained dirt and grime, and rinse the filter under the tap. Drain the dirty water, and fill the sink with clean hot water.


Add a cup of white wine vinegar, and soak the filter in the solution for at least an hour. Rinse the filter again, and allow it to dry in the sun or on a drying rack.


Step 3 – clean the condenser coils

Detach and remove the front cover of the air conditioner. Using a hose pipe, spray the interior with cold water, paying close attention to the condenser coils and the water tray.


Loosen any dirt and grime with the brush, and rinse out the casing with the water spray. Allow the unit to air dry.


Step 4 – wipe down the exterior

Wipe down the exterior of the air con with hot soapy water. Use the hose to rinse it clean… and voilà, job done.


Portable air con cleaning tips 


portable air conditioner

To clean a portable air conditioner before storing it, follow these steps:

  • remove all the accessories – the exhaust hose, window slider, seal plate, pipe connector, drainage tube and filter
  • place the components into warm soapy water, and use a cloth or soft bristle brush to remove any stubborn dirt
  • rinse each item under clean running water
  • hang the pipes over a washing line to drain and dry, and leave the rest of the components on a drying rack
  • wipe down the exterior of the appliance with a damp cloth.

How to store an air conditioner   


store air conditioner

The best way to store an air conditioner is in its original packaging. Before placing the unit in its box, though, it’s a good idea to loosely coil the power cord and tape it to side of the unit.


If the original packaging is no longer available, cover the appliance with an old sheet or blanket to protect it from moisture and dust.


Place removable accessories in a separate, clearly labelled container, for storage close to, or on top, of the air conditioner.


Cleaning and storing oscillating fans


oscillating fans

Oscillating fans are magnets for dirt and grime. Over time, the protective grilles and blades tend to become coated in lint and fine dust.


To clean an electric fan,

  • first ensure that the fan is unplugged
  • vacuum the grill of the fan using a brush attachment; move from top to bottom
  • dismantle the fan, removing the grilles and blades (for some grilles, just unclip the tabs; for others, you may need to remove screws)
  • wipe down the stand and other components with a soft cloth and warm soapy water
  • use a cotton ear bud to clean difficult-to-reach places on the grilles and around the motor
  • dry thoroughly to prevent rust and mould growth.


The best tip for storing an electric fan is to place the dismantled fan back in its original box. Ensure the box is sealed and labelled. If possible, store a fan off the ground – for example, on a plank, pallet or table – to protect it from damp and mould.


If you no longer have the fan’s original box, wrap the fan in a towel or other fabric. This will help protect it from moisture.


Then place a plastic bag over the head of the fan, and tie it in place using a piece of string or adhesive tape.


How to clean ceiling fans


ceiling fans

The blades of ceiling fans – especially their upper sides – are out of our usual line of sight. So by the time you get around to cleaning ceiling fans, the blades may be very grimy and sticky indeed.

If the fan blades are very dusty and cobwebby, start by standing on a stepladder or secure chair and brushing each one off with a dustpan brush. It’s a good idea to wear goggles and old clothes when you do this.


Another trick is to slip an old pillowcase over an individual blade. Then apply pressure, wiping down the blade, as you pull the pillowcase off. Repeat for each blade. This will keep dust and cobwebs from raining down on you and the room.


Next, spray or wipe down with a household cleaner, or a solution of one-part vinegar to three-parts water. A mild bleach solution works wonders too, but could discolour fan blades – so proceed with caution. Generally, don’t try bleach unless the fan blades are white.


Wipe off with a clean, damp rag. Then turn the fan on so the blades dry quickly.


Finally, it’s a good idea to spray compressed air into and around the motor housing, to remove accumulated dust.


Self-storage for appliances  

Instead of taking up valuable space or adding to the clutter at home (or in the office), consider storing appliances like fans and portable air cons in a self-storage unit.


At XtraSpace, we offer clean, secure self-storage units that are ideal for storing appliances, for short or longer periods. Contact us for more information or browse to find a branch near you, in Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal or the Western Cape.

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