We don’t need to talk about why smoke detectors are important. However, did you know you need to clean your smoke detector for it to work properly? Well, it’s true. Find out about this important chore below.


How to Clean a Smoke Detector


Beeping: What is Your Alarm Trying to Tell You?

Maybe you remembered your smoke alarm because it just started beeping at you.  You shouldn’t wait for your smoke alarm to beep to give it the attention it needs, but it happens. Beeping indicates one of several problems that needs to be addressed immediately for the safety of your home. Here are the possibilities:

  • The smoke alarm has become too dirty.
  • The batteries need replacing.
  • Your alarm is old. Most smoke alarms last 8-10 years. If you check the date of manufacture on the back of a beeping alarm and it’s more than 8 years old, it’s time for a new one.

Learn more about cleaning this appliance below.


Why a Smoke Detector Needs to Be Clean

There are critical sensors inside the smoke detector that need to be clean to operate effectively. A clean sensor can accurately respond to environment changes in the home. Many things can get inside a smoke detector—dust, pet dander, pollen—build up on the sensor, and block it from the environment it is trying to analyze. When your smoke detector is not running properly, this of course poses a threat to your family.


How to Clean

Grab a step ladder and place it on a flat surface under the smoke detector. Remove the smoke detector from the wall and open the unit. Use a vacuum cleaner attachment to vacuum the unit. To clean the housing, wipe it down with a damp cloth. Use a toothpick or cotton swab to clean the vents. After the unit has been cleaned, put it back together and press the test button to make sure it’s still working. Replace the smoke detector on the ceiling.


How Often to Clean

A smoke detector should be cleaned and have its batteries replaced every six months. Do a walk-through of your home and thoroughly clean all the smoke alarms and replace their batteries. After replacing the batteries, remember to test the smoke alarm to make sure it’s running properly.

Think changing your batteries every 6 months is excessive? Many batteries will last longer than that in a smoke detector, but you want to be cautious with a tool that could save your family. If you think the batteries you’re taking out still have some juice in them, save them and use them in appliances that aren’t life-and-death.

Proper smoke detector maintenance is very important to keep a home safe. We recommend adding your smoke detector walk-through to a calendar so you don’t forget.