Regardless of the type of smoke detector you have, it is critical that their sensors be clean so that they can properly respond to changes in the environment in your home. Over time, dust, pollen, pet dander, cooking vapors, smoke, etc. from the air in your home can begin to build up on the sensors in your smoke detectors. This build-up that forms over your sensors acts as an insulator which reduces the performance of these sensors (helpful accessory: dust wipes).
To make sure that your smoke detectors react properly in an emergency, it is critical that they be properly cleaned out.
Once every six months, we recommend that you clean your smoke detectors. Cleaning your smoke detectors involves two activities: 1) vacuuming out the unit; and 2) wiping down the outside vents.
To vacuum out the unit, you should follow your manufacturer’s recommendations for routine cleanings. Typically this will involve removing the face of the unit and then using a soft brush attachment for your vacuum cleaner to gently brush and vacuum the inside of your smoke detector (see types, costs, and reviews of vacuum cleaners).
In addition to vacuuming the inside of your smoke detector, you should also use a clean wipe and mild detergent to remove build-up from the outside of your unit. In particular, you will want to clean the vent openings, to ensure that airflow is not obstructed to the sensor inside the unit.
If you are not sure how to clean your smoke detector, you should at least vacuum the outside of the unit, which will draw air through the vents in the face of the unit.