CLEAN: Excel Formulae Explained

The CLEAN function in Excel is a powerful tool that can help you manage and organize your data more effectively. This function is designed to remove non-printable characters from text, making it easier to work with and analyze. Whether you're dealing with imported data that contains hidden characters or you're trying to clean up your own data sets, the CLEAN function can be a lifesaver.

Understanding the CLEAN Function

The CLEAN function in Excel is categorized under Text Functions. The purpose of this function is to clean the text by removing the first 32 non-printable characters in the 7-bit ASCII code (values 0 through 31) from text. In the Unicode character set, there are additional non-printable characters (values 127, 129, 141, 143, 144, and 157). If you need to remove these characters, the CLEAN function does not suffice.

It's important to note that the CLEAN function was primarily designed to remove some of the non-printable characters that can cause problems when importing text data from other applications or data sources. However, it can also be used to clean up data that you've entered manually.

How the CLEAN Function Works

The CLEAN function is quite straightforward. It takes just one argument: the text you want to clean. The syntax of the function is as follows: CLEAN(text).

The "text" argument can be either a string of text enclosed in quotation marks or a cell reference that points to the text you want to clean. Once you've entered your argument, the CLEAN function will return the cleaned text, with all non-printable characters removed.

Using the CLEAN Function

Now that we understand what the CLEAN function does and how it works, let's look at how to use it in practice. The following steps will guide you through the process of using the CLEAN function in Excel.

First, open your Excel spreadsheet and locate the cell that contains the text you want to clean. Click on an empty cell where you want the cleaned text to appear. Next, type "=CLEAN(" (without the quotation marks) into the cell. Click on the cell that contains the text you want to clean, then type a closing parenthesis ")" and press Enter. Excel will display the cleaned text in the cell where you entered the formula.

Example of Using the CLEAN Function

Let's say you have a cell that contains the text "Hello World!" with a non-printable character at the beginning. To remove this non-printable character, you would use the CLEAN function as follows: =CLEAN(A1), where A1 is the cell that contains the text. After pressing Enter, Excel will display the cleaned text "Hello World!" in the cell where you entered the formula.

It's important to note that the CLEAN function only removes the first 32 non-printable characters in the 7-bit ASCII code. If your text contains other non-printable characters, you may need to use additional functions or techniques to remove them.

Additional Techniques for Cleaning Text

While the CLEAN function is a powerful tool for removing non-printable characters from text, it's not the only tool at your disposal. There are several other functions and techniques you can use to clean your text in Excel.

One such function is the TRIM function, which removes extra spaces from text. This can be particularly useful if you're dealing with text that has been imported from another application and contains irregular spacing. The syntax for the TRIM function is similar to that of the CLEAN function: TRIM(text).

Combining the CLEAN and TRIM Functions

In some cases, you may want to use the CLEAN and TRIM functions together to clean your text. This can be done by nesting the TRIM function inside the CLEAN function, or vice versa. The syntax for this would be: CLEAN(TRIM(text)) or TRIM(CLEAN(text)).

By combining these two functions, you can remove both non-printable characters and extra spaces from your text, making it even easier to work with and analyze.

Conclusion

The CLEAN function in Excel is a powerful tool for managing and organizing your data. By understanding how this function works and how to use it, you can save yourself a great deal of time and effort when dealing with text data. Whether you're cleaning up imported data or your own data sets, the CLEAN function can be a valuable addition to your Excel toolkit.

Remember, the CLEAN function is just one of many text functions available in Excel. By familiarizing yourself with these functions, you can take full advantage of Excel's capabilities and make your data analysis tasks easier and more efficient.

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