Why Do I Need to Clean My Radiator?

You might think that you should only clean your radiator for cosmetic purposes; to ensure that your radiators look in tip-top condition for when you have visitors over. However, it’s actually more important to keep your radiators clean because the build up of dust can circulate around your home and cause respiratory irritation.

Whenever your radiators heat up, the hot air picks up and circulates dust particulates that have accumulated on the radiator. Therefore, it’s particularly important for people who suffer with breathing problems such as asthma or COPD to have their radiators cleaned regularly. Plus, it’s also an important step to keep your radiators running efficiently as dust and particulates can reduce the heat transfer and convection current efficiency.

Cleaning your radiators is also an important step if you are thinking of painting your radiators for a new stylish look and feel. So if you’re looking for the best guide to get your radiators looking brand-spanking new again, you’ve come to the right place.

How easy is it?

It is ‘oh so easy’ to clean your radiators! With the right tools, and a little elbow grease we’ll have your radiators looking spotless in no time at all. You really don’t need to have any DIY experience to clean your radiators so just follow along and you should have no problems at all.

How long does it take?

Typically, it shouldn’t take any longer than 10-15 minutes to clean a radiator. However, this does depend on the size and type of radiator. For example, a fairly new vertical designer radiator will be much easier and faster to clean than a 30 year old cast iron radiator with lots of tricky cervices, nooks and crannies. 

What Tools Do I Need To Clean My Radiator?

You shouldn’t need any specialist tools, you can clean most radiators with the following tools:

  • A vacuum cleaner
  • A microfibre cloth
  • A bucket of soapy water
  • A scrubbing sponge or cloth
  • A long stick or metre ruler (Yardstick)
  • A hairdryer (optional)
  • A dust sheet (optional)

The Best Way To Clean Your Radiators

Simply follow the steps below and you’ll have lovely dust-free, squeaky clean radiators in no time! We’ve tried many methods ourselves and these are the best, quickest and most efficient steps that you can follow to clean your radiators at home:

Steps to clean your radiator (inside and out!):

  1. Turn the central heating system off and allow time to cool
  2. Use a vacuum to suck up any surface dust
  3. Use a long stick and microfibre cloth
  4. Use a hairdryer to blow away excess dust
  5. Use soapy water to clean the outside

Step One – Turn The Heating Off

In order to remove the radiator, you’ll first need to switch your heating off so that you don’t scold yourself with the hot water as it is drained into your bucket. Simply turn down the thermostat to zero or switch your boiler off completely.

turn off central heating at the boiler edited

Step Two – Use a Vacuum to suck up the dust

The aim with your vacuum is to make sure you can gather as much dust and cobwebs from the top and behind the radiator. You might even be able to reach some of the dust from the inside of the radiator but this will depend on the type of attachments you have available with your vacuum cleaner. Don’t worry if you can’t reach inside the radiator yet though – this is coming next!

vacuum radiator clean

Step Three – Use a long stick and microfibre cloth

Whilst you can use an extended radiator brushing tool, you might find that it’s much easier (and cheaper!) to create your very own dusting tool to reach the inside of the radiator fins. All you need to do is attach a microfibre cloth to the end of a long thin stick such as a Metre ruler and push it down into the inside of the radiator, being careful not to damage the structure but using speed and force to dislodge all dust particulates.

long stick for cleaning edited

You can also use a towel, dust sheet or cloth underneath the radiator in order to catch any stray dust or cobwebs that fall out of the bottom.

Step Four – Use a hairdryer to blow away excess dust

You may find that you can remove all of the dirt and dust by simply using the steps above. However, if you’re finding that there is still a significant amount of dust inside the radiator, you can try using a hairdryer on its highest setting to blow any of the remaining dust out of the bottom of the radiator.

The long stick and microfibre cloth should have helped to dislodge most of the obstruction so the air should simply blow it straight out.


Step Five – Use soapy water to clean the outside

Now to clean the outside of your radiator! Use some washing up liquid mixed into warm water to create a small bucket of soapy water. Using your soapy sponge, simply squeeze out any excess water before wiping down the outside of the radiator and scrubbing away any grease, dirty marks or remaining dust that has accumulated on the outer frame of the unit.

soapy water in bucket with sponge

How to Clean Radiator Fins

The best and easiest way to clean your radiator fins is to use an extended radiator brush tool which fits down the gaps at the top of the radiator so that you can reach and clean the inside fins. However, if you don’t own one then you can just use a Metre ruler with a microfibre cloth attached to the end of it.

How to Clean Behind Radiators

The best way to clean behind your radiators is to either use an extended duster brushing tool which allows you to reach all the way down the back of the radiator. Or, if you don’t own one of these tools you can always remove the radiator by pivoting it forwards at it’s valves to get behind it easily.

How to Clean Inside a Radiator

To clean inside of the radiator, you may need to use a hairdryer, extended duster tool or even a Metre ruler with a microfibre cloth attached to the end which then inserts down into the inside of the radiator from above. 

How To Clean Cast Iron Radiators

Cast iron radiators can be cleaned in much the same way as a standard white convection radiator. However, you may need to be extra vigilant in order to find all of the various gaps in which dust and cobwebs can accumulate. You may also need to use a stronger cleaning substance than just soapy water for those stubborn stains and dirt.

How often should I clean my radiators?

This is purely subjective, for some people you may wish to clean your radiators every 2-3 weeks. However, for most households you’ll only need to clean your radiators once or twice a year. For people living with respiratory conditions, you should clean the radiators even more frequently to avoid airborne dust aggravating their breathing. 

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