How to Clean Radiators


Carol asked: How do I clean the exterior of radiators in our home? I especially want to get at the dust that accumulates underneath and inside. My vacuum cleaner attachments don’t go that far.

Radiators are constructed in such a way that dust and dirt can become trapped and takes some time to clean it all out. Luckily, the process is simple and it doesn’t require any special equipment. With a little time and effort, your radiators will be looking great and ready to provide heat all winter long.

You Will Need:

  • Dust cloth
  • Towel
  • Soft cloths
  • Water
  • Soap
  • Bucket
  • Sponges
  • Measuring stick or other long stick
  • Wide tape

Steps to Clean the Radiators:

  1. Start by vacuuming as much dust and dirt from around, in and underneath the radiator as possible.
  2. Wrap a dust cloth around the end of a measuring stick, or other long stick.
  3. Secure it with a piece of tape around one end. Be careful when taping not to cover up too much of the cloth.
  4. Spread a towel out and lay it underneath the radiator.
  5. Push the dust cloth on the stick from the top of the radiator to the bottom, pushing the dust and dirt down to the bottom.
  6. Repeat this for each section of the radiator. The towel at the bottom, on the floor, will collect the dust as it comes loose and falls down.
  7. Next, fill a bucket with warm water.
  8. Add a small amount of soap and agitate until suds begin to form.
  9. Moisten a soft cloth with the soapy water and squeeze it out so it is slightly damp.
  10. Wipe down the exterior of the radiator.
  11. Dry with a soft cloth to avoid rusting.
  12. Finally, look at the wall above the radiator. The heat from the radiator can cause dust and dirt to stick to the walls.
  13. Wash these areas with the warm, soapy water.

Additional Tips and Advice

  • Vacuum the radiators frequently to keep dirt and dust from building up.
  • It is best to clean radiators in the summer, when they are not in use.
  • If cleaning them in the winter, ensure they are turned off and have cooled down completely before cleaning.
  • For radiators that are too condensed to push a dust cloth through, compressed air can be used to blow it out.
  • Long circular brushes, similar to those used to clean dryer vents, are useful for cleaning between the grates on radiators.
  • Radiators can be removed for thorough cleanings outdoors, but this is often avoided. Draining, disconnecting and moving the radiator often causes more problems than it’s worth. Often it’s easier to clean it right where it is.


  1. Mary says:

    How do I remove all the old paint off a small radiator to give it a new look? I’ve done it before during the summertime, however, it’s now winter and the steam is mostly on, but I can keep the stem nozzle off to do what I can to remove the pitting paint.
    Thanks, Mary

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