How To Clean A Radiator: 6 Steps To Remove Dust & Grime

How To Clean A Radiator: 6 Steps To Remove Dust & Grime

Are your radiators looking grimy? If it’s been a while since you last cleaned your radiators, you might want to roll up your sleeves and get started. It doesn’t matter how tidy your home is. If these fixtures are dirty, they will bring the entire look of your house down. You might have put this chore off for a while, but it’s easier than you think.

So, how do you clean a radiator? The good news is that this job will take you no longer than 30 minutes. You don’t need to set aside too much time to complete this task and you don't need to know how to remove a radiator. When you have a spare morning, why not give it a go? Within the following guide, we will take a look at six of the ways that you can make them clean.

1. Turn off the heating

First things first, you need to turn off the heating. Before you even attempt to clean your radiators, you should make sure that the heating is switched off. Use this golden rule whether you have electric heating or gas. You’ll be using water and other cleaning products here, so you won’t want to bring any power into the scenario.

Additionally, heat draws dust upward. So, if your radiators are on when you’re cleaning them, you may find that they start to gather more dirt along the way. That will make the cleaning process much harder than it needs to be, so switch it off and save the trouble.

2. Grab the vacuum cleaner

Want to know how to clean between radiator fins? Believe it or not, you can grab a vacuum cleaner to complete this part of the task. Use the nozzle to clean out the inside of the radiator. If possible, you should put it on a low setting and get the dirt out. This part of cleaning your radiator can be highly satisfying. You might find that you pick up some cobwebs or dust when using a vacuum cleaner on your radiator grill.

Tip: Does your vacuum cleaner have an adapter you can use? If you put a flathead adapter on the top of the nozzle, you can easily get into the gaps of the grill. Learning how to clean inside a radiator isn’t as tricky when you use this approach. You can stick the head of the adapter deep into the gaps and get any of the dust there.

3. Dust with a dry cloth

Next up, let’s look at how to clean radiator dust. You can use a specific radiator brush for this step, but what if you don’t have one? If that’s the case, you should grab a dry cloth instead. It will do the same job. The aim of the game here is to wipe off any dust that has settled on the radiator. If you haven’t cleaned the radiators in your home in a while, you can expect a lot of grime to have gathered there.

Use the dry cloth to sweep away the mess. Microfibre cloths work best here as they pick up the dust without too much trouble. Use a swift wiping technique. You don’t need to push too hard on the cloth, or you will wipe the grime onto the radiators. When looking into how to clean dust behind radiators, you will find that this technique works well too. You can pop a towel down under your radiator to catch any dust that falls.

4. Wipe with soap and water

When you’ve done all of the above, the next step is to grab some soap and water. You can make your cleaning solution in a bucket. Once you have completed this step, you will want to dry the radiators completely. If you leave them damp — or think that they will dry naturally — you could end up with a nasty case of radiator rust. That’s the last thing you want. To avoid it, you can take a cloth and dry the nooks and crannies afterwards.

Dip a sponge or cloth into the warm soapy water and wipe over the parts of the radiator that look dirty. You don’t want the cloth or sponge to be too wet. Give it a ring before you start this part of the cleaning process. Spoiler: Radiators don’t like being wet. You don’t want to go pouring water onto them. Instead, ensure that your cloth is slightly damp when you get to work. You should find that any marks or stains come off quickly.

5. Use The Pink Stuff

So far, so good! If you have followed steps one to four, you should see that your radiators are relatively clean already. Now it’s the time for the icing on the cake. Here’s a radiator cleaning tip made famous by Mrs Hinch a couple of years ago. So you can get started, you will need a tub of The Pink Stuff: The Miracle Cleaning Paste.

The thick paste can be handy if you’re trying to get any stains off your radiator. Grab a clean cloth and get to work. You can scoop some of the cleaner and rub it directly on the stain. Leave that to sit for 10-15 minutes and then wipe away. Keep in mind that you may have to use a little elbow grease to get this to work. If the stains are tough, you could even use an electric sonic scrubber to get things moving quickly.

6. Clean the skirting boards

You’ve cleaned your radiators — now what? Before you finish this cleaning project, there’s one last thing you should do. You need to give your skirting boards some attention. When cleaning your radiators, dust and grime will have fallen directly onto them. As we have mentioned, a towel will also catch a lot of the debris here.

You can clean your skirting boards with some warm soapy water. Again, you should use a clean cloth to wipe these. If you have varnished skirting boards, you should find that the water doesn’t damage them. On the other hand, if your skirting boards are made of porous wood, you want to avoid using any liquid on them. If that is the case, you can use a dry cloth or a soft brush to sweep off any dust that has settled there.

There you have it! Within this guide, we’ve outlined the simplest way to clean your radiator in no time at all. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a natural-born Mrs Hinch or hate cleaning; the above process is super easy and will take you a matter of minutes. So, now that you know how to make your radiators look brand new, what are you waiting for? Why not learn how to bleed a radiator next? 


Did we forget to mention something? Don’t panic. Here are some answers to the frequently asked questions about keeping your radiators looking spick and span. Simple!

Is it safe to wash radiators?

Yes! However, you do not want to pour water on your radiators. If you use the cleaning process outlined above, you should find that it’s safe to do. Of course, if you have electric radiators, you must take extra precautions. You might find that your user or installation manual includes information about how to be safe here.

What can I use to clean inside radiators?

As we have already mentioned, you can use a thin nozzle of a vacuum cleaner to get inside your radiators. Failing that, you may want to use a specific radiator brush. Either way, you should find it easy to get into those smaller spaces and clean them.

Can you put vinegar inside a radiator?

You should avoid using vinegar when you are cleaning your radiator. As you likely already know, vinegar is acidic, which can make it corrosive. If you want to protect your radiators, use gentler cleaning products — such as soap, water, and The Pink Stuff.

How do you clean an old radiator?

Cleaning an old radiator is similar to a new one. You can follow the above steps that we have covered. However, if you find radiator rust somewhere, you may want to use a special treatment to get rid of that quickly and easily.

Got any other radiator cleaning hacks to share? Let us know in the comments below!

Joanne A


Expert in finding beautiful solutions for small and rented spaces. Would happily spend the rest of my life shopping for homewares and watching Disney movies - I only wish I had Cinderella's army of mice to help me clean!

  1. Author Joan norton on March 30, 2023 at 11:00 am

    I use a hair dryer to blow out the dust but putting a towel underneath the radiator is a good idea

    1. Author Joanne A on April 5, 2023 at 3:11 pm


  2. Author susan bowden on June 10, 2023 at 4:12 pm

    the long bottle brushes that pound shops sell are brilliant for cleaning down the back of radiators - alternatively a microfibre cloth wound around a coathanger wire works, too (secure with rubber bands). The towel or old cloth underneath is a really good idea.

    1. Author Joanne A on June 19, 2023 at 10:04 am

      Lovely ideas!

  3. Author Elizabeth on February 11, 2024 at 6:29 pm

    How do you clean the fins when you can’t get the grill off? I can’t get the sides off to remove the grill

    1. Author Joanne A on April 15, 2024 at 11:08 am

      To clean an appliance's fins without removing the grill, use a soft brush or vacuum with a brush attachment to remove dust and debris. For stubborn dirt, gently wipe with a damp cloth, careful not to bend or damage the fins.


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