How to Clean a Radiator

As a radiator is present in most rooms of your home, it can gather dust quickly like any static furniture or appliance. Whether you love to clean or not, keeping your radiators in a pristine condition not only helps them look their best but also ensures there is no build-up of dust and other dirt that can accumulate. Depending on the room, some may be more prone to dust than others, especially if located in hard-to-reach areas or behind other furniture, or even in rooms with no regular fresh air circulating.

The good news is radiators are quite simple to keep clean and there are some tips and techniques to help too. Here’s the best way to clean a radiator with minimal effort that you can make part of your regular household cleaning routine.

Why Clean a Radiator?

You may think that your home’s radiators are happy to work no matter how spotless they are, but the reality is heating performance can be affected. If after a long summer of natural heat within the home you decide to use your radiators, one of the things to check is the amount of dust build-up if they have been forgotten about. No matter if you have designer radiators in your home or traditional column radiators, a layer of dust over them can prevent heat from escaping, so to avoid this happening, regular cleaning is essential. After all, the harder your radiators have to work to heat a room, the longer they need to be on and the more this will be reflected in your energy bills.

Best Way to Easily Clean a Radiator

It can be easy to forget about the humble radiator on the wall when cleaning a room, and sometimes only a quick wipe of a duster is all it will be subjected to. But if there is a build-up of dust, grime, or dirt, it’s going to need a little more attention. When looking at how to clean a radiator effectively, you’ll ideally need the following:

  • Duster
  • Soap, water, a bucket, and a sponge
  • Radiator brush
  • Vacuum cleaner

Not all of these items are essential when cleaning behind radiators as well as on top, so if you don’t have all to hand don’t worry, you can still give them a good clean. If you do have all of these, then the best way to clean a radiator is just a step away.

Cleaning the Radiator Exterior

Once you have your cleaning items. and you’re in the mood to clean, the exterior of the radiator and the area surrounding it should be your first point of call. Here’s how:

  • Turn off the radiator – in the interests of safety, it’s best to turn off the radiator you are about to clean. This will ensure it is not hot to touch. The other benefit of doing so is that the heat can attract dust to the radiator, so having them turned off will ensure that any removed dust particles remain off, making your job easier.
  • Vacuum in and around the radiator – if you have your vacuum cleaner, you can quickly remove most of the settled dust that is on the surface. You’ll also be able to vacuum around the radiator too, picking up any fallen dust from the floor and on the wall. If you have a soft brush attachment for your vacuum cleaner, this is recommended as it won’t scratch the radiator surface.
  • Wash the radiator surface – whilst many may stop at just dusting with a dry cloth, the best way to clean a radiator thoroughly is by using soap and water. In the same way you would wash the floor with a mop, or your car with a sponge, cleaning the surface of your radiators in this way can provide the most effective result. All you need is some regular washing-up liquid and to mix it with warm water in a bucket. Make sure any excess water is removed from the sponge until it is damp and wipe down the surface. This will dry naturally.

How to Clean Behind Radiators

Whilst the exterior is easy to access, cleaning behind radiators can be slightly trickier, but not impossible. You won’t need to remove the radiator from the wall either when looking at how to clean behind radiators, although this will allow you to have the best access behind it. The best way to clean behind radiators is to:

  • Use a radiator brush or similar that can get behind them. As the gaps may be narrow to the wall, this will help clean where your hand won’t reach, and avoid getting any limbs stuck!
  • Use a vacuum cleaner with a narrow nozzle attachment. This is also effective at getting to hard-to-reach areas like a brush can but with the benefit of quickly removing the dust.
  • Clean from each angle. Use a brush or vacuum attachment on both sides, above and underneath the radiator. This should remove most dust that is trapped.

How to Clean Inside a Radiator

If you have a flat top grille radiator design or a double panel radiator, you’ll have gaps in between the panels where dust can collect, unlike with single panel radiators. If so, cleaning in between the panels should be considered. You can use a radiator brush to dislodge any trapped dust inside your radiator.

You should also vacuum the dislodged dust – most of this will fall through and collect underneath the radiator. Use a vacuum cleaner to quickly clean this up, or a dustpan and brush. You will need to remove your radiator cover before you can properly clean inside your radiator


Removing radiator covers is an important step in cleaning the inside of your radiators. Look for the fixing screws that attach the cover to the wall or radiator. These screws are usually located on the top and bottom of the cover.

Use a screwdriver to loosen the fixing screws, being careful not to damage the screws or the cover while removing them. Once you’ve loosened the fixing screws, carefully lift the cover off the radiator. Some covers may be heavy, so make sure you have someone to help you if necessary.


Use a vacuum cleaner with a brush attachment to remove dust and debris from the fins of the radiator. Start at the top of the radiator and work your way down, being careful not to damage the fins. If you removed the radiator cover, clean it with a damp cloth or sponge. Be sure to dry it thoroughly before reattaching it. Once you’re done cleaning the radiator and cover, reattach the cover if you removed it.


If you have a radiator with a top grill, cleaning it can be a bit tricky – you need to remove the grill on top of the radiator so you can access the fins inside. The grill is usually held in place with clips or screws, so be careful when removing it with pliers or a screwdriver.

Once the grill is off, use a vacuum cleaner with a brush attachment to remove dust and debris from the fins inside the radiator. Start at the top of the radiator and work your way down, being careful not to damage the fins. If you don’t have a vacuum cleaner, you can use a soft-bristled brush instead.

While the grill is off, take the opportunity to clean it as well. Use a damp cloth or sponge to remove any dust or dirt, and make sure you dry it completely before reattaching it.

Once the fins and grill are both clean, reattach the grill to the top of the radiator. Make sure it’s securely in place, and that any clips or screws are tightened properly.


Learning how to clean a radiator is fairly straightforward, but by following this advice, you can ensure you always provide the best clean possible. When completed regularly, this will become a speedy process every time and avoid any major build-up of dust and dirt.

For more on the best way to clean a radiator, or if you have any queries, please contact our friendly team.