Learn How To Clean Chrome Radiators The Easy Way

Chrome is used in many household fixtures, including bathroom accessories, faucets and radiators, thanks to its long-lasting, powerful, and tenacious nature. The chrome coating gives a radiator a lovely look and serves as a hard-wearing, protective layer that prevents the radiator body from rusting.

man installs an electric heated towel rail in the bathroom

With that being said, this does in no way mean that you should not clean it as it requires regular upkeep to maintain its lustre and shine. This is because mildew and watermarks may all degrade your chrome radiator over time. And you may already know how to clean a stainless steel heated towel rail or how to clean sludge from your radiator. But do you know how to clean chrome radiators? The good news is that cleaning it is not difficult and you probably already have all the cleaning products at home, so stick around as we are about to show you how! 

What exactly is chrome?

Chrome is short for chromium, a hard and lustrous metal that is the 24th chemical element in the periodic table. It is too hard and brittle to be used structurally in the same way that steel, aluminium, or other alloys are widely used in construction. Its smooth sheen and corrosion-resistant qualities, on the other hand, make it excellent for use in metal alloys – or as an external coat for other metal equipment. 

What’s the difference between stainless steel and chrome?

The two have more in common than you might think. Because stainless steel is an alloy generated by mixing chromium with iron, nickel, silicon, and other metals, your chrome-plated radiator and your stainless steel radiator are actually made from the same components.

However, the way chromium is used is the key distinction between the two. Chrome-plated radiators only have a thin layer of chrome on the outside, which acts as a corrosion and surface damage barrier. In contrast, chromium is blended inherently into the alloy of stainless steel radiators. Also, chrome has a brighter sheen in terms of appearance, but stainless steel is easier to polish

What is chrome plating, and how does it work?

It is the process of applying a thin layer of chrome to a metal or plastic object’s external surfaces. Chrome radiators and towel rails are made of a mild steel alloy with a chrome layer applied to the surface.

a man regulates the temperature in a heated towel rail

It is a sophisticated industrial procedure where the chrome layer is never “painted on” or applied by hand. Chemical electrolysis is used to plate chrome onto things. Then, a radiator and a sheet of chrome are suspended in a metal salt solution and connected to a battery. 

The established electric circuit draws positively charged chromium ions to the negatively charged radiator body, dislodging them from the sheet of chrome. This technique creates an even layer of chrome on the radiator’s surface in a short period of time.

Chrome is used in various industries, from motorsports to interior design to jewellery, since it prevents corrosion and provides a firm, smooth, and bright chrome finish.

Types of chrome plating

It can be divided into two categories:

1. Hard chrome plating

A thick chrome layer is applied to the plated products to help them withstand hardness tests. This type is mostly used to withstand a lot of heat and is rarely used for decoration. It is used in automobiles, motorcycles, and factory machinery.

2. Decorative chrome plating

The chrome layer is extremely thin and provides corrosion protection and a smooth, lustrous finish. Layers of other metals always precede it. Nickel is the most common metal, and it is often mixed with a copper layer. Car bodywork, kitchen and bathroom radiators are all examples of this.

The quality of chrome is determined by various elements involved in the production process. For example, the number of layers used, the type of metal used in the layers beneath the chrome, the salt solution used, and the purity of the elements in the electrolysis cell are all factors to consider.

Unfortunately, there is no standard terminology in the industry to distinguish between different types of chrome for consumers. Terms like “premium chrome” and “triple chrome” are just marketing jargon that can signify whatever the salesperson wants them to. Look at the price, warranty, and reviews to determine the quality of the chrome used on your towel radiator.

How to clean chrome radiators step-by-step

Step 1: Turn off the central heating system

Turn off the heating and let your radiator cool down before doing anything to avoid any accidents.

Step 2: Use clean water and dish soap to remove dirt

To remove a buildup of dirt and grime that has accumulated on the radiator’s surface, mix clean lukewarm water with five to ten drops of dish soap in a bucket and swish your hand through the water to make suds. This will help remove any rust that has developed on the radiator’s surface. 

Step 3: Wipe the chrome surface using the cleaning solution

Dip a dry cloth into the cleaning solution and wipe the entire chrome surface of the radiator with it. To get the most out of your cleaning, make sure you cover every bit of the metal. Regularly dip the cloth into the cleaning solution to keep it saturated during the cleaning process. You can also use a soft-bristled toothbrush to clean any harder-to-reach spots. Just make sure that you dip it first into the cleaning solution.

and in protective glove with rag wiping chrome heated towel rail in bathroom

Step 4: Rinse thoroughly

Pour the cleaning solution and rinse the bucket after washing the entire radiator surface. After that, fill it with clean water and use it to rinse the entire chrome surface. Then, wipe away any excess water and cleaning solution from the chrome surface using a damp cloth.

Step 5: Use vinegar to remove stubborn stains

You may run across stains or blemishes that are difficult to remove, even after washing with soapy water. For such stains, white vinegar is the way to go. It is an excellent cleaner for most surfaces, but it’s especially effective on rusted chrome radiators. Because of its acidic nature, it is the ideal method for rust removal.

Use a sponge to apply a little amount of vinegar to the corroded chrome surface, and you should see results almost immediately. Fill a bucket halfway with water and the other half with vinegar. 

Dip a microfibre cloth into the solution, wring it out, and use it to remove stubborn stains and markings. Then, rinse the radiator with plain water once all of the stains have been gone. You can also use baking soda or baby oil instead of vinegar. Simply repeat the same steps above.

Step 6: Dry the surface of the chrome

Allowing the water on the radiator’s surface to dry on its own is not a good idea because you might end up with water spots on the surface. To dry the chrome surface, use a clean microfibre cloth and look for any signs of rust while wiping the radiator.

How to remove rust from your chrome radiator step-by-step

A yellow towel is dried on a heated towel rail

Step 1: Cut some aluminium foil into squares

Because it is a much softer metal, aluminium foil is the best rust removal tool for chrome surfaces as it will neither scratch nor fade the chrome surface. Tear three strips of foil, each about 7 to 10 centimetres in length. 

Step 2: Fill a bucket halfway with water

Water serves as a lubricant between the foil and the chrome surface. The rust is then removed through a chemical reaction between the chrome and the foil.

Step 3: Use the aluminium foil to scrub the rust

To get the piece of aluminium foil wet, submerge it in a bucket of water. Then, lightly wipe the damp foil against the rusty chrome surface in circular motions. You do not need to apply a lot of pressure here. 

A small amount of friction is all that is required to produce the aluminium oxide needed to dissolve the rust. If you’re cleaning a wide rusty area, you may need to switch to a new foil after every 25 cm of the cleaned corroded surface.

Step 4: Apply a wad of foil to pitted areas

Chrome surfaces are prone to pitting, especially in areas where rust has been present. The ideal way to go about this is to use a foil wad, which delivers the best results. The foil wad will remove the rust and smooth the affected areas, leaving the radiator looking lovely and gleaming.

Step 5: Rinse and pat dry the chrome surface

You can now dry your chrome radiator once you’re certain that all of the rust has been removed. Rinse away the dark rust paste from the radiator’s surface with a microfibre cloth or sponge. After you’ve removed all of the paste, dry the area with a microfibre cloth or towel.

Terry towels hang in a bathroom towel rail

That’s all there is to it! Radiator maintenance is not as difficult as some homeowners would like to believe. With the right cleaning tips and methods, you can restore the glamour and original glossy look to your radiator in no time!  After cleaning them, you may use covers to protect your radiator and dress them to look good.

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