Learn How To Clean Dust From Inside Radiators Without Hassle

Radiators are built in such a way that dust can accumulate inside the fins in the long term, which eventually can take a long time to clean. When you have a buildup of dust and sludge inside your radiator, it looks ugly, to state the obvious, but it could also prevent it from working properly.

Gloved hand cleaning radiator from dust

So, if you have been neglecting yours, and yes, it happens to all of us, there are a few basic techniques for cleaning a radiator that will save you time and effort, so keep on reading to find out more! 

Why does dust collect in your radiators?

Dust is present all around you and in the air at all times. It doesn’t matter if you can see it or not; there’s a cloud of dust swirling around us. If you have a pet, there will very certainly be pet hair in the air, and if you smoke, there will be nicotine residue and so on.

The air that circulates warmth around your room causes dust to clump up in your radiator. Warm air rises, and cool air descends, so when the air sinks, it drags all of the dust with it and is sucked up through your radiator.

During this process, the dust begins to gather in the fins and over the back of your radiator over time. You might not have bothered to peek down the back of your horizontal radiator before reading this article now, but if you did, you must have noticed that there’s quite a bit of dust down there.

Why do you need to clean inside your radiator?

A clean radiator is about more than just excellent housekeeping and a beautiful home aesthetic. You will be surprised to learn that, in addition to looking good, a clean radiator can help you save money on your heating bills. The amount of dust that collects between the fins of your radiator can actually prevent heat output from exiting, causing your radiator to work harder to heat your space. 

You don’t want to be stuck with an irritation like this, especially if you spent a lot of money on designer radiators. That is why it’s important to clean it properly at least once a year, though more is never a bad idea. This way, you’ll be able to keep track of the dust and debris that accumulates. You can even make it a part of your weekly cleaning routine, so you don’t forget.

How to clean the dust inside your radiator step-by-step

You don’t need any special cleaning products to clean dust from your radiators. All you need, you already have it at home. Hence, let’s see what tools and materials you need and the steps to follow for successful cleaning and keeping your heating costs down.

A hand cleaning the radiator from dust

Tools needed

  • A vacuum cleaner
  • A duster 
  • A bucket
  • Warm water
  • Washing up liquid
  • Clean sponges and cloths
  • A large towel or dust sheet
  • Ruler
  • Specialist radiator cleaning brush
  • Sellotape

Now follow these simple steps to help you clean all nooks and crannies of your radiator:

Step 1: Turn off your heating system

You should do so before you even consider pouring a drop of water on your radiator. Cleaning it when it’s cold makes sense because the convection current won’t draw up dust when you’re cleaning it.

Step 2: Get things started with a vacuum cleaner

Before reaching for the feather duster, use a vacuum cleaner in, around, and underneath the radiator. This will help trap the dust in place, rather than upsetting it with a duster and forcing it back into the air. Remove as much dust as possible from within and around the radiator. If your vacuum has crevice tools, use them to go inside and down the fins too.

Step 3: Use a radiator brush to clean the radiator

After vacuuming away the majority of the dust and grime, use a radiator cleaning brush to reach the remaining particles. You can easily make your own DIY brush if you don’t have one. Wrap a microfibre cloth around a yardstick or piece of wood and secure with tape. Or you can easily remove your radiator to reach all the make the cleaning process easier.

Using a hairdryer on a cold setting to blow out the tiny pieces that get trapped on the radiator is an excellent and simple way to blow these out down onto a towel. But, remember to place the towel under the radiator to protect your flooring before starting this procedure.

Step 4: Clean the surface using soap and water

Fill a bucket with warm soapy water and clean down the outside of the radiator with a sponge. Make sure your sponge is covered with soapy suds and wring it out so that it is moist but not dripping. To avoid rusting your dust-free radiator, dry it completely using a microfibre cloth.

Step 5: Double-check your skirting boards

Check the surrounding wall and skirting boards after you have finished cleaning to see if there is some dust falling, as these may also require wiping down. As a result of the heat, dust might adhere to the wall and so rub any marks with the soapy sponge, but be careful not to scratch the surface and damage any paintwork, so use minimal pressure when doing so.

Maintenance tips

Beyond the above cleaning tips, it would be best to know some maintenance tips to ensure that you get the best out of your radiators and prolong their lifetime.

close up to female hand putting money in pig money box standing on a radiator

1. Bleed your radiator on a regular basis

One of the simplest and most important things you can do is bleed your radiator on a regular basis. Bleeding simply means releasing any trapped air that has built up at the top over time. Air may have gotten into the system and is blocking the hot water from heating the entire radiator instead of flowing freely around it. Because you won’t be using it in the summer, you won’t have to worry about hot radiators cooling down before you can bleed them.

If you noticed that some of your radiators weren’t becoming as hot as they should have been over the winter or spring, or that they were hot at the bottom but not at the top, bleeding them can sometimes solve the problem.

2. Check the boiler pressure 

Once you are done with bleeding, you’ll want to check the boiler pressure. Look for a temperature and pressure gauge in the boiler’s service panel. Depending on the manufacturer, a cold boiler should read 1.3 bar, whereas a hot boiler should read 1.5-1.8 bar.

If your boiler’s pressure goes below these levels, you may need to add extra water to the system. You can open a cold water line leading into your boiler to let extra water in, but you should do so while keeping an eye on the pressure gauge. When your gauge reaches 1.3 bar, close the cold water valve.

3. Make sure your chemical inhibitor is up to date

Water is constantly flowing around your central system’s pipelines, radiators, boiler, and heat pump. Water will have a chemical reaction with the metal inside all of these components if left to its own devices, creating rust and corrosion.

Tiny pieces of metal will flake into your system, typically settling at the bottom of your radiator or restricting water flow via your pipework. Everything in your heating system will have to work harder and harder to keep the hot water flowing to the appropriate places until it breaks down, which will usually happen in the winter when you need it the most. 

On the other hand, internal corrosion can be virtually stopped by pouring a chemical inhibitor into your system and ensuring that the levels are replenished once a year. For up to 10 radiators, a 1-litre container of inhibitor will be enough. Use an extra bottle if you have more than 10 in your home.

The inhibitor works to prevent the chemical reaction from taking place, resulting in less corrosion and rusting inside your heaters. This will ensure that it performs smoothly and efficiently and help extend the life of all of the components.

4. Make sure you adjust the thermostatic radiator valves 

Even if you aren’t using your central heating, if you have thermostatic radiator valves (TRVs) on some or all of your radiators, it’s necessary to pay attention to them during the summer. TRVs react to the temperature in the room, so as the weather warms up and the temperature rises, the TRVs will close themselves off, as they should. 

However, you likely turned your TRVs down to low right before you stopped using your central heating because less hot water is required to heat the radiator. Summer temperatures will have set in, and you will have turned off your central heating and set your TRVs to the lowest setting.

In principle, this is the right thing to do, but when it is time to use your radiator again at the beginning of winter, you may find that your TRVs have become stuck in the off position. Your radiator will not heat up as a result, and you or a plumber will need to free up the pin inside the valve.

Turning your TRVs to the “maximum” position and then turning off your heater is a simple solution to avoid this problem. Your heating will be turned off, so you don’t get too hot, but your TRVs will be completely functional and won’t be trapped shut when you turn it back on in the winter season.

a cat resting on a clean radiator

To sum up, radiator cleaning is simple, but it is important to do it correctly to keep your system functioning smoothly. We hope we made the process simpler for you with these cleaning tips so that you can clean inside your radiator yourself without having to call a professional!

Scroll to Top
Send this to a friend