Step-by-step Guide On How to Get Rust Off A Radiator Easily

Radiators are prone to rusting in any house since they are filled with water and heated to extremely high temperatures. Those, particularly in kitchens, bathrooms, and toilets, can be corroded by external factors too. For instance, mopping floors can cause moisture to rise, affecting radiators, especially along the bottom borders.

close up of a rusty radiator

When it is turned off in the summer, the warm moist air in a bathroom will condense onto the radiator and drip down to the bottom, forming drops that rust through from the outside. The thing is, most people will choose to replace a perfectly good but rusted appliance rather than actually deal with it. Well, you don’t have to! In this article, we’ll show you how to remove rust from a radiator and bring back the shiny surface!

The different types of radiators

There are various types in the market. You can find oil filled, electric ones or electric heaters. The same applies to central heating. Below, we have out listed all the possible types you can use on your premises. 

1. Single panel radiators 

They are also known as “hot water containers. They basically consist of a single panel that faces outwardly into the room and is fixed on the wall. It might be divided into many columns for increased surface area, but it’s still a single panel. Single panels are smaller and fit against the wall more closely than double panels.

2. Two-panel radiators

They are two single panels placed against each other and mounted on the wall to provide nearly twice the power. They might protrude far from your wall, but this can be a desirable feature in some designs.

3. Horizontal radiators

They have the conventional shape of being wider than they are taller. It’s generally placed under a window to warm the room in the winter. It is the most secure choice in terms of design, and it has a standard white colour that goes with anything.

4. Vertical radiators 

They are tall and usually more ornamental because they are more visible. Thanks to their design, they can free up a lot of space in a room.

5. Column radiators 

They basically consist of tubes that are placed in rows and connected at the top and bottom to form a single column. They’re usually more classic in design too.

6. Heated towel rails

Towel rails and ladder rails are designed primarily for heating towels to make them warm and fluffy and dry them. They are not powerful enough to heat big rooms, but they can easily heat smaller bathrooms.

How to remove rust from a radiator step-by-step

Removing rust shouldn’t trouble you at all. With the right guidelines and some household items, the whole process will be a walk in the park. You just need to keep in mind that you may also need to remove it in some cases. So, ready to find out how to remove rust?

Gloved hand cleaning radiator from dust

Step 1: Wipe down the surface

First, you need to know how to clean your radiator. Remove any dust or grime before treating the rust and diving in with your cleaning products and solution. Soak a cloth in soapy water, squeeze it out, and wipe off the entire chrome surface. This will eliminate any bacteria left over from your damp towels, as well as disclose any rusty spots you may have missed.

To avoid streaks, drips, or soap marks, re-clean it with fresh water after you’ve cleaned it thoroughly. It is worth noting that cleaning a bathroom radiator at least once a week will keep it germ-free and extra gleaming.

Step 2: Remove the rust

Now comes the fun part: removing the rust! Combine equal parts of white vinegar and water in a basin. Vinegar’s acidic characteristics are right for removing rust without damaging your appliance. If you want to cover up the harsh smell, add some lemon juice into the mix. 

Wipe off the entire surface with a clean microfibre cloth dipped in the solution and use minimal pressure. Dip an old, soft-bristled toothbrush into the solution and scrub the hard-to-reach corners.

Step 3: Use foil to help you along the way

Aluminium foil can be used to remove obstinate rust stains. At this point, resist the urge to grab some stainless steel wool, as this will scratch the surface of your appliance. Because aluminium is a soft metal, it can get rid of rust without causing any damage.

Scrunch a couple of strips of aluminium foil into loose balls. Dip them in a bowl of clean water and scrape the rusty areas off the appliance. This will induce a chemical reaction between the metals and the water, resulting in the formation of aluminium oxide, which will dissolve the rust.

Another advantage of using tinfoil to remove radiator rust is that it can be used as a prophylactic measure. The aluminium protects the surface from rusting in the future by sealing it. If you have problems with this, try dipping the tinfoil in cola rather than water. The fizzy drink’s carbonic acid is also known for its ability to remove stubborn rust stains.

Step 4: Rinse

After wiping away all of the rust, the broken-down rust particles may leave a muddy surface. Dip a dry sponge into a basin of clean water. Then, wring out the excess water, and wipe the surface clean.

Step 5: Dry

It’s important to dry thoroughly with a clean, dry microfibre cloth once any remaining rust has been removed. If you miss this step and allow the surface to dry naturally, you’ll end up with streaks and water spots that detract from your hard work!

Step 6:  Buff the surface of the radiator

Now it’s time to really bring out that gleam! Rub the surface in a circular motion with your dry microfibre cloth. Then use a few drops of baby oil on your cloth to polish the surface for an even brighter shine. Make sure to continuously rub it into the surface to avoid leaving any drop traces.

If you really want to go all out, you can use an electric hand polisher and a clean and dry buffing pad to buff the appliance’s surface.

How to paint a radiator to cover up the rust step-by-step

Another way to get rid of rust is to paint your heating appliance to cover up the rust. Let’s see what you have to do:

Hand painting a radiator with paint brush

Step 1: Allow the radiator to cool down

The first and most important thing you should do is turn it off. Most appliances come with a valve that makes turning off the entire unit much easier. Not to mention that the central heating system can be turned off too.

Step 2: Clean the surface

To get the best results, clean the surface first and remove buildups of dirt particles that may be present. Grime and dust particles may interfere with the paint’s adhesion to the bare metal surface of your appliance.

Wipe the surface with a dry towel dipped in soapy water. Make sure to wipe any hard-to-reach areas with the damp towel as well. After you’ve finished cleaning, dry the surface with a clean cloth.

Step 3: Prepare the surface 

Because painting can be a nasty job, you’ll want to remove any objects that can get in the way while you’re doing it. Alternatively, you can cover such artefacts with a protective sheet to prevent paint from falling on the objects’ surface. Such sheets, for example, will protect your furniture from stains if you use spray paint with a big radius. It would be best if you also safeguarded your wall. Place a dust sheet beneath the heater after that. 

It can also collect paint that may fall to the floor while sanding the metal surface. Plus, use masking tape to protect the valves. To get a well-ventilated room, leave the windows open and make sure there is adequate airflow.

Step 4: Remove any rust spots on the radiator by sanding it 

After you’ve finished preparing the work surface, you’ll need to scrape paint from your appliance to remove the topcoat. Sand with fine-grit sandpaper to remove any rust from the surface. Simply place the sandpaper over the rusted surface and lightly sand it to remove the rust. Or you can use a sander. It’s up to you.

While sanding is a good rust remover, it can take a long time. If your appliance has little rust patches, sandpapers might be a good option, but if your rusty radiator has a lot of patches, you can use an angle grinder.

Step 5: Paint

Choose a colour that pairs with the rest of your home’s interior decor. Or you can get creative and select a colour that sticks out from the rest. Before you start painting, make sure its surface is completely dry.

Hand applying paint to radiator

Do not use regular paint because it is prone to fading. Instead, use radiator paint for this DIY project, as it is heat resistant. 

Step 6: Apply two coats of paint

While a roller can be used here, it is ineffective when painting in small tight spots. That is why you’ll still need a paintbrush to finish some areas if you use a roller. 

You will basically need two coats of paint here, but it is important to let the first coat fully dry before you apply the second one. Once the first coat is fully dry, apply a second coat of anti-corrosion paint. As you go from one fin to the next, simply move the brush from top to bottom. You can also apply three coats of paint if you wish. These coats will provide greater outcomes.

Step 7: Dry

Allow the fresh paint to dry completely after you’ve finished painting the fins, tubes, and edges. Fresh paint could take up to 24 hours to dry fully.

Woman and child wearing socks trying to warm their cold feet in front of radiator

Last but not least, radiators will corrode and rust over time when exposed to extreme conditions. Whether you choose to remove the rust or simply paint your appliance to cover it up, always clean it beforehand and make sure to follow our cleaning tips above for a perfect finish!

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