How to clean a radiator, according to experts – and why it can help save on energy bills

Add this simple yet so often forgotten chore to your weekly routine

Radiators are one of the most used items within the home, yet often the least cleaned. How easy is it to forget to clean our radiators?! If you're guilty of neglecting yours, and rest assured we're with you, there are a few simple tips for how to clean a radiator to tackle the task with minimal effort.

Not only is a build of dust behind your radiator unsightly, it could also be stopping the heating system from working efficiently.

In summer radiators might be the last things on our minds, but when it comes to care and cleaning they shouldn't be. Andrew Collinge, a heating product expert at Best Heating explains that we should be removing the dust from our radiators on a weekly basis – no matter the season.

room with sofa set cushions white wall and kitchen cabinet

(Image credit: Future PLC/ Jody Stewart)

The majority of dust, about 60 per cent, comes from the outdoors and things we bring inside' explains Andrew. 'Dust settles on radiators easily. But keeping it clean can help lower heating costs as the build-up can prevent heat from escaping. Therefore making your radiators work harder and longer to keep a room warm.'

Radiators can be tricky items to clean. However, if you follow these five steps you should have yours dust free in no time.

How to clean a radiator

1.Turn off the heating

'Before you begin cleaning your radiators, it's important that they are turned off,' Andrew explains. 'It is not only safer, but prevents them drawing up more dust while you clean.'

room with wooden stool flower vase and wood candle

(Image credit: Future PLC/ Polly Eltes)

2. Start with a vacuum cleaner

Before you reach for a feather duster, Andrew recommends using a vacuum to clean in, around and underneath the radiator.This will help to capture the dust, as oppose to unsettling it with a duster and pushing it back into the air.

'Use a vacuum to clear as much dust in and around the radiator as possible,' he explains. 'If your vacuum has them, use the smaller attachments to get inside down the fins.'

3. Use a radiator brush

To reach the remaining bits of dust and dirt, after vacuuming the majority out, use a radiator cleaning brush. If you don't have one you can easily make your own.

'Take a stick or piece of wood and wrap a microfibre cloth or fluffy duster around it and secure with tape,' suggests Andrew. 'To get fid of the smaller pieces that get caught on the radiator fixings, using a hairdryer on a cold setting is an effective way to blow these out down onto the towel.'

However, remember to put down a towel under the radiator before embarking on this stage to protect your flooring.

room with wooden chair white flower vase and potted plant

(Image credit: Future PLC/ David Parmiter)

4. Wipe down with soap and water

'Fill a bucket with warm soapy water and using a sponge, wipe down the outside of the radiator,' says Andrew. 'Ensure you have a lot of soapy suds on your sponge and ring it out so that it is damp but not dripping.'

Dry your radiator thoroughly with a microfibre cloth to make sure the metal isn't left to rust.

5. Give your skirting boards a final check

After cleaning the radiator, give the surrounding warm and skirting boards a check to see if any of the radiator dust has fallen down.

'These may need wiping down too,' says the expert. 'As sometimes the heat can cause dirt and dust to stick to the wall. Give any marks a rub with the soapy sponge being careful not to damage any paintwork.'

Andrew concludes saying 'A few minutes spent dusting your radiators every time you do a weekly clean could result in a large cost saving over time.' Worth the effort we say.

Also consider how to bleed a radiator to keep your heating in good working order, this too can save you money in the long term. but it's job to undertake far less regularly than once a week.

Are your radiators over due a clean?

Rebecca Knight
Rebecca Knight

Rebecca Knight has been the Deputy Editor on the Ideal Home Website since 2022. She graduated with a Masters degree in magazine journalism from City, University of London in 2018, before starting her journalism career as a staff writer on women's weekly magazines. She fell into the world of homes and interiors after joining the Ideal Home website team in 2019 as a Digital Writer. In 2020 she moved into position of Homes News Editor working across Homes & Gardens, LivingEtc, Real Homes, Gardeningetc and Ideal Home covering everything from the latest viral cleaning hack to the next big interior trend.