How to clean a radiator

28 January 2020
How to clean a radiator

As winter moves into spring and the evenings get increasingly lighter, it's a time that we all start to think about having hardcore cleaning session.

Throughout the winter, our central heating systems are operating at full capacity due to the cold external temperatures.

This often attracts dust and dirt to our radiators, so by the time spring has sprung, our rads are usually in need of a serious clean up operation.

Invest in a radiator brush

Because of the shape of many radiator designs, there are lots of nooks and crannies where dust can settle that are very difficult to reach.

This is especially the case if you have column radiators or convector radiators with double layers of convector fins.

The gaps on these rads are simply too small to reach into by hand and will het dirtier and dirtier unless you buy a tool that is specifically designed to do the job.

Fortunately there are many manufacturers who make a wide variety of long, thin radiator brushes that are capable of squeezing into tight radiator spots.

The best radiator brushes look like an oversized pipe cleaner with bristles running right the way around the pole.

For extra practicality, many of these brushes come with a flexible stem running right the way through the brush, allowing you to bend and flex the brush in any way you please so that you can get into awkward areas.

Be sure that the bristles on your brush are not too firm, as this will help ensure that they do not scratch or damage the finish on your radiator.

Use warm soapy water

Once you've used a radiator brush in those hard to reach places, and perhaps used a lint-free cloth to dust off any flat surfaces, the next step is to give your rads a proper wipe down.

You might be tempted to use a general household spray to clean your radiators, however this is not the best way to keep them clean.

It's possible that some of the ingredients with a general cleaner will be too strong for the finish on your radiator, causing scratches or even thinning the powder coat finish many radiators come with.

Instead, it's much better to go old school and dissolve a bit of mild soap in a bowl of warm water.

The soap will get the surface of your radiators clean but won't risk causing damage to the finish, helping you to keep your rads looking bright and clean for years to come.

Cleaning stainless steel radiators

Stainless steel is naturally very resistant to corrosion, so as a radiator material, it's very low maintenance and will not require too much regular upkeep.

That being said, dirty fingers, dust and water marks can all take their toll on a stainless steel radiator. Knowing how to keep your rad clean can prolong the life of the radiator and keep it looking super stylish well into the future.

You don't want to cause any damage to the surface, so it's best to use a soft cloth and soapy water, as described above. If you've got a mirror-finished, stainless steel rad, then you can use a glass cleaner to keep the shine.

Always use a soft, dry cloth to buff the finish to avoid any streaking or water staining on the surface.

Cleaning cast iron radiators

Many period properties are reinstalling cast iron radiators because of their unique character. However, because of their fancy and ornate designs, they often collect a lot of dust and can look dirty.

It's a good idea to vacuum in and around the body of the radiator, using a brush attachment of possible to avoid damaging the paintwork. This will ensure that all loose particles are removed.

You can then use warm soapy water, applied to a damp cloth, to give the cast iron radiator a wipe down. Because there are often narrow crevices, you will find that washing the radiator will take longer than an equivalent with smooth panels. You may also need to give it a second wash to ensure that everywhere is clean and bright.

After washing, rub the radiator down with a towel to remove any excess water, which will help to stop any rusting or unsightly water marks from forming.

Central heating maintenance

In addition to the external surfaces of your radiators, it's also important to keep your general heating system clean and maintained.

Dirt can also build up within your radiators and pipework in the form of radiator sludge, so it's important the levels of chemical inhibitor are topped up at least once per year.

Get a Gas Safe Registered plumber around every 12 months to ensure your boiler and heat pump are fully functional and to check your inhibitor levels.

This will help ensure you radiators are efficiently blasting out heat when you most need them to be during the coldest months.

Look after your radiators and they'll look after you!


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