How to Clean Behind Radiators

Cleaning is one of those things with which most people have a love-hate relationship. Most people don’t like to clean because it is a tedious chore that needs to be done over and over and over again, but they also couldn’t live without it, since it is one of our most basic sanitary needs. As satisfying as cleaning can be (especially when it is over), there are some parts of it that can remain frustrating. One of these is cleaning a radiator and the space behind it. 

How to Clean Behind Radiators
How to Clean Behind Radiators

It is the type of activity that doesn’t seem so important, so many people like to put it off and then never do it, however, it should be done once a month to avoid the buildup of too much dust and other unhealthy particles. In today’s article, we will be going over how one should clean behind radiators in a step-by-step guide, and we will make it foolproof. We will also give some tips to make the process somewhat more achievable. If you want to know more about how to clean one of the most frustrating parts of a home, read on!

Step 1: Analyzing the Situation

First and foremost, you need to be aware of the situation you are facing. There are so many variables when it comes to cleaning radiators, that it is actually quite hard to write a comprehensive guide to it, since every radiator, setup, living space, set of equipment and tools, etc. is different. 

Take a look at the type of radiator you have.  How close is it to the wall? What is the shape of the radiator? How dirty is it? How sensitive is the wall behind it? These and more are all questions you should be asking before starting to do anything. This will determine the tools and techniques you will need to use to get the dirt off from behind your radiator as thoroughly as possible. 

Analyzing the situation also means analyzing the tools you have. Do you have a vacuum cleaner? Perhaps a hose attachment to it? A long bristle brush maybe? The equipment you have will also play a huge role (possibly the most important one) in determining the success of your attempt. 

Also, at this point, you should already turn off the radiator so that you don’t either hurt yourself or just have a horrible time cleaning because of the heat. 

Step 2: Gather the Supplies You Will Need

Okay, so you have analyzed your specific situation and what tools and equipment you have. Now, it is time to fill in the gaps and get the things you don’t have. Here is a short list of things which are usually needed for cleaning the space behind a radiator (you don’t need all of them always, but this is a good reminder if you need something): 

  • Vacuum cleaner
  • A couple of cleaning rags
  • A couple of  cleaning sponges
  • A long, thin microfiber or bristle brush, or a Radiator Brush like this one
  • Screwdrivers

Depending on your circumstance, you might need all of them, only a couple. 

The two crucial items on this list are the vacuum cleaner and the brush. Those two alone are enough to do most of the cleaning, but if you want to do a really thorough job, you will probably need a majority of the things on this list. 

Step 3: If You Can, Remove any Protective or Decorative Panels or Covers

Many older radiators are just basically chunks of metal in which some form of gas or hot water flows, but in modern times, people have a much keener eye for aesthetics. This is why most radiators come equipped or can be equipped with either protective panels or decorative panels and grids, which serve both an aesthetic and sometimes also a safety purpose. 

Now, these are the elements that you will most likely have to remove. Though having a thin brush and a thin hose attachment for your vacuum cleaner might be enough to get most of the dirt out from behind or even inside the radiator, we will assume that you want to do a thorough cleaning, and it is also what we would advise. Dirt can build up for months behind a radiator and with the heat, the particles can be propelled into the air, worsening asthma or allergy symptoms. 

Most of the time, protective or decorative panels for radiators are held in place by a couple of screws here and there or perhaps some form of a locking mechanism. You will need to analyze your specific situation and get the tools necessary (if there are any), and you will need to take them off. This usually takes a couple of minutes at most but allows for much better cleaning. 

Step 4: Start Cleaning

Now is the time when you should start cleaning. Any panels or covers which could get in the way were removed by you, perhaps even the detachable elements of the radiators themselves (this really depends on specific radiator types), and you are ready to clean. 

First, you should put a cleaning rag or some cloth under your radiator. This will catch all the dust which will fall down while cleaning. At this point, you can take your long brush, and you can start brushing off the back of the radiator without any water or cleaning agents. This is just to remove the majority of the dust, so watch out not to brush too heavily to damage your radiator or the wall. 

If you don’t have a brush, you can try doing this part with a hairdryer, with which you can blow air behind the radiator or in between the crevices, which will get out the majority of the dust. This is significantly messier though, so investing in a brush is advised. 

When the majority of the dust has been removed, you can dispose of the dust that landed on the cloth under the radiator, just so you don’t accidentally spread it across the room. 

Then, take your hose attachment, attach it to your vacuum cleaner and try to get every nook and cranny behind your radiator. If there are any loose particles of dust around which were not solved by the brush or the hairdryer, your vacuum cleaner will probably take care of that. We advise you put a lot of effort into this part since you can really effectively clean dust with a vacuum cleaner since it doesn’t propel it outward but rather collects it. 

After you are done with the vacuum cleaner, you can also decide to give the radiator some wet treatment. If you have an electric radiator and you aren’t sure about it, or in general, if your situation wouldn’t allow for this step, then avoid it and try to be very thorough with the brushing and vacuuming. However, if you can, definitely use some wet brush or a similar item to clean off the last particles of dust and keep your radiator squeaky clean. 

You can either clean and then wet the brush you were using previously, then even put some cleaning agent on it and then scrub the back of your radiator until it is spotless, or you can take some long, straight, and sturdy object (such as a ruler) and tie a rag to the end of it and do the same. 

This will catch the last dust particles, and if you are using some conditioning or finishing liquid, it might even add a thin protective layer onto your radiator to help you combat the buildup of dust. 

Make sure to clean off any cleaning solution from your radiator, wall, hinges, or floor. If some water droplets are remaining, don’t worry about those, but a cleaning solution of any kind could discolor or damage whatever it is on, so do your best to remove it. 

Step 5: Assemble Your Radiator

If you have removed any parts of your radiator, now is the time you should start placing them back onto your heater. It would be great if you left the wetness to dry off somewhat so that when you place the panels, grids, grills, or any other part of your radiator back, you will know the job to be done fully, but even if there is some mixture here and there, you can start assembling your radiator. 

Make sure that you have placed back every part of the radiator as it was to avoid any future accidents or to avoid damaging any part of the heating unit. Once you have managed to assemble your radiator and (if needed) turn it back on, you now have a completely clean radiator area that won’t contribute to polluting your air for a long time. 

Make sure to complete this process at least once a month. It isn’t necessary to do so much more often since dust just doesn’t build up fast enough for you to be disassembling your radiator so often, however, depending on the level of dust in your area or home, try making this a habit since it improves the lives of both your radiator and also the people you live with!

Annika Vallgren

The old housewives, in general, were in charge of everything in a household. From doing budget deliberations, meal planning to implementing actions and everything in between, they are simply the right person for the job, period. A major portion of their time was spent doing laundry, cleaning, and feeding her hungry children, who would come home tired from school. I believe we have a lot to learn from her. So, here you will find old housewife tips mixed with modern life hacks, knowledge about washing and cleaning, and much more the modern housewife needs!

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