Cleaning Heating Vents and Radiators

Cleaning Vents and Radiators Before Heating Season Many people who live in older homes or specific regions of the United States rely on radiators or vents as a house heating system. While these can do an excellent job of keeping your home snug during the winter, they also tend to collect a lot of dust.

Learn how dusty radiators and heating vents can impact your home (and bank account), then pick up some tips on how to clean these areas of your house.

Why It’s Important to Know How to Clean a Radiator or Vent

When you’re dealing with vents and radiators, there’s a good chance dust buildup is going to end up being circulated throughout the room and your entire home. Obviously, this is not ideal when you’re in a home that’s closed up for the colder months, especially if you’re cleaning for allergy sufferers.

What’s more, cobwebs and layers of dust can make your house heating system work overtime. This means that as outdoor temperatures drop, your energy and fuel bills soar higher and higher.

How to Clean a Vintage Radiator

When we say “vintage” radiator, we’re describing the type that you’d find in an older home. They’re often shaped similar to accordions.

You’ll need:
  1. You want to make sure you’re cleaning safely, so check to be certain the radiator is not in use.
  2. Use the radiator brush to loosen any dust in between coils, gaps and so forth.
  3. Wipe down the outside of the radiator with a dry microfiber cloth to shake loose any remaining dust.
  4. Use the vacuum to remove any dust that has been left clinging to the radiator or that has gathered on the floor.
  5. Mix a few drops of dishwashing liquid and warm water in the bucket.
  6. Lay a towel or sheet down on the floor under the radiator to catch any drips.
  7. Dampen a microfiber cloth with the soapy water. (Don’t soak the cloth. You just want it to be a little wet.)
  8. Wipe the outside of the radiator down with the cloth.
  9. Dry the radiator with a clean towel to prevent rust.

How to Clean a Baseboard Radiator

Baseboard radiators are a little more delicate than their older counterparts because they have thin metal fins under the cover.

You’ll need:
  • A vacuum with a crevice tool or brush attachment
  • A thin paintbrush
  • Dishwashing liquid
  • Warm water
  • Microfiber cloths
  • An old sheet or towels
  1. Make sure your radiator is not in use. You want it to be cool as you work.
  2. Remove the cover to expose the fins. You may need a screwdriver for this step, but many covers just pop off.
  3. Use the vacuum cleaner to eliminate as much dust as possible from the fins. Be very careful during this step, as the fins are easily bent.
  4. With the paintbrush, gently sweep any dust out from in between the fins.
  5. Use the vacuum to pick up discarded dust from the floor.
  6. Mix a few drops of dishwashing liquid with warm water in your bathtub or laundry room sink.
  7. Using the microfiber cloth and soapy water, clean the radiator cover.
  8. Lay the cover on an old sheet to dry or use a towel to dry by hand. Do not restore the cover until it has been dried completely.

How to Clean Heating Vents

If your home has a central house heating system, it’s likely you have vents. These need to be cleaned just like radiators.

You’ll need:
  • A screwdriver
  • A vacuum with a crevice tool
  • Dishwashing liquid
  • Microfiber cloths
  1. Make sure your heat is off and disconnect the power to the house heating system if possible.
  2. Unscrew the vent plates with the screwdriver.
  3. Using the dishwashing liquid and a microfiber cloth, wash the vent covers in your kitchen or laundry room sink.
  4. Dry the vent covers with a clean microfiber cloth.
  5. Vacuum the inside of the vent with the crevice tool attachment. Reach as far as you can go with the hose so that you can remove as much dust as possible.
  6. Make sure the covers are completely dry, then use the screwdriver to put them back into place.

Bonus: Instructions for a DIY Radiator Cleaning Brush


Don’t have a radiator cleaning brush? No problem! You can get your DIY fix and make one at home.

You’ll need:
  1. Fasten the microfiber cloth to one end of the yardstick with the rubber band.
  2. Voilà! You have a radiator cleaning brush. Just make sure you change out the microfiber cloth if it starts to collect too much dust.

Need help getting your home ready for winter and all the holiday gatherings that come with the season? Contact your local Merry Maids! Whether you’re looking to stay cozy and unwind or plan on hosting festive winter parties, we’re here to lend a hand.