If you haven’t already turned on your heat for the first time this year, you’ll probably have to do it soon. Before you do, you should give your radiators a good cleaning—and the easiest way to do it involves little more than a hair dryer.
Clogged with dust, your radiator will have to work harder to warm your home (increasing your utility bills), and will be expelling all of those contaminants as it blows around that toasty air. The problem with cleaning a radiator, though, is that if done wrong, you can inadvertently smush the dust deeper inside, making those issues worse—and the radiator even harder to clean—in the future.
So here’s an easy way to clean your radiator—ideally before turning on your heat for the winter.
A vacuum and a hair dryer are all you need
Before you do anything else, use a vacuum to suck up all visible, easy to reach dust and dirt. You can also use a long duster , but be very careful of pushing dust deeper inside the cracks of the radiator. Only worry about tackling the dust clinging to the outside of the radiator.
For the dust hiding inside the radiator, you’ll have to get creative. Instead of a device that sucks air, try one that blows. This tip comes to us from Express, who advises you direct the stream from a hair dryer at the cracks and crevices of your radiator and dislodge dust using short bursts of air. Don’t blow straight into the guts of the machine; instead; angle your dryer from below, so the dust pops up and out. Once it’s safely outside the radiator, you can easily nab it with a duster or cloth.
You can also use a long brush for this dirty job. (There are specialty brushes made just for this purpose.) No brush on hand? Wrap something long and skinny—a yardstick, a shoehorn, a broom handle—in a cloth, rubber band or tape it in place, and stick it down in the crevices to rouse the dust out. For smaller crevices, try straws, a folded-up paper towel roll, chopsticks, or other miniature, rigid items you have around your home.
While the hair dryer is probably the simpler option, anything that gets the dust out and doesn’t push it farther in is fine. Consider using a specialty brush, or wrap something long and skinny—a yardstick, a shoehorn, a broom handle—in a cloth, rubber band or tape it in place, and gently poke it into those dusty crevices. Place a towel under the radiator to catch any errant clumps, and then vacuum up anything left over. (Wear a dust mask if you’re an allergy sufferer or it’s been a long time since you cleaned your radiator.)
Finish the job
After you’ve removed as much interior dust as possible, use a wet, soapy sponge to scrub down the outside of the radiator. Clear out any shallow crevices using a damp toothbrush. Dry everything thoroughly with a paper towel and you’ll be ready to breath a little easier as you stare down the coldest months of the year.