How to clean a space heater, so you can keep cozy

For when things are lookin' a little dusty

A pastel ombre background with a cut out of a space heater in the center on a pale green circle with sparkles either side.
(Image credit: Future / Beth Mahoney)

For keeping your home or office warm, a space heater can be a fantastic buy. However, over time (and with regular use) dust and dirt can accumulate within the heater, reducing how efficiently it runs. Not to mention impacting how safe it is to use. That means regular cleaning is key!

If you’ve noticed that your space heater looks a li'l dusty, makes you sneeze whenever it’s turned on, or has a funny smell, you might be wondering whether the time has come to clean it — and if that's even a thing. The answer is yes and yes. But how do you clean a space heater? 

To give you a helping hand, we’ve put together an easy guide to all of the ins and outs of cleaning a space heater, complete with plenty of tried and tested tips and advice. 

Good to know

Time: 15 minutes

Difficulty: Easy 

Helpful hints: Make sure to read the manufacturer's instructions before removing the filter or beginning the cleaning process.

Here’s what you’ll need

How to clean a space heater

Step 1: Unplug your space heater

Safety first. Start by unplugging your space heater from its power outlet. Whatever you do, don’t attempt to clean it while it’s still connected to the power. If you've been using it. Allow it to fully cool before beginning.

Step 2: Vacuum and wipe the exterior 

Next, use a vacuum cleaner on a low setting to remove any visible dust or dirt from the outside of the space heater. Then, use a damp microfiber cloth to wipe the space heater’s exterior from top to bottom. Ensure that you really squeeze all of the moisture out so it doesn't drip into the appliance and ruin it.

Step 3: Unscrew the heater’s cover 

Most space heaters have covers for safety reasons, so to clean the interior of the heater you will need to unscrew and remove the cover. 

Step 4: Vacuum any dust and dirt  

Add the brush head attachment to your vacuum cleaner and turn it onto low, and then use the vacuum to suck up any dust and dirt from the inside of the space heater. Just make sure to be very gentle when vacuuming, so that you don’t disturb any of the wires within the heater. 

Step 5: Clean the fan  

If your space heater features a fan, after vacuuming use a damp microfiber cloth to wipe over the fan blades, removing any leftover dust or dirt, and then allow to air dry. 

Step 6: Put the fan back together 

Once the fan is clean and dry, you can replace the fan cover and set the fan up again to use. Use a dry cloth to clean up any moisture that may be remaining anywhere on the heater.


How do I get the musty smell out of my space heater?

If you’ve noticed that your space heater smells musty, that’s a sign that it’s time to give it a clean. The best way to remove the musty smell is to give your heater a thorough clean, following the steps above. 

Do space heaters have a filter?

Yes, most space heaters have air filters, and these often become clogged with dust and dirt when not cleaned regularly. If you have a reusable filter in your heater, you'll want to clean it at least once every season (depending on how frequently you use your heater). If you have single-use filters, check the manual to see how often they should be changed.

Is it safe to clean a space heater?

As long as you allow it to cool and unplug the heater beforehand, cleaning a space heater is safe to do. Just make sure to read the manufacturer’s care instructions before you take the fan apart or begin the cleaning process. 

Beth Mahoney
Staff Writer

Hi! I’m Beth Mahoney and I’m a Staff Writer at Real Homes. I’ve been a journalist for the national press for the past six years, specializing in commerce and trends-related lifestyle articles, from product reviews and listicles to guides and features. With an eye for pretty things (think: quirky wall prints, scalloped edge furniture, and decadent-looking tableware) but a limited budget, I love nothing more than a bargain buy.