How to Clean a Portable Heater? Step by Step Guide

Portable heaters are great whenever you need something simple to use, efficient, and affordable to keep you warm during the colder seasons. But, like any household appliance, a portable heater also needs to be cleaned regularly because dust and dirt will eventually build up. So, how do you clean a portable heater?

When cleaning your portable heater, you need to follow safety precautions. After doing so, clean the surface of the heater before you try to clean the inside. You can now open the portable heater so that you can clean the interior using a vacuum and a damp sponge. Let it dry before turning it on.

Cleaning a portable heater is an essential part of maintaining it. Cleaning is more than just pure aesthetics; it also involves improving the portable heater’s lifespan while ensuring that no harmful dirt or bacteria will build up inside the portable heater. For this reason, there is a need for you to learn how to clean a portable heater properly.

Is A Dusty Heater Dangerous?

At this point, you might be asking yourself why you would need to clean your portable heater. You probably think that cleaning it will only take up some of your time and will be a lot of work, especially if you are busy and do not have a lot of time.

In that sense, whatever the reason is for you to clean a portable heater should be convincing enough for you to take some time for it.

So, concerning that, probably the most important reason you need to clean your portable heater is that it can be pretty dangerous if you leave it dusty and dirty for a very long time.

But why is a dusty heater dangerous? Well, if you leave anything on its own for an extended time, it will eventually collect dust not only on the surface level but also on the inside.

The grills and internal layers, and components found in your portable heater will eventually collect a lot of dust, and you will end up with a heater that does not only look bad but can also be a potential hazard to the entire household.

When dust begins to settle and block your portable heater’s different internal components, it becomes more challenging to stay cool as the dust settles in the areas and spaces made for air to pass through. 

It’s similar to how your air-conditioner also needs regular cleaning because dust can settle in the areas where the air is filtered.

You may have noticed that an air-conditioner that has been left dirty for a very long time will not operate as efficiently as it should in the sense that it won’t be as cool as it should be. In most cases, it would end up overheating just as quickly as well. 

In that sense, a portable heater is just the same. When the dust and dirt start to build up in the areas where the air is filtered out, your portable heater will most likely overheat fast.

This buildup can be dangerous because of how much heat portable heaters tend to produce. There have been cases in the news where portable heaters that were left unattended or were allowed to operate at really high temperatures have ended up causing fires.

How To Clean A Portable Heater? Step By Step Guide

So, now that you know that there is a need for you to clean your portable heater, here is the step by step guide that you should follow to clean it properly:

1. Safety First

It’s always essential to ensure that you are safe before you clean your portable heater because of the electric components that might harm you. Of course, a heater can burn you if you don’t follow the necessary safety procedures.

Wear A Mask

That said, the first thing you might want to do is to wear a mask. You need to wear a mask because the dust particles and the dirt coming from the dirty portable heater might cause breathing problems when breathed into your system. Nobody wants that to happen.

Unplug The Unit

After that, turn the portable heater off and unplug it from the outlet. Allow it to cool down before you try touching it ultimately, or else you might burn yourself.

Unplugging your heater is the most crucial part of keeping yourself safe while cleaning a portable heater because the electrical components might have residual charges that can shock you. Of course, a portable heater that you just turned off can still be pretty hot.

2. Clean The Exterior

Before you get to the interior, it is crucial that you first clean what is on the outside. The casing of your portable heater will be the first to attract dust and dirt before they get inside the heater. So, that means that there should be a lot of dust and dirt buildup on the outside. 

Dust the casing first by vacuuming it out. Once you are finished with that, you’ll want a damp paper towel or cloth so that you can thoroughly remove any dust that has accumulated on the surface.

But if there are pesky stains that you want to remove, use a small amount of soap and water so that you can get rid of them in a thorough but gentle manner.

We suggest using soap and water instead of chemical products because such products might have toxic and flammable substances that will linger and burn up later when you turn your portable heater on.

3. Open The Portable Heater Then Clean The Inside

After cleaning the outside case, it is now time to disassemble the portable heater’s exterior by removing the casing. Different portable heaters are made differently, and that is why you should refer to your owner’s manual to find out how to remove the case of your portable heater.

It’s usually held together by screws so that you might need a screwdriver of the appropriate size for that. You may even have to remove the thermostat for safety reasons.

Once you have removed your portable heater’s case, use a vacuum to dust everything off. Use a small nozzle so that you won’t end up sucking up parts and components that are important and so that you can reach the small nooks and crannies inside your portable heater. Afterward, use a slightly damp paper towel or cloth to clean the interior thoroughly.

We cannot stress the importance of not getting the internal components of your portable heater wet. Wet electric heaters can take days for them to completely dry and be safe to use.

Do not try to touch any wiring in the portable heater because the wires may be so sensitive that even the slightest touch can damage them or distort the way your mobile heater functions. Just clean the interior as gently as you can.

4. Let It Dry Off & Put It Back Together

After cleaning your portable heater’s interior, make sure that you give it a moment to air out. You will need the moisture from the damp cloth and paper towel to dry out completely.

If you put the portable heater’s case back on without airing it out, there is a chance that all of that excess moisture will have nowhere to go, and mold will begin to form inside the portable heater, which is why you have to air it out before putting the case back on.

Once the portable heater is completely dry, place the cover back on it. Don’t try to turn it on just yet, and give it a few hours or days to rest and dry before you connect it to the socket once again. After that, you are now safe to use your portable heater once again.


It is relatively easy to clean your portable heater without professional help. As long as you take the safety precautions required and ensure everything is nice and dry at the end, you should have no issues.


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Hubert Miles

I've been conducting home inspections for 17 years. I'm a licensed Home Inspector, Certified Master Inspector (CMI), and FHA 203k Consultant. I started to help people better understand the home inspection process and answer questions about homeownership and home maintenance.
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