Whether your range hood is tucked away out of sight or is a focal point of your kitchen design, these functional additions need cleaning all the same.
When cleaning a kitchen, it is essential to get into the nooks and crannies of your range hood to keep it working, looking, and smelling its best. Fail to do so, and greasy build-ups could lead to an expensive servicing bill or having to replace it, experts warn.
Here, Shirley Hood, appliance expert at Abt Electronics, explains how to clean a kitchen range hood thoroughly, and why it is so important.
Shirley Hood is an appliance expert and sales specialist at Abt Appliances, Illinois. Each member of the Abt service team is recognized by the store's manufacturers as having superior repair knowledge and skills.
How to clean a range hood
It can be easy to forget about cleaning a range hood when cleaning stove burners or cleaning an oven in your kitchen, but keeping this high-traffic area in good condition can make a big difference to your home cooking experience.
- Baking soda – large quantities for cleaning are available at Amazon
- Dish soap – such as Dawn available at Walmart
- A kitchen degreaser – also available at Walmart
- A microfiber cloth – such as these from Amazon
- Optionally: Dishwashing detergent – such as this at Walmart
How to clean range hood filters and interior
Arguably the most important part of your range hood is the filters. These help to stop food particles, debris like dust, and kitchen grease from escaping up the HVAC system and becoming a fire hazard. These are some of the dirty hidden areas of the kitchen we forget to clean, but keeping them in top condition helps to filter your air more efficiently.
‘Every manufacturer is different with different removable parts so you should always follow their guidelines for cleaning your specific model,’ begins Shirley Hood, appliance expert. ‘A general rule of thumb would be to remove and soak the filter/baffles in hot water for 15 to 30 minutes with some degreasing dish soap, baking soda, or an over-the-counter degreaser that is safe to use on stainless steel surfaces, such as Bar Keepers Friend, at Amazon.’ It may help to use a gentle scrubbing brush, like this eco-friendly option from Walmart to encourage grease away from the filter surfaces and leave them sparkling.
‘If grease deposits are really caked on you can soak your filters in boiling hot water with dish soap and baking soda overnight to help loosen the gunk build-up. Some filters/baffles are dishwasher-safe so you can just pop them in the dishwasher,’ Shirley adds.
While the filters are soaking in the sink, carefully clean the interior of the range hood where important mechanisms sit. ‘When cleaning the interior of your range hood, avoid spraying any cleaning solution directly onto the surfaces and components,’ she warns. Instead, Shirley suggests spraying some kitchen degreaser onto a soft microfiber cloth, at Amazon, and wiping down any flat surfaces. Avoid putting pressure on any wiring components or fans to prevent them from getting damaged.
'You can also use a vacuum cleaner with a brush attachment to remove any loose debris from the blades and motor,' adds Annie Morris, property management expert and editor at Made in CA.
How to clean the exterior of a range hood
‘Cleaning the exterior (including the chimney if applicable) is something I recommend you do more often than not,’ Shirley continues. Although you may think of the exterior as purely decorative, cleaning kitchen grease off of the surface can help get rid of odd kitchen smells and prevent staining over time.
‘You can use any over-the-counter degreaser that's safe to use on stainless steel (just spray and wipe) or any dishwashing detergent with a degreaser,’ Shirley recommends. ‘Just fill a spray bottle with a pump or two of detergent and fill it with warm water, spray the solution of soap and water directly on the exterior of your hood and wipe it down with a microfiber cloth. To help keep your hood looking clean you can use stainless steel wipes, at Amazon, daily to help prevent grease build-up,’ she adds.
When spraying any solution directly onto a wall-mounted appliance, make sure there are no utensils, pots, or pans directly beneath to prevent chemicals or grease from dripping down onto them. A top cleaning tip is to clean from top to bottom, starting with the range hood before cleaning the kitchen counters and the stove to prevent muddying your hard work.
Why cleaning a range hood is important
‘Have you actually looked at how filthy your hood gets? Vent hoods are designed to ventilate your kitchen and remove smoke, steam, odors, and heat as well as trap grease so that it doesn't build up on your kitchen cabinets, walls, and appliances. If you use your vent hood but don't clean the filters/baffles, dirt, grease, and odors will build up on the filter, making it less effective,’ Shirley Hood, appliance expert explains.
‘These deposits also build up on the surrounding surfaces of the hood including your walls and kitchen cabinets. Over time you will notice a greasy yellowish film on your hood, backsplash, and cabinets that's almost impossible to remove. You may also notice a strong odor every time you turn on your hood that doesn't dissipate unless you open your kitchen windows.
'The bottom line is that regular or periodic cleaning will help prevent build-up and keep your hood running at peak performance,’ Shirley affirms.
How often to clean a range hood
How often should you clean a kitchen is a common question, but the answer often depends on how often and how you use the space.
'In general, it is recommended to clean your kitchen extractor fan at least once every six months,' recommends Annie Morris, 'as grease and other food particles can build up on the blades and motor, potentially leading to issues with performance and efficiency. However, this frequency may vary based on the amount of cooking that takes place in your kitchen, so it is important to keep an eye on the build-up and clean the fan as needed,' she adds.
‘You should always follow the manufacturer's guidelines but really it depends on how often you are using it and the type of food you cook,’ Shirley Hood continues. ‘An example of this would be if you cook daily, several times a day and your cooking consists of a lot of sauteing, frying, or extremely fragrant dishes you should thoroughly clean your hood at least once every month or sooner,’ she recommends.
Mesh filters/baffles should be cleaned at least a couple of times a week. If you cook daily but only occasionally cook greasy or highly fragrant dishes, a thorough cleaning once a month and a minimum of weekly mesh filter/baffle cleanings will keep your hood looking good.
‘If you don't cook often and rarely use your hood you can go longer without doing a thorough cleaning but should still clean the filters periodically. If you are seeing build-up on the exterior of your hood, however, then cleaning kitchen cabinets surrounding your stove weekly with wipes will prevent permanent discoloration. Over time you will be glad that you did!’
When to call a professional to service a range hood
Just because your range hood is making noise when you turn it on doesn't mean that it is effectively extracting contaminants from your kitchen. An easy way to test if your range hood is working effectively is to hold a piece of kitchen paper to the filter – if, when switched on, the paper holds its place when you let go then your vent is in perfect working condition. If it falls, then it may be in need of a professional service.
'If you are not comfortable with cleaning your kitchen extractor fan yourself, or if the fan has become particularly dirty or clogged, it may be a good idea to have a professional kitchen fan service to clean and maintain the fan for you,' Annie Morris of Made in CA adds. 'This can help to ensure that the fan is cleaned thoroughly and that any potential issues are identified and addressed before they become bigger problems. The frequency of these services will depend on the amount of use and the level of grease build-up in your kitchen.'
How do you get baked on grease off a range hood?
If you are dealing with tough, baked-on grease on a kitchen range hood, then using a vinegar solution could help to lift it away. Combine equal parts white vinegar and distilled water with a tablespoon or two of baking soda and allow the solution to sit on the stain. After a while, use a cloth to scrub the mark until it comes clean off.
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Chiana has been at Homes & Gardens for a year, having started her journey in interior journalism as part of the graduate program. She spends most of her time producing content for the Solved section of the website, helping readers get the most out of their homes through clever decluttering, cleaning, and tidying tips – many of which she tests and reviews herself in her home in Lancaster to ensure they will consistently deliver for her readers and dabbles in the latest design trends. She also has a first-class degree in Literature from Lancaster University.
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