How to Clean a Kitchen Range Hood and Filter

Stainless steel range hood in a modern kitchen

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As kitchen design has changed, the range hood has taken on more prominence as a focal point in the space. Soaring hood covers are fashioned out of every type of metal from stainless steel to bronze to copper. Others are custom built with a finish that can be Venetian plaster or painted boards or rustic barn wood depending on the kitchen's decor.

While a beautiful hood cover captures the eye, the more important element is the functional parts hidden underneath: the circulating fan, filter, and venting ductwork. Whether you have a statement hood cover or a simple metal vent mounted under a cabinet or a combination vent and microwave unit, it is vitally important to both use it and keep it clean.

How Often to Clean a Kitchen Range Hood

So, you've been using your range hood religiously to draw out all of those grease and food particles. That means it needs to be cleaned.

If you cook daily, the inside and outside of the hood and the filter should be cleaned monthly. If you aren't a frequent chef, a seasonal cleaning will be sufficient. Always plan to clean the filter after preparing a holiday feast even if you don't clean the rest of the hood.

As the fan and suction draw the grease and food particulates up into the ductwork, they naturally cling to the surfaces. Cleaning is essential to not only make the hood look and smell better, but it can also prevent a house fire. According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), cooking is the leading cause of injuries in residential fires and the fourth leading cause after carelessness, smoking, and electrical problems of all residential fires. The statistics are even more dramatic for commercial kitchens. When a pot or pan is left on the stovetop for too long, flames can appear and may leap up into a greasy range hood causing extensive structural damage.

How to Determine if the Range Hood Is Not Working

There are three signs that indicate the range hood is not working properly. If you recognize any of these problems, it is time for a cleaning, repair, or replacement.

  1. The hood does not clear smoke from the room even on the highest setting. This could mean the filter or ductwork is clogged with grease and needs cleaning or that the motor is causing the fan to malfunction.
  2. The motor is very loud or hums constantly. Abnormally loud or unusual sounds indicate the motor is working too hard. It may just need to be cleaned to prevent rubbing or grinding or it may need to be replaced.
  3. The lights or setting switches don't work properly. It could be as simple as the light bulb is burned out or it could be an issue with the electrical system that should be checked by a professional.

What You Need

Supplies

  • Baking soda
  • Degreasing dishwashing soap
  • Soft-bristled brush
  • Boiling water

How to Clean a Range Hood

Every type of range hood has a filter that fits over the fan and helps to catch grease and food before it enters the ductwork. Most are metal that can be cleaned and reused for many years while some are charcoal filters that are disposable. Check your manufacturer for instructions. Luckily, cleaning the hood filter is the easiest part of the job. You don't even need harsh chemicals.

  1. Remove the Filter

    Start by removing the reusable filter. Most either slide out or have a latch that you use to pop it out. Fill a sink with boiling hot water. If the sink isn't available, use a large pot or glass baking dish that is heatproof.

  2. Prepare the Cleaning Solution

    Add one to two tablespoons of dishwashing soap to the water. Be sure that the dishwashing soap label states that it contains a degreaser. Add one-half cup baking soda and mix the solution well.

  3. Soak the Filter

    Submerge the filter into the solution and let it soak for at least fifteen minutes. No need to scrub now, let the cleaners do the heavy-lifting! If you get distracted, try to remove it before the water cools completely and the grease resettles on the filter.

  4. Scrub the Filter and Rinse

Next, use the scrub brush to remove any grease or food particles that are still clinging to the filter. Rinse well with hot water and dry completely before placing back in the range hood.

How to Clean the Interior and Exterior Surfaces of a Range Hood

Just as the filter needs regular cleaning, the interior surfaces must also be monitored for grease and grime. Since ideally a hood should be mounted just 24 to 30-inches above the stovetop burners, there is plenty of opportunity for food splashes.

Supplies You Need

  • Spray-on degreaser
  • Soft-bristled brush
  • Paper towels or cleaning rags
  1. Apply the Degreaser

    Making sure that the stovetop is clear of any utensils (you may get drips), spray on the degreaser. Allow it to work for at least fifteen minutes.

  2. Wipe Away Degreaser

    Use paper towels to wipe away the cleaner and the grime. If any particles are left, spritz a bit of degreaser on a brush and give those areas a scrub.

  3. Rinse

Finish by wipe away any remaining residue. Finally, dip a clean paper towel or cloth in plain warm water and rinse the interior to remove any remaining cleaner.

What You Need to Clean the Exterior Surfaces

Cleaning the exterior surface is completely dependent upon the type of material used for the hood. Most under-the-cabinet hoods or mounted microwaves with a vent are either stainless steel or painted metal. Use a degreasing cleaning product recommended for those finishes and soft cloth to remove the grease. To prevent streaks on stainless steel, use a drop or two of olive oil on a microfiber cloth for a final polish.

Large decorative hoods should be dusted weekly and cleaned monthly to maintain their beauty. Follow the builder or manufacturer's guidelines for different types of finishes. Copper and brass metal hoods can be highly polished or allowed to develop an aged patina.

Why Install and Use a Range Vent Hood in the Kitchen?

Each time food is cooked on a stovetop, small particulates of water, oil, and food escape into the air. If the food is heated to a high temperature, smoke and ash can be added into the mix. Without a range vent hood, the particulates are drawn into our lungs or settle on the walls and every surface in our kitchen and eventually other parts of the house.

If you use a gas stove for food preparation, the combustion produces carbon dioxide and water. If the combustion isn't complete, nitrogen dioxide is produced which has proven to be an irritant to respiratory systems especially for those with asthma or compromised systems.

A range hood will also lower the kitchen temperature while cooking reducing the load on your central air conditioner. Most range hoods have built-in lighting to assist you while cooking and cleaning. That directed light can help insure that burner and oven dials are set correctly.

If you are building a new home or renovating an older home, a range hood will increase the property value of your home. When selling a home, an odor-free, clean kitchen is much more appealing to buyers.

Now that you know why you should have a range hood, remember, a range hood should be used every time the stovetop is turned on.