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 Venetian plaster or painted boards or rustic barn wood facade 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

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, 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 to 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.

Tips

It is time to clean your range hood if:

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.

What You Need

Supplies

  • Baking soda
  • Degreasing dishwashing liquid
  • Boiling water

Tools

  • Soft nylon-bristled brush

How to Clean a Range Hood Filter

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

  1. Remove the Filter

    To remove a reusable filter, either slide it out or find the latch that you use to pop it out.

  2. Prepare the Cleaning Solution

    Fill a sink with boiling water. If the sink isn't available, use a large pot or glass baking dish that is heatproof. Add one to two tablespoons of dishwashing liquid 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 are plenty of opportunities for food splashes.

What You Need

Supplies

  • Spray-on degreaser
  • Paper towels or cleaning rags

Tools

  • Soft-bristled brush
  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 nylon-bristled brush and scrub those areas. Finish by wiping away any remaining residue.

  3. Rinse Well

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

How to Clean the Exterior Hood 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 a 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.