Range hoods are usually a focal point in kitchen spaces, coming in many designs and types. The functional elements of a range hood are its circulating fan, filter, and venting ductwork. It's the range hood's job to trap grease and smoke. Whether you have a statement hood cover, a simple metal vent mounted under a cabinet, or a combination vent and microwave unit, it is essential to use it and keep it clean.
As the fan and suction draw the grease and food particulates into the ductwork, they naturally cling to the surfaces. Hood filters also help keep air ducts, kitchen exhausts, and a home's HVAC system running more efficiently. Just as the filter needs regular cleaning, you must also monitor the interior surfaces for grease and grime. In most cases, a hood is mounted about 24 to 30 inches above the stovetop burners, which means it's prone to food splashes and grease buildup.
According to the U.S. Fire Administration, run by Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), cooking is the leading cause of residential fires and injuries from those fires. When a pot or pan is left on the stovetop for too long, flames can column upward into a greasy range hood, causing extensive structural damage. Cleaning is essential to make the hood look and smell better and prevent a house fire.
How Often to Clean a Kitchen Range Hood
If you cook daily, you should clean the inside and outside of the hood and the filter monthly. If you aren't a frequent chef, seasonal cleaning will be sufficient. Always clean the filter after preparing a holiday feast, even if you don't clean the rest of the hood.
A sign that it's time to clean the hood is if smoke doesn't clear from the room, even on the highest setting. This malfunction could mean the filter or ductwork is clogged with grease and needs cleaning. Another indicator that you must clean the hood is if the motor is humming loudly or constantly. A loud motor indicates it's working harder than usual. The motor or fan may need cleaning to get it running correctly.
Equipment / Tools
- Soft nylon-bristled brush
- Sink or large metal or glass basin
- Baking soda
- Degreasing dish soap
- Boiling water
- Spray-on degreaser or DIY vinegar solution
- Paper towels or cleaning rags
How to Clean a Range Hood Filter
Remove the Filter
To remove a reusable filter, either slide it out or find the latch you use to pop it out.
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. Add one-half cup baking soda and mix the solution well. Be sure that the dishwashing soap label states that it contains a degreaser.
Soak the Filter
Submerge the filter into the solution and let it soak for at least 15 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 entirely and the grease resettles on the filter.
Scrub the Filter and Rinse
Next, use the scrub brush to remove grease or food particles still clinging to the filter. Rinse well with hot water and dry thoroughly before placing back in the range hood.
How to Clean the Interior and Exterior Surfaces of a Range Hood
Apply the Degreaser
Make sure the stovetop is clear of any utensils (you may get drips), and spray on the degreaser or a homemade vinegar solution. Allow it to work for at least 15 minutes.
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.
Finally, dip a clean paper towel or cloth in warm water and rinse the interior to remove any remaining cleaner.
Tips to Keep a Kitchen Range Hood Clean Longer
Every type of range hood has a filter that fits over the fan and helps catch grease and food before entering the ductwork. Most are metal that can be cleaned and reused for many years, while some are disposable charcoal filters. Cleaning the filter is the easiest part of the job and doesn't require harsh chemicals. Check the manufacturer instructions.
Cleaning the exterior surface depends on 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 beauty. Copper and brass metal hoods can be highly polished or allowed to develop an aged patina. Follow the builder or manufacturer's guidelines for different types of finishes.
How to Clean Interior or Exterior of Hood With a Homemade Degreaser Solution
You can remedy grease buildup on the hood with a commercial degreaser, a rag soaked with undiluted vinegar, or a spray of half vinegar and half water solution. Vinegar is composed of 95% water and 5% acetic acid. This mild acid is strong enough to cut through grease and has no harsh fumes or chemicals. It doesn't smell nice at first, but the scent dissipates after a few minutes.
Avoid using vinegar on marble, granite, wood finishes, and porous tile. Acetic acid can corrode and remove the shine from hard surfaces and finishes.
When to Call a Professional
If the vent fan is not working—and you have no idea why—it's time to call a repair professional. Before you make the call, try to clean the interior parts, including the motor and fan, and if you notice the ventilation is not working, or a loud sound lingers, the fan may be malfunctioning. The motor might need to be cleaned to prevent rubbing or grinding.
If a motor needs replacement, it can cost about $100 to replace. However, if the whole assembly needs replacement, it can average about $500—more or less, depending on the model and your region.
Another indicator that you need to call a repair professional is if the lights or buttons are not working. It can be an electrical wiring problem requiring an electrician or service professional to diagnose and fix it.
Cooking fires in residential buildings (2017 to 2019). U.S. Fire Administration.