How to Clean a Kitchen Range Hood and Filter Properly

Wooden range hood next to white cabinets with a small white tiled backsplash

The Spruce / Sarah Lee

Project Overview
  • Working Time: 20 mins
  • Total Time: 50 mins
  • Skill Level: Beginner

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.

Tips

An excellent way to test if your vent is working properly is to hold a piece of newspaper over the vent. The vent is working if the paper is sucked up and held in place.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Soft nylon-bristled brush
  • Sink or large metal or glass basin

Materials

  • Baking soda
  • Degreasing dish soap
  • Boiling water
  • Spray-on degreaser or DIY vinegar solution
  • Paper towels or cleaning rags

Instructions

How to Clean a Range Hood Filter

Materials and tools to clean a range hood filter on kitchen countertop

The Spruce / Sarah Lee

  1. Remove the Filter

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

    Range hood filter being removed by hand

    The Spruce / Sarah Lee

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

    Blue dishwashing liquid and baking soda solution in white mixing spoon for cleaning range hood filter

    The Spruce / Sarah Lee

  3. 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.

    Range hood filter soaked in sink with soapy cleaning solution and water

    The Spruce / Sarah Lee

  4. 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.

    Small wooden scrub brush rubbing cleaning solution into range hood filter

    The Spruce / Sarah Lee

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

Paper towel roll, scrubbing brush and bottle of heavy duty degreaser to clean exterior and interior of range hood

The Spruce / Sarah Lee

  1. 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.

    Heavy duty degreaser sprayed on the underside of the range hood

    The Spruce / Sarah Lee

  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.

    Paper towel wiping off degreaser and grime from underside of range hood

    The Spruce / Sarah Lee

  3. Rinse Well

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

    Blue cloth soaked in plain water wiping off interior of range hood

    The Spruce / Sarah Lee

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.

Warning

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.

Article Sources
The Spruce uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Cooking fires in residential buildings (2017 to 2019). U.S. Fire Administration.