How to Remove Grease From Metal for Guaranteed Results

Vinegar Is Surprisingly a Powerful Degreaser

vinegar as an inexpensive grease cleaner

The Spruce / Letícia Almeida

Grease buildup on a metal stove or other surface can be a bear to remove—unless you're using the right cleaner. While there are commercial cleaners available, you might already have exactly what you need in your pantry: vinegar. Here's how to remove grease from metal using vinegar.

  1. Put on rubber gloves to protect your hands.
  2. Use a paper towel to soak up as much of the grease as possible.
  3. Soak a sponge or rag in vinegar, and use it to wipe down the greasy surface.
  4. Repeat as needed with more vinegar on a clean sponge or rag to remove stubborn grease.
  5. Rinse with clean water.

If you don't like the smell of undiluted vinegar, you can dilute it to 2 parts water and 1 part vinegar. You also can add a few drops of essential oil or lemon juice to improve the scent.

Why Vinegar Works as a Grease Remover

The acetic acid in vinegar eats through grease, saving you scrubbing time and frustration. There are also several other benefits to using vinegar, including:

  • Inexpensive: Vinegar is very cheap, and you typically don't need to use much to clean up a grease spot.
  • No harsh chemicals or fumes: While vinegar does have a sharp odor, it's still something that people can enjoy in many recipes. So you don't have to fear inhaling it when it's used for cleaning purposes unlike some commercial cleaners.
  • No perfumes or artificial scents: If you or your household members are sensitive to perfumes, cleaning with vinegar can be a good option. You will avoid the artificial scent added to many commercial cleaning products.
  • Safe for most nonporous surfaces: You can clean metal and glass surfaces, as well as many sealed countertops, with vinegar.
  • Safe for use around pets and kids: While you don't want them splashing vinegar in their eyes, you don't have to worry about pets and kids touching or licking a surface that was just cleaned with vinegar. It's safe on your salad, so it's safe on tongues and fingers.
  • Saves space in your cupboards: You don't need to store special-purpose cleaning chemicals. You can use the same bottle of vinegar to make salad dressing or for cleaning. That said, once you begin to explore everything you can clean with vinegar, you might be buying it by the gallon rather than the pint.

Tip

Besides vinegar, there are other household items that can be used as degreasers. Grease-cutting dish soap is a great option. Simply apply it directly to the greasy spot, and then rub it with a cloth or sponge before rinsing. You also can apply a bit of rubbing alcohol to a cloth, buff the greasy spot, and then rinse.

Warnings and Precautions

  • Avoid using vinegar on marble, wood, and porous tile, as the acid can damage these materials. Likewise, don't leave a puddle of vinegar on any surface for a long period.
  • Test a bit of vinegar on a small, inconspicuous area before using it liberally. If the surface isn't fully sealed, you might see an effect. And it's better to mar only a tiny area than to clean the whole surface and then discover there is a problem.
  • As with any cleaner, avoid all contact with the eyes and prolonged contact with the skin. While vinegar is safe when you eat it, the acid in it can be an irritant to sensitive areas.