How to clean a greasy range hood

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Q: How do I clean my greasy cooker hood?

A: Range hoods are designed to capture grease, smoke, and other airborne pollutants caused by cooking, but they can’t remove grime. At some point, grease (and splatters that escape capture) need to be cleaned up.

Cleaning the hood itself is a challenge. Unlike filters, which can be removed for cleaning or replacement, the housing must be cleaned in place. If you like to do the worst of a job first, start by tackling the surface directly above the stove. This area is the hardest to clean because it’s hard to get to, but a stepladder can help.

Remove the filter(s), which may involve pushing them up, so you can tilt them enough to pass the ledges where they sit. With the filters out, look into the space where the fan is running. Although there are YouTube videos showing how to remove the blades to clean them (after unplugging the unit), the cleaning instructions that come with the range hoods don’t suggest doing so.

Dorian Olsen, who manages the technical services line for the Viking Range Corporation, said to eliminate any grease you see. “If the filters are cleaned regularly, there shouldn’t be many,” he said. If you see a lot of grease buildup, call a professional duct cleaning service or a company that services appliances and have someone check the fan housing and the duct to the outside.

Generally, the innards of the fan do not need attention and you can concentrate on cleaning the hood and its cover, starting with the areas around the filters. Dip a cloth or sponge in warm water mixed with a little washing-up liquid by hand. Wring out the cloth or sponge enough so that it does not run. Wipe one area, fold the cloth or rotate the sponge, then wipe the next area. Rinse and repeat as needed. You should also wipe along the edges where the filters are. (For the corners, use an old toothbrush.)

If the warm, soapy water won’t go through the grease, put on rubber gloves and add baking soda or vinegar to the water. For particularly stubborn deposits, use a degreaser, such as Formula 409 cleaner or Simple Green, Olsen said.

If your hood is painted, be sure not to use anything abrasive, he says. Stainless steel hoods aren’t as soft, but if you rub with something abrasive in a direction that doesn’t match how the stainless steel was finished, you’ll see scratches. And avoid using anything with chlorine, which can damage the protective layer of stainless steel.

Once the grease has been removed, go over the surfaces with a cloth or sponge soaked in clean water, then wipe with a soft cloth. Next, turn your attention to the exterior surfaces of the hood. Clean them the same way, starting at the top and working your way down, so you don’t drool over an area you just cleaned. The grime mostly collects on the hood, not the chimney section, so if you clean frequently you may be able to focus on the sloping surfaces and ignore the vertical parts most of the time.

If you have a stainless steel hood and it still looks streaky after being rinsed and dried, Olsen suggests spraying WD-40 on a rag and buffing it with it. Or you can use a stainless steel cleaner and polish, which probably contains oil. A thin coat of oil will keep stainless steel looking pristine, but be aware that an oily surface will collect dirt and grease, so you may need to clean more frequently.

Besides cleaning the hood, you also need to take care of the filters. Range hoods that exhaust to the outside have filters that can be washed and reused. There are two basic types: baffle and mesh. The baffle style, made of stainless steel, has two layers of three-sided channels that run horizontally but with the tops of the channels facing in opposite directions. The upper layer, with the peaks pointing upwards, changes the direction of the airflow, causing fat to settle, while the lower layer, with the peaks pointing downwards, collects this grease. Mesh filters are often made of aluminum and rely on their fine filaments to trap grease.

The easiest way to clean stainless steel filters is to run them through a cycle in the dishwasher. Aluminum filters can also be safely cleaned in a dishwasher, but some dishwasher detergents are quite alkaline and can eat away at aluminum. Julie Nelson, who answers tech support questions for Broan, a range hood maker, said she would clean an aluminum strainer in the sink with hot water and hand dishwashing detergent, such as dawn. Letting the filter soak usually makes the grease soft enough to rinse away — unless there’s been years of accumulated grease, she said. In this case, she would replace the filters.

Range hoods that are not vented to the outdoors usually have filters with a wire mesh on the side that faces the stove, topped with a charcoal pad. Sometimes the layers are grouped together; with other filters, the layers are separated. Since you can’t clean charcoal, if your range hood uses single-unit filters, you’ll need to periodically replace them. If the mesh is separated, you can wash it and replace the charcoal layer.

Some hoods have indicator lights to signal when the filters need to be changed. Otherwise, a calendar might be your best guide. Nelson said Broan recommends replacing filters in ductless hoods every five months, but some Broan product publications suggest three to six months. Bosch, which has split-layer filters for at least some of its range hoods, suggests replacing the carbon filter when it becomes visibly dirty or every six to 12 months, depending on use. But the literature for a model hood with sensors indicates that the “cleaning time” light will come on for the grease filter after 30 hours of use and the “replace time” light will come on for the grease filter. charcoal after 120 hours of use. .

In the end, the timing really depends on how often you cook and if you do a lot of frying.

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