A range hood is a great way to protect your home from the excess heat and moisture of cooking.
In addition, a range hood exhausts food smells out of the house, keeping your indoor air clean and fresh.
By exhausting airborne smoke and grease, range hoods help make kitchen cleaning tasks more manageable, and yet they sometimes need to be cleaned themselves.
Today we are looking at how to properly clean and maintain a range hood to get the most out of it for years to come.
Let's dive right in!
How you clean your range hood depends to some degree on which type of range hood you have.
There are two significant ways that range hoods are classified.
Ducted Range Hood
In this style, the air is drawn into the range hood and exhausted outdoors through a duct system.
These are the preferred style for indoor air cleanliness, as they are more efficient at removing cooking grease, smoke, odors, and particles from the air and sending it outside.
However, they are generally more difficult and expensive to install, and some buildings (like apartments and condominiums) have restrictions on when and how exterior vents can be added.
Recirculating Range Hood
In this style, the air is drawn into the range hood and filtered before being returned to the kitchen.
These systems remove dust and particles from the air but do return heat and moisture back into the kitchen, so they are less effective.
But they are more accessible, more versatile, and less expensive to install.
Ceiling Mount Range Hood
These range hoods are installed in the ceiling (as the name implies) typically over an island or peninsula with a cooktop.
These can be difficult to install, but provide excellent ventilation for the whole room.
Wall Mount Range Hood
These range hoods (also called ‘chimney style’) are installed on a wall when the cooktop is located against a wall.
While these offer excellent ventilation for the stove area, this kind of installation requires the sacrifice of upper cabinets and kitchen storage.
Undercabinet Range Hoods
Undercabinet range hoods (and combination devices like microwave ovens with ventilation features, designed to be installed over a cooktop), are the least efficient range hoods in terms of ventilation.
But they do provide some air circulation while being less expensive to purchase and install and allow you to use the space over the stove for cabinets or a microwave oven.
Each installation type can be done with either ventilation type, depending on your needs and budget.
And each type has advantages and drawbacks and will work better in certain types of kitchens. But each has slightly different cleaning and maintenance requirements.
Some modern range hoods have automatic alerts that signal that the hood needs cleaning, or that the air filter needs replacing.
If your range hood has an automated notification system, then follow the manufacturer's recommendations.
If your range hood doesn't have an automated system, then it should be cleaned about once a month, and air filters replaced once or twice a year.
However, if you do a lot of stovetop frying with oil and grease, you may need to clean the range hood more often.
A dirty range hood is a fire hazard, so it should be cleaned regularly.
How to Clean a Range Hood
Cleaning a range hood can be a slightly unpleasant task, as it can be greasy.
It's another reason to do it more often, rather than less, to keep it from being such a messy chore.
A range hood usually has two filters; a grease filter and an air filter, both of which need regular maintenance. And the body of the hood itself also needs to be cleaned.
Here is What You Will Need to Clean Your Range Hood Grease Filter
- Gloves to protect your hands from dirt and grease
- Hot water
- Degreasing soap (like strong dish soap)
- Baking soda
- Non-abrasive scrubbing brush
- Dishcloth or paper towels
Some of the grease filters in range hoods are dishwasher safe, assuming your dishwasher is large enough to accommodate it.
If the grease filter is made of aluminum, it will be corroded by dishwasher detergent. If it is made of stainless steel, it can be put in the dishwasher.
However, if it is particularly dirty or greasy, it is better to clean it by hand first and finish it in the dishwasher.
To Clean the Grease FilterSoak first
Fill a bucket or your sink with hot, soapy water, and add a ¼ cup of baking soda to the water.
Using your gloves, remove the grease filter from the range hood following the manufacturer's instructions.
Generally, it will just click or slide out when moved the right way.
Submerge the grease filter in hot water and baking soda. Agitate the water with the filter for a minute to allow the soapy water and baking soda to penetrate.
Soak the filter in hot water. Allow it to soak for 10 – 15 minutes.
Use a scrub brush to scrub the filter gently. Add more soap if necessary, and get all the visible grease from the filter.
At this point, you could put it in the dishwasher for a more thorough cleaning.
If not putting it in the dishwasher, then rinse the filter thoroughly with hot water.
Allow it to air dry while you clean the rest of the hood, or pat dry with a paper towel and put it back in place.
While the grease filters are drying, move on to the rest of the range hood.
Visually inspect the inside of the hood to see if grease has gotten through the filter and accumulated inside the hood, or if anything is obstructing the fan or the light.
If possible, look up into the hood, past the fan, into the exhaust system. Some fans can be easily detached for this purpose and cleaning.
While it is rare for grease to build up inside this area, if it does, it is a crucial source of kitchen fires.
If you see build-up or blockage inside your range hood's exhaust system, you should call a professional for more detailed cleaning.
Most range hoods have an air filter between the grease filter and the fan. These filters should be replaced twice a year. Look at the air filter and determine if it needs to be replaced, and replace it if necessary.
If the inside of the range hood is dirty and greasy, it should be cleaned.
Cleaning the Inside Surfaces Of Your Range HoodThen scrub
Turn off the range hood and any powered features it may have (like a light). If you can, unplug it, so it doesn't turn on accidentally.
Mix hot water with some degreasing dish soap.
Using a rag or sponge, dampen it in soapy water and wipe the inside of the range hood.
If the grease is dry or sticky and resists being removed with soapy water, make a thick paste of baking soda and water.
Using a rag or sponge, lightly scrub the grease with the baking soda paste in a circular motion.
Using a soapy water solution, gently wipe away the baking soda paste and grease.
Using a clean rag dampened with just water, wipe away all the soap or baking soda residue.
Continue until the inside of the hood is clean from grease and debris, and you are sure everything is working correctly.
If the air filter assembly has gotten greasy, remove it and wash it thoroughly with soap and water, and baking soda if necessary.
Cleaning the Exterior and Overhang of the Hood
The exterior of the hood usually doesn't accumulate as much grease as the inside, and yet it's the most visible part of a range hood, so it's good to take extra care when cleaning it.
When cleaning the outside of your range hood, here are a few things to keep in mind:
If you are using a new cleaning or degreasing product on your range hood, test it on a small, less visible place first.
Depending on what your hood is made of, cleaning products can scratch, dull, or otherwise mar the look of the hood.
Wiping down the most visible, a most-used panel of the hood (usually the most forward-facing panel where the buttons are) should be part of your daily kitchen cleaning routine.
Like other kitchen surfaces, this panel quickly shows fingerprints and messes, so it's a good idea to just routinely wipe it down.
Always be safe. Make sure the hood is turned off, and unplugged if possible, and stand on a stable stepladder when accessing your range hood, instead of standing on counters or leaning on cabinets.
Making sure that you are at the right height and comfortable and stable allows you to pay better attention and get the hood cleaner.
Cleaning the outside of your range hood depends on what it is made of.
Range hoods are often made of stainless steel or copper and should be cleaned with the appropriate agents that will not damage those materials.
Regular cleaning and visual inspection are the best way to maintain your range hood and are generally the first step in troubleshooting. Here are some common range hood issues.
Problem: You aren't sure if your range hood is taking in air.
Some systems are very quiet, and it can be difficult to tell if the fan is working.
To see if it is, turn the fan. Get a piece of tissue and place it against the range hood intake filter.
If the tissue stays stuck to the underside of your range hood by itself, you know the system is drawing air in.
Problem: Your kitchen is smoky, steamy, or smelly even when your range hood is on its highest setting.
Clean the range hood and clean or replace all the filters. Visually inspect the inside of the hood for a buildup of grease and debris.
If the hood is relatively clean and the filters are new, it could be that the duct is obstructed or the fan isn't functioning correctly, and you may need to call a professional.
Problem: The motor is too loud.
If your range hood fan motor is too loud or making unusual noises, clean the range hood and visually inspect the fan.
If possible, open the fan assembly and clean the blades. If that doesn't resolve the issue, it's best to call a professional.
Problem: The lights or switches aren't working at all, or aren't working properly.
This is usually a sign of an electrical problem with your range hood, and you should call a professional to diagnose and fix it.
Range hoods are a fantastic way to keep your kitchen and your whole house fresher, cleaner, and reduce the risk of kitchen fires.
They also add value and appeal to your home when it's time to sell it because they are an appliance that home buyers are looking for.
For those with asthma and respiratory problems, a range hood can promote better health and indoor air quality, reducing symptoms of these disorders.
And for those with a sensitive smoke detector, a range hood can prevent accidental triggering of alarms.
But, just like every other part of the kitchen, a range hood requires regular cleaning and maintenance to work efficiently and provide the most significant benefits.
Follow the manufacturer's instructions, replace the filters regularly, and keep them clean.
Make range hood maintenance part of your regular home cleaning schedule, to protect your investment, keep it in peak condition, and continue to enjoy the benefits of your range hood for years to come.