How to Clean Restaurant Kitchen Exhaust Fans?

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How to Clean Restaurant Kitchen Exhaust Fan

Cleaning restaurant kitchen exhaust fans is essential to maintain their effectiveness and safety. As you cook, these fans are crucial in removing grease, smoke, steam, and odours from the air. However, as time passes, the accumulation of grease and debris in the filter can diminish the fan’s performance. Neglecting regular cleanings can lead to a hazardous situation, as a clogged grease filter becomes a potential fire risk. Fortunately, you can swiftly and effortlessly clean restaurant kitchen exhaust fans using everyday items.

Unplug Your Restaurant Kitchen Exhaust Fan

Turn Off and Unplug Your Restaurant Kitchen Exhaust Fan

To clean restaurant kitchen exhaust fans safely, it is vital to turn off and unplug the equipment. 

While cleaning near the electrical components of the exhaust fan, it is vital to reduce the potential for harm.

To achieve this, fully unplug the clean restaurant kitchen exhaust fans before proceeding. Simply turning off the fan does not cut out electricity from every part of the appliance, especially in the event of faulty wiring or a broken switch.

Grease Filter in Kitchen Exhaust Systems

Locate the Grease Filter in Your Kitchen Exhaust System

To properly clean restaurant kitchen exhaust fans, locate the grease filter. These filters are typically rectangular and constructed with metal mesh. You can find them positioned underneath the hood or microwave exhaust fan. 

If you need help finding the grease filter, consult the owner’s manual or visit the manufacturer’s website for model-specific information.

Also, modern microwave systems may feature a small charcoal filter on top of the unit, eliminating odours. It is recommended to replace this filter every 6-12 months, depending on the frequency of use.

Remove the Grease Filter

Remove the Grease Filter to Clean Restaurant Kitchen Exhaust Fans

To clean restaurant kitchen exhaust fans, start by unhooking any levers or tabs that hold the filter in place. Then, gently pull out the dirty filter. While most filters can be removed with little effort, heavy grease buildup might cause some filters to stick. You can clean a stubborn filter by sliding a butter knife around its edge in such cases. This method effectively loosens the filter, making it easier to remove.

Place the Grease Filter in a Container

To clean the restaurant kitchen exhaust fans, prepare a suitable pan for soaking and cleaning the filter. Your pan should have enough depth to submerge the filter in the cleaning solution completely. An average-sized sheet pan is an ideal option for most grease filters. Ensure the pan provides enough space for the filter to be fully immersed and effectively cleaned.

Cleaning the Grease Filter

Start Cleaning the Grease Filter

Slowly incorporate baking soda and dish soap into a large pot of water, ensuring the grease dissolves effectively:

    • Gradually add baking soda and dish soap to a water-filled pot, stirring gently.
    • Combining baking soda and dish soap creates a powerful cleaning solution that effectively breaks down and removes stubborn grease.
    • Slowly adding these ingredients helps distribute them in the water evenly, ensuring a thorough cleaning.

To prevent fizzing over the pot, add the baking soda gradually to cool water:

    • Add the baking soda slowly to cool water to avoid a rapid reaction that can cause the mixture to bubble and overflow.
    • This step helps maintain control over the fizzing process and prevents mess or waste.

Bring the water to a boil, allowing the hot water to loosen the grease for better penetration:

    • Heat the pot of water and cleaning solution until it reaches a boiling point.
    • The hot water helps to loosen the grease, making it easier for the cleaning solution to penetrate and break down the grease particles effectively.
    • Boiling water provides a higher temperature that enhances the cleaning process.

Remove the water from heat once boiling, as excessive agitation may cause soapy bubbles to spill over the stove:

    • When the water reaches a boiling point, promptly remove the pot from the heat source.
    • Continued boiling or stirring can create excessive bubbles due to the dish soap, which may overflow and cause a mess on the stove.
    • Taking the pot off the heat helps maintain a controlled environment and prevents potential accidents.

Set aside 1 cup (235 ml) of the cleaning solution for later use on the exhaust hood, fan blades, stovetop, and oven:

    • Reserve a portion of the prepared cleaning solution, around 1 cup (235 ml), for use on other greasy areas in your kitchen.
    • This reserved solution can effectively remove grease from the exhaust hood, fan blades, stove top, oven, or other surfaces prone to grease buildup.
    • An extra cleaning solution ensures you can easily tackle multiple cleaning tasks without preparing a new batch.

Carefully pour the hot cleaning solution over the grease filter, avoiding the backsplash, until the filter is completely submerged. Keep the extra solution warm for an additional soak if necessary:

    • Gently and slowly pour the hot cleaning solution over the grease filter to fully immerse it in the solution.
    • Avoid any backsplash or spillage while pouring to prevent mess and ensure safety.
    • Ensure the entire filter is submerged in the cleaning solution, allowing it to effectively break down and remove the grease.
    • Keep any remaining cleaning solution warm if a longer soak is needed, especially for filters with heavy grease buildup.

Soak the filter for 15-30 minutes (or longer for heavily soiled filters) to dissolve the grease:

    • Allow the grease filter to soak in the cleaning solution for 15-30 minutes.
    • The baking soda and dish soap in the solution work to dissolve and break down the grease, making it easier to remove.
    • A longer soaking time may be necessary for filters with extensive grease accumulation to ensure effective grease removal.

Gently utilize a non-abrasive sponge or soft-bristled brush to eliminate any remaining grease from the filter.

    • Take a non-abrasive sponge or a soft-bristled brush and gently scrub the grease filter to remove residual grease.
    • Avoid scrubbing too aggressively to prevent damage to the filter.
    • Combining the cleaning solution and gentle scrubbing should make removing any remaining grease particles easy.

Thoroughly rinse the filter with hot water to eliminate as much grease and residue as possible, paying extra attention to still-soiled areas.

    • Thoroughly rinse the grease filter with hot water to eliminate any remaining grease and residue.
    • Focus on areas that may still appear dirty after scrubbing to ensure a thorough cleaning.
    • The hot water helps flush the grease and leave the filter as clean as possible.

Allow the filter to air-dry completely to prevent damage, avoiding the use of cloth or blow drying:

    • Place the cleaned filter in a well-ventilated area and allow it to air-dry completely.
    • Avoid using a cloth or blow drying, as these methods can damage the filter.
    • Air-drying ensures that all moisture evaporates, leaving the filter in optimal condition for re-installation.

Clean grease filters regularly, especially if you frequently cook, to enhance the efficiency of the exhaust fan and minimize health and safety risks associated with grease buildup:

    • It is essential to clean the grease filters regularly, especially if you cook regularly.
    • Regular cleaning of the filters helps maintain the exhaust fan’s efficiency, ensuring proper kitchen ventilation.
    • Additionally, regular cleaning reduces the health and safety risks associated with grease buildups, such as fire hazards and decreased air quality.

Be Careful With The Electrical Components When Cleaning Restaurant Kitchen Exhaust Fans

Take precautions to prevent any moisture from coming into contact with the electrical components of the clean restaurant kitchen exhaust fans. 

It is crucial to avoid spraying cleaning solution directly into the inner area of the fan. Instead, always utilize a sponge or cloth for cleaning purposes. 

Leaving moisture on the inner components can lead to electrical malfunctions and significantly reduce the lifespan of your exhaust unit. Exercise caution and ensure the electrical parts remain dry during the cleaning process.

Grease Buildup in Restaurant Kitchen Exhaust Fans

Eliminate Any Visible Grease Buildup

For efficient operation and extended lifespan of the blower unit, it is essential to clean the accessible fan blades of clean restaurant kitchen exhaust fans. 

Clean fan blades enhance ventilation, resulting in improved performance. Avoid leaving any grease on the hood walls or inside the fan, as airborne grease that bypasses the grease filter can accumulate with existing grease, accelerating the formation of hazardous grease buildup.

For light grease buildup, utilize the baking soda solution set aside and a non-abrasive sponge to eliminate visible grease. 

If no solution was reserved, you could easily create an effective de-greasing solution by mixing a spoonful of baking soda, a squeeze of dish soap, and warm water.

In the case of heavy grease buildup, apply a thin layer of liquid dishwasher soap or a specialized kitchen de-greaser product to the affected areas, ensuring you wear gloves during the application. 

The thicker cleaning solution will adhere to the buildup, gradually breaking it down. 

Let the solution soak for 15-30 minutes, then use a non-abrasive sponge to wipe away the grease.

Insert Clean Grease Filter

Insert the Clean Grease Filter in Your Restaurant Exhaust Fan System

Once you have thoroughly cleaned the inside and outside of the clean restaurant kitchen exhaust fan, it’s time to re-insert the clean and dry grease filter. 

Position the filter back into its original placement, following the same orientation as when it was removed. Make sure to re-attach any locking mechanisms or screws to fasten the filter in place securely. 

By correctly re-installing the grease filter, you ensure its effective functioning in trapping grease and maintaining the cleanliness of the exhaust system.

You Can Restore Power to Your Exhaust Fan Now

Before operating any electrical appliance, it is essential to follow the proper sequence. 

Begin by plugging the clean restaurant kitchen exhaust fan or microwave into the wall socket.

 Once securely plugged in, you can turn on the fan to ensure that all components function correctly. 

This step allows you to verify that the exhaust fan or microwave is operating as expected after cleaning. 

Remember to exercise caution when handling electrical appliances and ensure they are connected to a power source before activating them.


Tags: clean commercial kitchen exhaust fan, clean restaurant exhaust fans, cleaning commercial kitchen exhaust fans

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