Kitchen chimneys have become an essential part of a modern kitchen, keeping it clean & odor-free. A kitchen chimney sucks out all the smoke and oil fumes while you’re cooking.
A filter present in the chimney separates all the oils & grease particles from the smoke. All the smoke is then passed to the air duct, which blows it out in an external surrounding.
This prevents the oil & grease buildup inside your kitchen. You also get a smoke-free environment while cooking.
However, the oil & grease keeps stacking inside the filter and other chimney parts. So, it’s necessary to clean your chimney regularly.
But how to clean a kitchen chimney all by yourself?
You can use household items like vinegar, baking soda, detergents, or paint thinners to clean the filter and the chimney body. You can also seek professional help and book cleaners who’ll do the job.
There’s also one special cleaning ingredient that works perfectly but is not always advisable. I’ll discuss it later in this post.
If you’ve decided to do it all by yourself, keep reading to find the exact methods and steps to clean your kitchen chimney.
But first, let’s understand the importance of cleaning your kitchen chimney and how frequently you should do it.
Importance of Cleaning Your Kitchen Chimney
As I said, a kitchen chimney collects all the oil & grease particles rising from the food while cooking. These particles keep getting stacked inside the filter.
With time, it becomes a thick greasy mesh that can rupture the functioning of your chimney and can even cause filter or fan damage. Oil drops from the filter can fall on your gas stove, causing a fire hazard.
So, you must regularly clean your kitchen’s chimney to prevent any accidents and keep the chimney running effectively.
How Often Do I Need to Clean My Kitchen Chimney?
The answer to this question depends on your cooking style and the type of food you cook.
- If you cook oily & spicy foods more frequently, the filters will soon get dirty. In such cases, you should clean your chimney and the filter once a month.
- If your cooking includes little or no oil, no frying, and fewer spices, then you can relax a bit. Clean your chimney and the filter once every two or three months, and it’ll be fine.
- In the case of charcoal filters, they can’t be cleaned. Depending on your cooking methods, you must replace them once every 3-6 months.
- Ductless chimneys have oil channels where all the filtered oil & grease is stored. In this case, you’ll need to empty and clean this channel.
To be safe, check the filter once every month. This’ll give you an idea of when to clean it.
Different Methods to Clean a Kitchen Chimney
Vinegar is a household item found in almost every home. And why shouldn’t it?
Vinegar is used in several food items, as a medical remedy, and can even act as a cleaning agent. It has a mild acidic nature, so it works as a disinfectant too.
But vinegar is not a very powerful cleaning agent. That’s why it’s best to use vinegar to only clean the chimney exterior and the hood.
- Soak a paper or cloth towel in the vinegar.
- Apply it all over the hood, lights, edges, and other external parts.
- Let it rest for 5-10 minutes, and then use a towel soaked in water to wipe again and remove all the dirt.
You can also use a sprayer to spray the vinegar all over the chimney.
Baking soda is yet another household item that acts as a suitable cleaning agent. Its chemical name is Sodium Bicarbonate, a type of salt.
Due to its abrasive nature, baking soda can easily clean tough stains. So, it’s a good choice for cleaning your chimney.
The best part? You probably have a packet of baking soda in your kitchen or refrigerator, as it’s a popular baking ingredient.
To clean the chimney exteriors:
- Mix 1-2 tablespoons of baking soda with a bit of water to make a thick paste.
- Apply this paste to your chimney’s external parts using a toothbrush. Let it sit for 10-12 minutes.
- Use a cloth towel to wipe clean all the dirt, grease, and oils along with the paste.
To clean the filter, you’ll need a strong cleaning solution to remove all the grease & grime:
- Take a big plastic tub and add hot water. Fill enough water so that the filter drowns completely.
- Add 3-5 tablespoons of baking soda, 2 cups of vinegar, and 2-3 tablespoons of salt in the water.
- Immerse the filter into this solution and let it rest for a few hours.
- Remove the filter after 2-3 hours and use a scrubber or toothbrush to clean the corners and insides.
- Wash with cold running water.
If you don’t get satisfactory results, repeat the process one more time the next day.
Both dishwashing liquid and detergents have several cleaning chemicals inside them, known as surfactants or surf-active agents.
These chemicals are really good at cleaning greasy & oily stains. So, you can use either dishwashing liquid or detergent to clean your chimney & its filter.
- Take out the filter and apply the dishwashing liquid or detergent powder all over it. Use a scrubber to spread the liquid/detergent to the innermost parts of the filter.
- Pour boiling water into a tub and immerse the filter in it.
- After 2-3 hours, remove the filter. Use a soft scrubber to scrub the leftover grim.
- Wash with cold water and dry it using a paper/cloth towel.
If you want a stronger solution to clean tough stains & depositions:
- Use a steel drum instead of the plastic tub.
- After placing the filter in hot water, set it on a burner. Ensure there is no more water in the drum than you can lift or handle.
- Let the water boil for 15-20 minutes.
- Remove from the burner, and let it rest for an hour.
- Remove and scrub the filter softly. Wash with cold water.
This process will get rid of the toughest stains your filter has.
NOTE: Always be extra careful around the drum when it’s boiling. Use gloves to handle the hot drum.
Paint thinners consist of blended mineral spirits, turpentine, acetone, naphtha, or other such agents. These excellent solvents can thin oil-based paints and tough grease/oil stains.
You can use paint thinner to clean the challenging grease depositions on the filter.
But there’s a minor issue.
I tried cleaning my baffle filter with this approach. I poured the paint thinner all over my filter so it could penetrate through the grease.
However, the fumes from the paint thinner got into my nostrils, making me nauseous. I had to visit a doctor for relief.
So, I recommend using this method only to clean highly stubborn stains. Don’t pour the paint thinner over the filter. Instead, do this:
- First, go to an open area with good airflow so the fumes will disperse. Even then, wear a face mask.
- Dip a piece of cotton, microfiber cloth, or a toothbrush in the paint thinner.
- Use it to scrub all the stubborn stains on your filter. Repeat the process a few times or till the stain is clean.
- If an area is still dirty, use the brush and sprinkle a few drops of the thinner on the stain. Let it rest for 10-15 minutes and scrub again.
- Wash the filter with cold water.
Caustic Soda (The Special Ingredient)
Caustic soda, or Sodium Hydroxide (NaOH), is a widely used chemical in many different industries. Apart from that, it’s an excellent cleaning agent.
The drain cleaner in your home has caustic soda as its main ingredient. And you know how effective drain cleaners are!
However, there’s a catch.
To clean your filter with caustic soda, you must be very careful. Caustic soda is corrosive and will cause skin burns if it spills on you. It’s even more dangerous for the eyes.
Follow these safety points before cleaning:
- Always wear gloves while handling caustic soda.
- Put on a face mask to avoid inhaling the fumes while cleaning.
- Keep your face away from the filter while cleaning.
- Never use this method to clean aluminum filters. Caustic soda reacts vigorously with aluminum to produce toxic gases.
- Dispose of all the leftovers in a separate bag after cleaning.
To clean the filter with caustic soda:
- Let the filter rest on the ground. Place a spoiled piece of cloth or bedsheet under it.
- Wear your gloves & mask, then sprinkle the caustic soda all over the filter on all sides. Use any drain cleaner if caustic soda is unavailable.
- Fill a tub with warm water (not hot!) and place the filter inside it.
- After 25-20 minutes, remove the filter and wash it under cold running water. Give it a thorough wash, and you’ll see a clean filter.
This method is the best of all to remove the toughest of stains. But considering all the hazards, use this method only if none other works for you.
Cleaning your kitchen chimney is not a challenging task. You can use household items like vinegar, baking soda, detergents, and paint thinners to clean the chimney body and the filter.
Always remember to clean your chimney regularly. Otherwise, the oil & grease buildup can damage the chimney or your kitchen.
If you want to clean other parts of the chimney, like the motor fan or the duct pipe, seek professional help unless you want to hurt yourself or damage the chimney. Experienced cleaners can easily handle this task as they are equipped with the necessary tools.