How to Clean and Maintain Your Kitchen Exhaust Fans

kitchen exhaust fans

Kitchen exhaust fans have one of the most important jobs in your commercial kitchen. These mechanical fans keep your kitchen air clean, reducing greasy buildup around the area and maintaining employee comfort.

Keeping exhaust fans in top shape is essential to a well-maintained kitchen area. Because they’re working to remove and filter air, these fans require regular cleaning and maintenance.

This equipment works hard in the background and is easily forgotten. Regular maintenance is a must, however. To learn more about keeping up exhaust fans for kitchens the right way, read on.

What Are Kitchen Exhaust Fans?

Kitchen exhaust fans, also known as range hoods, have the heavy duty job of removing impurities and moisture from the air in a commercial kitchen. These fans are situated directly above stove tops and cooking surfaces. They consist of a hood (also called a canopy) and a fan.

The hood serves to capture dirty, moist air. Meanwhile, the fan inside extracts this air and moves it away from the kitchen and outside. In a kitchen setting where cooking is constant, this action removes:

  • Steam from boiling water and simmering foods
  • Strong cooking odors
  • Smoke
  • Grease particles
  • Harmful vapors and pollutants
  • Excess heat, which is especially helpful in warmer months

Removing air pollutants, steam and heat makes it easier to cook in the kitchen. Adequate ventilation in a busy commercial kitchen is made possible by hard-working fans. A comfortable cooking environment is necessary for optimal productivity.


Removing grease particles and humidity from the air is critical to maintaining a clean environment and properly functioning equipment. Thick, sticky grease buildup is difficult to clean when it settles on and clings to other pieces of equipment. It can block airflow in other appliances and make the kitchen look unsanitary.

In addition to being dirty and unsightly, grease buildup increases the chances of a grease fire in the kitchen. Its removal could prevent a serious health hazard.


Excessive moisture can also be very damaging in a commercial environment. Without exhaust fans, humidity would condense and collect on walls, furniture, and equipment. In time, this can lead to noticeable water damage in vulnerable areas.

Well-maintained commercial exhaust fans prevent grease and moisture from becoming issues. They do far more than just remove odor. They prevent costly damage.


Working in a kitchen can be miserable when the thermostat keeps climbing. Kitchen fan venting pulls extra heat away from the cooking area so that employees can stay cool. This can also help keep air conditioning costs down as it prevents heat from collecting.

Maintaining Kitchen Exhaust Fans

To properly vent and filter the air, kitchen exhaust fans must be maintained on a regular basis. Their efficiency and lifespan depend on it.

Since commercial fan setups are heftier than home units, you’ll need to follow a few extra steps when tackling this job.

Unplug the Exhaust Fan Unit

Commercial appliances must be unplugged before maintenance to avoid injury or death by electrocution. These are big units and will require a lot of cleaning solution.

It’s also a good idea to use a tarp or painter’s drop cloth around the area while you’re cleaning to catch drips. No cooking should be done while unit maintenance is in progress.

Remove Grease Containment Traps

Most commercial kitchen exhaust fans have grease collecting receptacles on the side of the hood. This grease can be put into sealed metal containers for proper disposal at a later time.

Soak the grease traps in a mixture of very hot water and grease-cutting cleaner. This will soften the sticky residue so it can be removed.

Remove the Filters

Kitchen exhaust fans have filters for catching grease, dust, and other particulates. Like the grease traps, these kitchen exhaust fan filters quickly become coated with thick greasy residue and can lose their effectiveness when not cleaned regularly.

When cleaning your traps, remove these filters. They should be soaked in the same hot water solution as the traps so the grease can be loosened. After soaking, they can be scrubbed with a nylon brush to remove remaining residue.

Under the Hood: Cleaning the Hood and Fan

The kitchen exhaust fan cover, or hood, will need thorough cleaning just like the rest of the unit. While your traps and filters are soaking, make a similar cleaning solution for your hood. These solutions should always consist of an approved grease-cutting cleaner and hot water.

Both the interior and the exterior of the kitchen exhaust hood need to be scrubbed with a soft cloth soaked in the cleaning solution. All surfaces and corners should be addressed to avoid gunk and grease collection that can lead to fire hazards.

Cleaning the Fan Blades

The fan blades of your kitchen exhaust unit will need to be carefully cleaned as well. All of the dirty air that is removed from your cooking area passes over these blades. The filters do a good job catching the bulk of the particles, but they can’t filter everything.

When cleaning the fan blades and the hood of your kitchen exhaust fans, never spray cleaning solution directly into the unit. You should avoid directly wetting any of the electrical components during the maintenance process. To avoid unintentional wetness in the unit, always use a cloth that has been dipped in the solution to scrub instead of directly spraying cleaner into dirty areas.

When all of the components of your unit are clean and dry, reassembly is in order. You’ll need to reinsert filters and traps before plugging the unit back in.

Regular Maintenance for Top Performance

Exhaust fans work hard to remove the junk from the air in your commercial kitchen. Maintaining a regular cleaning schedule for your kitchen exhaust fans will ensure that your kitchen stays cleaner, safer, and more comfortable.

Are you in the market for high performance exhaust fans and kitchen ventilation equipment? As the number one distributor of commercial exhaust fans, we’ve got you covered. You can check out our blog for more information or give us a call today.