I don’t cook with lots of oil, but I make sure to turn on the oven range fan whenever something is smoking and splattering. It keeps the house smelling better, but it also means the fan is sucking up lots of aerated oil. I was shocked when I first peered above the stove and studied the vent filters carefully – they were absolutely saturated in oil.
Since then, I’ve cleaned my filters from time to time, with varying levels of success. I can get some of the grease and grime off, but not all of it. I’ve tried plain dish soap, granulated dishwasher detergent and boiling water. None of those methods worked perfectly.
I did some research and the recommended way to clean these oven vents is with a “degreaser.” Google “kitchen degreaser” and you’ll learn there are a huge variety of products. I didn’t know where to start.
I decided I would test two different products on my two vents – one a dedicated degreaser, and the other a mixture of more common household cleaners. For my dedicated degreaser I opted for Greased Lightning, a product I had read about and was able to find with no trouble at Home Depot. I also learned in my research that Dawn dishwashing liquid is considered the best at fighting grease (a fact its parent company Proctor and Gamble highlights by promoting the use of Dawn in oil spill cleanup). Ammonia is commonly used to loosen stuck-on grime, so I thought it would be a good addition to my homemade degreaser. I combined equal parts water and household ammonia and added a health squirt of Dawn Ultra Concentrated.
I soaked and washed off one screen (the less dirty of the two) in the ammonia mixture, and sprayed the other with Greased Lightning. Both filters got cleaner than I had ever seen them before, but I still hoped to get them shiny.
I figured it was time to do some real scrubbing, so I grabbed an old toothbrush, dropped each screen in the ammonia mixture and started brushing. The results were almost instantaneous, and also better than when I used a scrub brush. The toothbrush really let me get into the metal filters and scrub away the loosened gunk.
In the end, there wasn’t any difference between the Greased Lightning degreaser and the Dawn and ammonia combination. What I really needed to get my filters clean was elbow grease and a toothbrush. In the future I’ll keep it simple and use cleaning products I already have.
One recommendation – do your cleaning outside. Ammonia really smells!