Tested: The Best Way to Clean Your Oven Vent Filters

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.

The filters before cleaning.

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.

The filters half-way through the cleaning process.

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.

The completely clean filters. (Ignore the black splotch; that was from a grease fire and won't come off.)

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!

  • http://twitter.com/San__Rio Dangerous Lee

    I am going to take a look at my filter right now. I bet it could use a cleaning. Thanks for the tip about Dawn and ammonia.

  • http://twitter.com/San__Rio Dangerous Lee

    I am going to take a look at my filter right now. I bet it could use a cleaning. Thanks for the tip about Dawn and ammonia.

  • Lydia

    I’ve never once cleaned the vent filters in 20 years. I’m afraid to look!

  • Teenacarden

    I have a jenair range and run my filters thru the dishwasher.  I wash them by themselves with 1 tsp dishwasher powder.  As soon as the dishwasher fills with water, I add a decent amount of amonia to the water.  Close the door and wash on heavy duty.

    this is so quick and easy, I do it monthly.

  • Guest

    The easiest way for me to clean my filters is to throw them in the dishwasher on the hottest water temperature.  I get good results

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  • Mickey

    I use EASY OFF oven cleaner on the vents and on the stove filament guard things (the run off catchers under the heat source). Spray go watch TV or do laundry for 30 mins and VOILA-like new.

  • Solp

    Her’s a good tip: take a large pot (that your filters will fit it) and simply add about half a cup of Sodium Bicarbonate in boiling water.  Let the filters boil for about 5 minutes. Works great.

  • jmcd2002

    Love your site. 

    A mixture of hot water, dish soap and Fantastik is a powerful degreaser.
    This really works and leaves the filters looking like new.  You may have to do a little scrubbing with a stiff brush. Make sure the area is ventilated. I’ve done this for years and never found the smell to be offensive.
    Fill sink 1/4 full with very hot water
    Add approx. 4 tbsp. of dish soap
    Add approx. 1/4 cup of Fantastik or Formula 409 and stir
    Completely immerse greasy filters into sink and let them soak for 15 minutes. Afterwards, gently scrub any tough yellowy/waxy areas, rinse with hot water and repeat all steps, if necessary.  Usually first time is good enough.

  • Asha

    I clean my filters in Dishwasher every other week….comes out clean. I have a reminder set in my calender to wash the filter every 2 week.

    • paula

      great idea!  then it never gets extremely filthy!

  • Jnee1

    I happened on your site when looking at cleaning shower doors, but also started reading your various tests – really interesting and informative!
    Anyways, I had also wondered how to clean vent filters and had scrubbed with brushes and the brushes got really icky too.  My Mom saw what I did (now I have both icky vent filters and icky scrubbing brush) and she told me to put both the vent filter and the scrubbing brush in the dishwasher and voila! The dishwasher got them really clean – no effort on your part!  Now anything in the kitchen that gets really icky and can fit in the dishwasher, that’s where they went! 

  • littlemisshavisham

    Thanks for the great tips!

  • joanywill

    Just put them in the dishwasher.

  • zfoose

    I’ve put mine in the dishwasher. Works great. This may make them even better though.

  • Juanita Sparkes

    I have the same set up above my stove. I have found that if I boil a large pot of water and place the screens in the sink, sprinkle a good amount of baking soda over each one, then squirt a little dawn on each screen, then pour the boiling water very slowly over the screens it boils all the gunk off… then just rinse thourghly to make sure all the soap is off… I will admit the first time I cleaned them I had lived in my apartment for four months and don’t think they had been cleaned before I moved in and it took three cleanings to get all the gunk out, but since then one cleaning does it

  • Jill

    There is a more easy way to do this and I found out by accident. Take a flat plastic container like a 13×9 tupperware type. Line the bottom with foil, put vent on top of foil, top with a generous helping of baking soda pour boiling water over it and watch it fizz up. Once the water cools down take a look at what you will find in the water– a greasy mess that was lifted off the vent. If the vent is still a bit dirty repeat the process with fresh baking soda each time. Mine was in REALLY BAD shape and it took three cleanings before it was spotless, shiny and looked new– no scrubbing EVER needed–

    • Jill

      Oh, no ammonia needed nor to be outside. I did this in my kitchen with NO fumes at all. The plastic container, baking soda and boiling water method is also used to shine up your silver jewelry too.

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