Keeping your range hood filters clean is an absolute must when it comes to safety in the kitchen
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Woman removing dirty filters from kitchen fan
Credit: Getty Images / Cris Cantón

When you cook, it's inevitable that some mess will be made. Whether you spill flour on the countertop or oil splatters from the frying pan onto the stove, it's important to keep your kitchen clean (because no one wants to eat food made in a dirty kitchen or risk attracting bugs or other pests). But there's one place that you might be overlooking during your cleaning: the range hood filters.

Range hoods are a giant filtration system that work to eliminate any smoke, steam or odors that are in the air. They also remove hot air in the kitchen and funnel it outside to keep your kitchen cooler. The filters act as a gateway to the filtration system and are positioned directly above the stovetop. As a result, the filters can quickly accumulate grease, and a buildup of grease could be a potential fire hazard as smoke and steam aren't able to filter out. In addition, if the filter is full of grease, it won't be able to trap more, thereby causing new grease to stick to other surfaces, including the walls, countertops, cabinets or nearby appliances. Dirt and dust will then stick to the grease and leave you with an even bigger mess to clean.

Read on for two easy methods for cleaning your range hood filters. Plus, find out how often you should be cleaning the filters.

How to Clean Range Hood Filters

We read over a dozen manuals for range hoods and discovered two easy methods for cleaning the filters. But before you can start cleaning, it's important to understand what kind of filter you have. There are two main types: a baffle filter and a mesh filter. A baffle filter is typically made out of stainless steel and has multiple panels, which the air filters through. A mesh filter can be made of aluminum or stainless steel and is composed of layers of mesh, which create a porous look. The cleaning methods below are suitable for both types of filters, but if you have any questions, you should consult your range hood's manual for specific instructions.

Cleaning in the Dishwasher

Whether it's a baffle filter or mesh filter, range hood filters are often dishwasher-safe. Here's how to clean them:

  1. Remove filters and load onto the top rack of dishwasher. Run the dishwasher.
  2. After the cycle has run, ensure that the filters are completely dry before reattaching to the range hood.

It's that easy! The manuals we consulted suggest using a detergent that is phosphate-free, as one containing phosphates could lead to discoloration of the filter. If that happens, don't worry, the color won't affect the performance of the filter.

Cleaning by Hand

For those without a dishwasher, you can easily clean your filters by hand. Here's how:

  1. Fill sink with hot water and dishwashing detergent (soap also works).
  2. Add filters and let them soak for 10 minutes (this helps cut through any layers of built-up grease).
  3. Using a nonabrasive sponge, scrub the filters to remove grease and stains. Rinse with warm water.
  4. Allow the filters to air-dry completely before reattaching to the range hood.

And that's it! Once your filters are clean, they'll be more effective at removing unwanted odors and heat from the kitchen.

How Often Should You Clean Range Hood Filters?

Depending on the model, your range hood may have an indicator button or light that lets you know when it's time to clean the filters. If your range hood doesn't have that feature, most manuals suggest cleaning once a month or after every 30 hours of use. If you cook frequently, you should wash your filters more often.