Your extractor hood and filter work hard to remove grease, cooking smells and steam from your kitchen. So it’s not surprising that they can get pretty dirty. Cleaning can extend an extractor fan’s life. A regular clean also helps to prevent the extractor getting clogged with grease, which can be a fire risk as it impairs airflow and makes the fan overheat.
Ideally you’d want to keep the extractor hood and filter clean as part of your usual cleaning routine. Mark Woollard of The Oven and Hobs Cleaning Company recommends cleaning little and often. He says: 'If you keep on top of it, it means you won't need to aggressively clean painted surfaces, which are easily damaged.'
If your cleaning regime has left your extractor needing more attention, Which? Trusted Traders helps you find endorsed oven-cleaning specialists in your area who can take care of it for you. Read on for more tips on how to tackle cleaning your extractor fan and hood.
Broadly speaking, there are two styles of extractor fan – flat or chimney style. The best way to clean your fan depends on which type you have.
Each model will be slightly different. It’s worth consulting the instruction manual before you start cleaning, to make sure you’re using the right technique to dismantle the filter and clean the casing. This is normally easy to do, as filters need to be changed regularly.
Replacing the grease filter
Grease filters are designed to be replaced regularly to deal with the build-up of grease and stains. You should replace a paper filter if it’s saturated with grease, and the pattern on the filter becomes discoloured with a reddish tint. Mark recommends replacing it every three months to a year, depending on the amount and type of food cooked on the hob.
'Flat-style extractors have grease filters that are made of paper,’ Mark says. ‘You can buy them from a supermarket and then cut to size.
Removing and cleaning the extractor cover
Clean the extractor cover by removing it and putting it in a container to soak. It will often need some intensive soaking to remove the build-up of grease.
The best method is to put the cover into an oven-soaking tray or dip tray, with boiling water and soda crystals or a bicarbonate-of-soda paste (Mark recommends one called Astonish or, alternatively, you can make your own).
'Some customers use washing powder,' Mark says. 'If you’re willing to leave it for a long time, overnight perhaps, that will do the trick, as it contains the biological agents that will break down the grime.'
Finally, after it’s had a good soaking, wipe the extractor cover with a microfibre cloth and polish.
Is your cooker hood past repair? Find out how to buy the best cooker hood and check the Which? guide to the best buy cooker hoods for your kitchen. Read on for how to tackle cleaning chimney-style extractors.
Cleaning the mesh filter
Most chimney-style extractors have aluminium mesh that acts as the filter, rather than a paper insert.
'They're spring loaded and easy to remove,' Mark says. 'You’ll be able to see the fan.'
If there’s only a light build-up, take out the mesh and clean it in the sink using boiling water and washing-up liquid. If the grease and grime are more serious, you could put it in the dishwasher - but you should wash it thoroughly with water immediately afterwards, then pat it dry.
Replacing a carbon odour filter
As well as the paper or aluminium mesh grease filter, some extractors have a carbon odour filter. It’s not possible to clean these, but you can replace yours if you feel it’s no longer effectively removing odours. You can contact the manufacturer for a replacement, or look for compatible spares online.
'Manufacturers often recommend changing these carbon odour filters every three months,’ Mark says, ‘but I would suggest that annually is OK for most people's budgets and lifestyles’.
Cleaning a stainless-steel exterior
Chimney-style extractors tend to have a stainless-steel exterior, which can get sticky with a build-up of grease. Mark advises: ‘If there is a lot of grime, you’ll need a bit of elbow grease to shift that but, if you’re too aggressive, it can damage the surface.’
He adds: 'Use a very mild bicarbonate-of-soda paste, and work out the direction of the grain on a small area before you tackle the whole thing. Work with a linear cleaning motion, not a circular one.'
Once the exterior is clean, apply a little baby oil for a smooth finish. 'It nourishes the stainless steel and helps to prevent fingerprints,' Mark says. Apply it sparingly with a lint-free cloth.
Cleaning extractor hood light-bulb casing
Most extractor fans have lights to help illuminate your cooking area. These are equally likely to get dirty because of their location.
Once you’ve taken off the plastic or glass covers, Mark recommends dipping them in a soaking tray. ‘If the dirt is tricky to remove, use a hob scraper (a small tool with a retractable blade, which you can buy for around £5 from supermarkets) to carefully remove the greasy build-up.'
If this all sounds like far too much trouble, Which? Trusted Traders has endorsed oven and hob cleaners operating in your area.
- Take a look at our 10 simple jobs to tackle around the home
- Check our tips on how to clean your hob
- Advice on whether to repair or replace your faulty appliance