Broadly speaking, there are two ways to deal with messes in the kitchen: Everyday tidying up—like after cooking, eating, or spills—and then, the type of deep cleaning typically reserved for when people you want to impress are coming over, or you’re trying to get a security deposit back before moving.
Sure, some people find deep cleaning satisfying, but even for them, removing cooking grease can be a challenge—especially in kitchens without an exhaust fan. Even with exhaust fans, those droplets of grease that coat your stove while frying something, eventually turn into a sticky film that can build up over time, hardening on countertops, appliances, and walls.
If you’ve ever attempted to remove cooking grease from kitchen surfaces, you know it’s not easy. Here are some techniques and strategies that’ll help.
How to clean cooking grease
Cooking grease may look like any other grime on your cabinets, countertops, or walls, but when you try to tackle it using your normal kitchen cleaning method—like your usual cleanser and a sponge, cloth, or paper towel—you’ll notice that, for the most part, it doesn’t budge. Here’s what to do:
Clean the surfaces with your usual method
To get a better idea of the extent of the mess you’re dealing with, start by giving your kitchen surfaces a quick wipe-down, the way you normally would. The idea is to get rid of all the easy-to-remove stains and gunk, so that only the most stubborn splatters are left, and you know where to focus your attention and elbow grease.
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Assess the mess and its location
Now that you know where the grease stains are the worst, pick an area to work on first, and gather the necessary supplies. For instance, if you have wood cabinets, marble countertops, painted walls, and a stainless steel stove, you can’t (safely) clean them all the same way, so take the time to switch up your supplies accordingly, based on the surface.
Get to work
Depending on the surface you’re cleaning and its location in your kitchen, it’ll help to have a variety of cleaning tools and supplies. We’re talking about things like clean rags/cloths, sponges, scrub brushes, clean toothbrushes, cotton swabs, disposable chopsticks (they’re great for getting into corners and crevices)—get creative.
You’ll also need some cleaning solutions in your arsenal (we’ll get to those in a minute). Once you have everything you need, get to work. Rinsing or wiping the surfaces with warm or hot water as you’re cleaning may help soften the grease. Go in knowing that it will probably taking some time and patience to cut through all those layers of grease.
Cleaning solutions and products for removing cooking grease
We’ve come to expect cleaning products to do the work for us and make messes magically disappear. Unfortunately, that’s usually not the case when dealing with cooking grease, but these DIY solutions and store-bought products are some of the best options:
Given that the room where we cook, prepare, and eat food is involved, some may want to skip commercial products with harsh chemicals, and make their own degreasers. Just keep in mind that these DIY versions also contain strong ingredients that can damage various surfaces (including your skin). Here are a few recipes:
- Degreaser spray made with white vinegar, baking soda, and Castile soap.
- Citric acid spray: Combine 2 tablespoons of citric acid powder with 1 cup of hot water in an empty (clean) spray bottle. Shake until powder is dissolved.
- Stain scrub: Mix salt and white vinegar until it forms a paste, then gently scrub the stain with a soft cloth or toothbrush.
A lot of commercial cleaning products promise to remove grease, but here are a few favorites:
- Bar Keepers Friend: It works wonders on certain types of stains, and now comes in a variety of forms (gels, sprays, soft cleansers) in addition to the original powder.
- Dirtex: Soilax—which came in a shiny red box and may have been a staple in your household growing up—was discontinued, and Dirtex has filled that grease-fighting hole in the market. Be sure to read the instructions carefully before using.
- Dishwashing liquid: It was made to cut grease on dishes, but works on other surfaces too.