In most modern kitchens in India, chimneys are common. Especially with a growing trend of having open kitchens or kitchens that are attached to dining areas, the chimneys have become indispensable parts of our daily lives. They make our cooking process easy, they keep our kitchens cleaner and most importantly, they keep the walls and ceiling around your cooking area free of oily grease. With most kitchens becoming top-notch when it comes to equipment, the chimney is essential. In today’s India where kitchens have modular cabinets, bar shelves, modern appliances like stand mixers, dish washers and air fryers & efficient space management, a chimney also enhances the look of a modern elegant kitchen.
However, despite this high level of importance of the chimneys in our lives, it’s quite a task to clean them. They are sticky and oily and often come with stubborn amounts of grease stuck. They often become such a hard task to clean, that we keep putting off the task until one day, when the chimney filter is so dirty, that it isn’t even serving its purpose correctly.
This article aims to help you clean grease from chimney filters at home, with ease. We make it simple, we use commonly found ingredients and we tell you methods that don’t involve hours of scrubbing.
We also give you other information and tips that might come in handy if you’re someone looking to buy a new chimney. It’s best to be well-informed about the cleaning process and the various aspects of it, before investing in a chimney, as cleaning will play a crucial role after you’ve made your purchase.
But before that, we were wondering why chimney filters in India, indeed get so dirty, so soon.
Here’s why chimney filters in India get dirty fast
It’s no surprise that the chimney filters in India are prone to being so oily and greasy. Most Indian cuisines use a fair amount of spices, oils, ghee and more in their recipes. While that goes on to enhance the taste of the dishes, they’re not friendly with the chimney filters.
The ingredients used gives rise to a lot of smoke, which leaves residue in the filters. They keep on accumulating in the form of sticky grease. We have to remove this grease periodically and clean the chimney filters
The importance of periodic chimney filter cleaning
You may be wondering why at all is it important to clean your kitchen chimneys. It is not only necessary to clean chimney filter to make sure that the chimney functions properly, but also because dirty chimneys run several health hazards.
All the dirt, oil and grease decrease the efficiency of your chimney. That, in turn, leads to an appliance becoming defunct, and also a dirtier, smoke-filled kitchen.
If the filter is not clean, then the grease will accumulate over time, until one day it starts dropping onto the surface below. Since, in most likelihood, that’s your gas, the oil droplets falling on an open flame, can even cause a fire in the kitchen.
These residues on the filters are remnants of several days of smoke and polluted air that couldn’t pass through. If these fall in your food, they potentially contaminate it and make it unhealthy for consumption.
With the chimney often being a big visible part of your kitchen, dirty chimneys convey a bad message to guests. It not only looks pretty bad but also gives off the wrong vibe.
Especially with mesh filters, cleaning regularly is important, as otherwise, you’ll have to go through the ordeal of replacing it completely.
Hence, cleaning chimney filters regularly is a must for all kitchens.
Most people tend to resort o hiring professional cleaning services, but we say that you can do it all by yourself too.
Professional chimney cleaning services vs Cleaning it yourself
Professional chimney cleaning services in India charge anything between Rs. 1200 to Rs. 2000 for their yearly services, which involve four rounds of cleaning. One-time charges are usually around Rs. 600 to Rs 800. This makes it quite an expensive affair.
Given the Covid times, it might not be the safest to let strangers enter your place. In cases of lockdowns or curfews, you will be cooking at home yourself, so equipping yourself with chimney cleaning skills might be a very good idea.
Lastly, professional chimney cleaning services will come once in four months, with them having set periods between two sessions. You and your household needs might be different. Ultimately, how dirty a chimney gets is directly related to how much cooking happens in the house and that is a relative measure for all households.
Hence, knowing the easy methods of cleaning a chimney filter at home can be of great use.
How to clean grease from a chimney filter easily
Some tips and tricks can save you from scrubbing and scratching for hours while trying to rub off sticky stains and oily grease from your chimneys. We’ve listed the top ways to clean your chimney filters at home.
1. A kitchen dishwasher
Your regular dishwashing gels, especially the lemon dishwashing gels, can help you immensely while cleaning chimney filters.
Dishwashing gels are most commonly available and you probably already have some in your house.
First, take off the filters from the chimney hood and place them in hot water. Then add the gel to that water itself and let the filters soak in the solution for a couple of hours. After doing this, scrub off the grease with a scrubber. Then wash again with normal plain water. Remember to dry it completely before inserting back into the hood.
Liquid surfactants present in common dishwashing gels help in cleaning grease easily. Another way to apply the same method is to put the gel on the filter mesh directly and then soaking them in the hot water. The results obtained will be the same.
Overall review of method:
- Not the most effective for tough stains.
- Would need extensive scrubbing to get off all grease
- Materials found at home, so no extra substances needed
2. Baking soda
Available easily in shops, this ingredient can help your chimney cleaning woes immensely. This is often hailed as the best cleaning ingredient for many materials, and it does work its magic on chimneys too. The alkaline and abrasive components of baking soda remove grease and oil with ease.
To use baking soda to clean chimney filters, make a paste by adding more baking soda and less water. Then apply a thick coat of it on the filter. Leave it in for about 10 minutes. Wipe it all off with a wet cloth. You’ll see the oil and grease getting removed without any additional scrubbing of the surface.
For best results, take a bucket of hot boiling water, add 3 tablespoons of baking soda, about 2 cups of vinegar and some salt into it and immerse the filter into this solution for a few hours. Then take them out and gently scrub clean, and wash with plain water. Dry well before using it again.
Overall review of method:
- In combination with vinegar, it acts well
- Might need some hard work and scrubbing
- Doesn’t have any health hazards as such
For this one, you probably don’t even need to step out to buy anything!
This ingredient, a popular part of several dishes already, is an all-purpose cleaning agent.
It has acidic, abrasive and disinfectant qualities and is ideal for cleaning your kitchen chimney filter.
For a brief cleaning session, just dip a cloth in vinegar and wipe the filter. That should help remove mild oils and grease.
For a thorough cleaning session, add about two cups of vinegar into a tub of hot boiling water and then immerse the filters. Leave it in for about hours. After taking it out, scrub it clean with a non-abrasive scrubber followed by a wipe with a cloth dipped in clean water. Dry it completely before inserting back into the chimney hood again.
Overall review of method:
- Materials available at home
- Not harmful in any way
4. Caustic soda
This is a potent cleaning agent, but also a risky one that you have to handle with caution. You can buy it online or at any chemical manufacturing store near you. It’s inexpensive but very useful for cleaning tough stains on chimney filters.
You must wear gloves while dealing with this substance, so make sure you have those on when you take out the chimney filters to clean them. Put the filters on a tray or flat tumbler and sprinkle some caustic soda on its surface. You might get chemical burns if you touch this substance with your bare fingers, so please remember to wear gloves at all times. After you’ve put the caustic soda on the filters, pour some boiling water over it while standing at a distance. The distance is essential to ensure that the spluttering or fumes don’t harm you in any way. After that, let the tray be like that for about 3 hours. After that take out the filters (while wearing the gloves) and wash them in normal clean water. Then dry it well.
Overall review of method:
- Has some health risks and should be done with utmost care and caution
- Will remove the toughest stains and greases
- Needs equipment to be brought separately
5. Paint thinners
Paint thinners are something you will find easily in any hardware or industrial paint shop near you. These are liquids that are used to dilute the consistency of a paint that has gone dry. Paint thinners are known to contain substances like toluene, acetone and turpentine that help in cleaning stubborn grease from chimney filters.
All you’ll need to do is dip a clean cloth in paint thinner and wipe the filter. The oils and grease are likely to come off very easily. Paint thinners work by breaking up the particles in oil and grease and thus making it easier to wipe off.
Even while cleaning the chimney hood, paint thinners are a very good option you can try out.
A replacement for paint thinners is nail polish removers, which have a similar composition and can serve the purpose.
Overall review of method:
- Paint thinners have to be bought, so that’s some extra cost
- A quick and effective method
6. Detergent powder
Another cheap substance that helps cleans sticky grease is detergent powder. Boil some water and add some detergent to it, and then boil it again. This helps the powder dissolve well. Then take out the filters from the chimney and immerse them in the solution.
Oil and grease will gradually come off and can be easily wiped off with a damp cloth. Clean with fresh water and dry the filters before inserting them back into the chimney for use again.
Overall review of method :
- A very easy-to-do method
- This method involves no extra costs as the substances are available in your house
- Good results
- It is not harmful in any way
- Doesn’t pose a threat to your skin or health
For all methods listed above, remember to dry the chimney filters well before putting them back into the hood. Remnants of chemicals and cleaning substances can drop into the food you’re preparing and be potential contaminators.
Secondly, while cleaning chimney filters are of utmost importance, remember to clean the inside of your chimneys at least once a year. They too accumulate grease and residue over time, although it’s much lesser in comparison to the filters. For this process, you will need to ask for help from professionals. They’ll disassemble the chimney, the motor and filter to clean it thoroughly. Don’t try the above procedures for the entire chimney.
Next up, we discuss how often one needs to clean their kitchen chimney filters.
How often should you clean your filters?
With the amount of spices and oil general Indian food includes, it is advisable to clean kitchen filters at least once a month. For big households and join families where the kitchen is functional almost all day, you’ll need to clean it every 15 days.
Hiring professional cleaners every time is not only expensive but also makes you very dependant on a service that you can easily do by yourself in your house.
If your cuisine involves mostly boiled substances and very little oil, then cleaning once in two months would also suffice.
Keeping in mind the cleaning aspect, some filters suit Indian kitchens more than others. Here are some common kitchen filters and a short guide on which ones are best for your kitchen and how often they should be cleaned.
- Baffle filters
These have an in-built technology of separating the smoke and the grease and thus don’t get clogged too easily. They would need cleaning about once a month
- Mesh filters
Probably the most common type of filters, these have several layers of aluminium. The pores of the aluminium mesh sheets get grease stuck to them. It is advisable to clean these at least twice a month.
- Charcoal filters
These have charcoal granules in them which absorb all the smoke, grease and other particles. These cannot be cleaned and would need to be replaced. The replacement of charcoal filters is recommended every six months.
Safety precautions to be taken while cleaning chimney filters
While all the procedures listed above are fairly easy to implement, taking necessary safety precautions are also essential. These safety tips will help you avoid any unwanted injury or disaster.
- Switch off the appliance. Don’t try wiping the chimney filters without taking them out completely.
- Wear gloves if possible, as they’ll save your hands from the rough process and harmful chemicals
- Don’t touch your face, especially your eyes and mouth while cleaning the chimney filters. The dirt, chemicals, and grease shouldn’t enter your body in any form
- Since some methods involve boiling and usage of heat, cover the chimney and hood before proceeding with these.
A kitchen is often called the heart of a home, and a chimney is essential in keeping it neat, clean and tidy. Since a dirty chimney serves little to no purpose, regular cleaning is a prerequisite that we recommend for your chimney. Keep your chimney clean and go about your usual cooking habits without a worry.
Cleaning a chimney filter at home isn’t too difficult if you use some simple hacks. Hot water in most cases helps remove oil and grease easily. Cleaning your chimney filters is a must for all. It not only empowers you to be more in charge of your house and kitchen but also helps you save a lot of extra costs. Occasional cleaning also keeps your chimney functional for longer.
Follow our simple guide and clean grease from your chimney filters easily and effectively. A truly sparkling kitchen shouldn’t be so much of a dream anymore.
Frequently Asked Questions
Absolutely. With regularly used kitchens, it is a must.
No. Some modern chimneys come with an in-built technology that auto cleans the filters when a switch is turned on. The grease, oil and dirt are then collected in a removable cup that can be emptied. The drawback of this method is that it might need more maintenance and thus, might incur more costs
Not by yourself, but hire professional services to do it every year.
A damp cloth should be good enough for that. Dip it in some detergent solution if you spot touch stains. This outer hood should be cleaned at least once in two months.