Kitchen Exhaust Cleaning


Building owners especially restaurant owners, should comply not only with proper sanitation standards but also with proper cleaning of their exhaust systems. Kitchen exhaust cleaning is the process of removing greases that have accumulated inside the exhaust systems of commercial kitchens. A proper cleaning of the entire kitchen exhaust system includes the hoods, filters, fans and all associated horizontal and vertical ductworks. It is important to monitor this because when left unclean, these exhaust systems can accumulate grease over time which is extremely prone to fire hazards. Approximately one of three restaurant fires are caused by grease. However, when an exhaust system is cleaned regularly, chances of a duct fire is extremely low. Exhaust systems must undergo inspection at certain intervals, with constant usage, to know if sufficient grease has accumulated and if cleaning is already necessary.


The actual commercial kitchen exhaust system cleaning guidelines are stated in the National Fire Protection Association Standard 96 otherwise known as the Standard for Ventilation Control and Fire Protection of Commercial Cooking Operations. This regulation provides the minimum fire safety standards related to the design, installation, operation, inspection, and maintenance of all public and private cooking operations. All commercial kitchen operators and kitchen exhaust hood cleaners must observe strict compliance with this regulation.


The answer lies on NFPA-96 Standard section 11.4, “the entire exhaust system shall be inspected for grease build up by a properly trained, qualified and certified person(s) acceptable to the authority having jurisdiction and in accordance with Table 11.4”

Type or Volume of Cooking Frequency Frequency
Systems serving solid fuel cooking operations Monthly
Systems serving high-volume cooking operations such as 24-hour cooking, charbroiling or work cooking  


Systems serving moderate-volume cooking operations Semi-annually
Systems serving low-volume cooking operations, such as churches, day camps, seasonal business or senior centers  




There are two primary methods of cleaning kitchen exhaust:
• Scraping- This method is the more economical and is extremely effective when done properly. It’s accomplished by a person simply scraping the accumulation of grease from the walls of the exhaust system. Although scraping is an effective method of removing grease for the exhaust system, it’s not the most thorough method because there are certain areas which are unreachable due to human’s limit.
• Pressure washing or steam cleaning- This method is the alternative to scraping. Though the down point of this method is that it is more costly and time-consuming since it requires considerable preparatory work to control wastewater and more expensive equipment is needed. However, this method will clean ductwork down to “bare metal” which is the recommendation of the NFPA-96 Standard. This method delivers impressive results and provides an absolute thorough cleaning of every corner of the exhaust system.

Kitchen Exhaust Cleaning At Regular Intervals

Most kitchen exhaust cleaning companies offer both methods for cleaning kitchen exhaust systems. They even recommend doing both methods at regular intervals to maintain maximum efficiency and prevent grease build up.

A responsible commercial kitchen operator must know the importance of maintaining the exhaust system clean of grease, prevent build up and reduce the risk of a fire hazard. After all, a well cleaned and a well maintained commercial kitchen brings safety to the employer, employees and its customers.

Comments are closed