Restaurants aren’t the only facilities with commercial kitchens. Hospitals, religious institutions (churches, synagogues, etc.), hotels, school, and nursing homes all have kitchens that feed large numbers of people and see heavy daily use. So if you run a facility that contains a commercial kitchen, whether it is large or small, this guide is for you! (Or, if you own a business that offers kitchen hood cleaning, use this guide to help inform your customers!)

Why Kitchen Hood Cleaning Matters

Regular maintenance of your kitchen exhaust system will keep your commercial kitchen running at peak efficiency. It not only ensures your system is working properly but also keeps everyone within your facility safe. Kitchen hood cleaning:


  • Reduces the risk of fire. A kitchen hood is supposed to trap grease, grime, and smoke; over time, however, the buildup mixed with heat or open flames could cause the grease to ignite. Grease fires are notoriously dangerous, hot burning, and fast acting so your entire kitchen could be gone in an instant. It’s not a risk worth taking.
  • Reduces dangerous emissions. The dirtier a kitchen hood becomes, the less efficiently it does its job. This means that instead of particles getting sucked up into the hood and vent system like they are supposed to, they wind up escaping into the rest of the facility’s space. This is a potential health risk not only for your kitchen staff but for the rest of the building as well, as particles can easily travel through the air.
  • Keeps insurance costs lower. Insurance companies require commercial kitchens to follow fire safety codes, and if your kitchen is found in violation, you risk not only dealing with costly fees or your insurance premium skyrocketing, but could lose your insurance coverage altogether!


What Kitchen Hood Cleaning Entails

Kitchen hood cleaning is a job that requires prowess, patience, and practice. Many trustworthy professionals attend hood cleaning school to learn the skills necessary for the job because it requires such thorough knowledge and execution.

  • Disassembling, cleaning, and degreasing hoods.
  • Removing fans from ductwork to degrease the base, shroud, and blades.
  • Inspecting exhaust fans for loose or worn out fan belts.
  • Cleaning and degreasing hood filters and accessories, and replacing if necessary.
  • Applying food-safe polish to stainless steel ductwork.
  • Cleaning the surrounding kitchen area (removing plastic wrap, mopping, removing excess debris, etc.)

How Often Should a Kitchen Exhaust System Get Cleaned?

If your commercial kitchen does not serve a high volume of people and it takes longer for grease and grime to build up, you probably only need to get it cleaned it once a year to comply with NFPA regulations. Otherwise, high volume commercial kitchens need to follow exhaust hood cleaning requirements and best practices as outlined in Table 8-3.1 Exhaust System Inspection Schedule in NFPA 96:

  • Monthly: Systems serving solid fuel cooking operations
  • Quarterly: Systems serving high-volume operations, such as 24-hour cooking, charbroiling, wok cooking, etc.
  • Semi-Annually: Systems serving moderate volume cooking operations.
  • Annually: Systems serving low volume cooking operations, such as day camps, churches, seasonal businesses, etc.