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How to Clean Grease off the Most Common Kitchen Surfaces

Cleaning experts reveal the most efficient ways to remove stuck-on grease from the surfaces where cooking oil loves to land.

By Joann Pan, Freelance Writer

Person lifting up the black grating of their stovetop to spray cleaner underneath it from a spray bottle

Shutterstock / tab62


A pesky consequence of our favorite fried foods is the grease buildup it leaves behind. Give your kitchen a face-lift by cleaning the greasy areas most of us have ignored (guilty!)—including your gunk-covered pantry doors, microwave, stovetop, backsplash, oven, overhead exhaust and more. We've asked the cleanest people we know how to get appliances and surfaces spick-and-span without scrubbing and harsh chemicals. Here, they share genius methods for removing grease.


Pantry Doors

If you don't wipe down the cabinet doors above the stove after every veggie stir-fry you make, they're probably spotty. Becky Rapinchuk, author of Simply Clean, has an easy solution to wipe away old oil splatter. In a mixing bowl, drip one or two drops of Castile soap or dish liquid into warm water. Soak a clean microfiber cloth in the soapy water and wring until it's practically dry. Wipe in the direction of the wood and follow with a dry cloth. Spots begone!


Microwave

Rapinchuk also showed us a clever technique to clean grease from your microwave—and to make your kitchen smell amazing. Fill a glass bowl with three to four cups of hot tap water and lemon chunks from one lemon. Carefully place the bowl into the microwave and heat for three to five minutes, or until the water boils. Leave the microwave door closed for a few minutes and allow the steam to attack stuck-on grease and grime. Remove the glass bowl (careful, it's hot!) and take out the glass plate to wash by hand. Wipe down the interior of the microwave. Spritz microwave walls with white vinegar or all-purpose cleaner if you need to. Dry and return the glass plate. The microwave should be good as new. Ready to put it back to work? Try our favorite microwave meals.


Backsplash

Grab another lemon for this one. According to Debra Johnson, home cleaning expert with Merry Maids, the best way to clean a backsplash is all natural. She recommends squeezing the juice of one lemon into a measuring cup and pouring into a spray bottle, being careful to avoid pulp and seeds. Lemon is a fantastic cleaning agent that will take the oil stains right off. Spray onto grease and let sit for a few minutes. Wipe off with a damp cloth and dry the surface with a clean towel.


Overhead Exhaust and Filter

Time to roll up those sleeves and tackle sticky grease residue that won't budge. There are a couple ways to remove bad accumulated grease from the exhaust, says cleaning expert Melissa Maker, the author of Clean My Space: The Secret to Cleaning Better, Faster—and Loving Your Home Every Day. First, remove the filter and soak it in a bucket of hot water and all-natural oxygen bleach for 20 minutes. Rise and allow to dry. To clean the surface of the overhead exhaust, use an enzyme cleaner such as Krud Kutter or any vegetable-based cleaner. "Apply that to the surface and allow it to sit," Maker says. "The enzymes will break down the grease and oil after you give the product time to do its work." Wipe away grime with a clean rag.

Another effective option is to make a DIY degreaser by mixing equal parts baking soda and dish liquid with 20 drops of orange essential oil. The d-limonene in the essential oil will help lift stubborn grease from the surface. Apply the mix to the surface, allow to sit for 10 minutes and scrub with a damp sponge. Rinse well and wipe dry with a microfiber cloth. This DIY degreaser can be used on your backsplash, oven, stovetop and countertop area surrounding the stove. Explore more baking soda solutions here.


Stovetop

Pull off all the stove's removable parts. Plug the kitchen sink and fill it with hot water and dish soap, or fill a big plastic tub with hot soapy water. Drop grates, knobs and burner tops into the water and let the parts soak while you wipe down the stovetop. Rapinchuk says a simple mix of baking soda, kosher salt and dish soap will do the trick on cooked-on food stains and grease. Use a kitchen scrub brush to work into the little nooks. Rise and dry parts, then reassemble.


Oven

Many casseroles and banana bread loaves later, your oven is covered in black carbonized grease. Don't panic. Before you start scrubbing, do yourself a favor and use a nonabrasive scraper to remove anything that's caked on, Maker says. Use a dampened paper towel to pick up anything left behind, then coat the walls of the oven with the DIY degreaser or enzyme cleaner. Let sit for at least 15 minutes before wiping.

Another solution is to coat the inside of the oven with a paste of baking soda and water. Spread the paste all over the interior with a soft-bristled brush and let it sit overnight, Johnson says. "If you're in a hurry, put the oven on warm for 10 to 20 minutes while the baking soda sits. Come back and remove the baking soda and wipe the surface clean. Use a damp cloth as hot as you can stand it."


Stainless Steel Appliances

Here's a cleaning hack you'll want to tell everyone about. It may sound counterintuitive, but you can remove oil with oil, Rapinchuk says. Use a little bit of olive oil on a paper towel or cloth. Wipe in the same direction of the grain of the stainless steel. "Go over the whole thing with a cloth and then use a soft cloth to buff all of that oil off," Rapinchuk says. "It picks it right off." This works well on stubborn grease splatters that've been sitting for a while, so try it on your overhead exhaust hood or the surface of the dishwasher or refrigerator.


After you're done with this kitchen cleanup, pat yourself on the back for saving so much time and effort with these cleaning hacks. Prevent built-up grease stains by wiping down your kitchen surfaces every day and removing grease as soon as you spot it. Next time you're frying something delicious, Rapinchuk recommends using splatter guards and a lid. Oh, and keep a damp cloth handy to wipe away any splatters and spills.