How To Properly Clean Up After a Kitchen Grease Fire

How To Clean Up Cabinets After a Grease FireYou’re probably here because you were cooking, took your eye off the stove for a split second, and then—POOF— your meal suddenly erupted into a ball of flames.

It’s okay. It happens to a lot more people than you think (trust us, we’ve restored a lot of homes and restaurants after grease fires).

If the fire was extinguished quickly, there’s a good chance your kitchen can be cleaned and repaired. Here’s everything you need to know about cleaning up a grease fire.

Cleaning Up After a Kitchen Grease Fire

Grease fires create a thick and foul smoke odor that can permeate throughout your entire home.

You’ll also likely find grease and soot residue covering kitchen walls, ceilings, appliances, and other areas you might not be able to access, such as the walls behind your cabinets.

Soot and grease are notoriously difficult to clean up, and it needs to be done quickly in order to prevent particles from spreading through the air ducts and contaminating other areas of your home.

A quick cleanup response will also prevent soot from permanently staining your items.

In some cases, you can get rid of the residues and odors with household products, but if the damage is extensive, you’ll need to call in the pros.

Safety Hazard
WARNING: Soot is harmful to breathe in or ingest, so wear proper safety equipment such as a face mask, gloves, and goggles when cleaning.

1. Turn Off the AC

Turn off the AC during the cleaning process in order to prevent soot and smoke odor particles from spreading into other rooms. If these particles travel through the air ducts, they’ll embed themselves into anything porous or fibrous, such as drywall, bedding, and clothes.

If fabrics, drapes, or clothes have been affected take them outside to air them out and wash them.

Remember to replace the air filters in your furnace and in your refrigerator after cleanup is done.

2. Open the Windows & Turn On a Ceiling Fan

While this won’t completely remove the smoke smell, this will help get rid of some of the odors and speed up the drying process when you’re cleaning. Set up fans in opposite corners of the kitchen.

This will create a crosscurrent of air that will help push out the odors.

3. Vinegar: The Ultimate Natural Cleaning Product

Cleaning up after a grease fire is going to take well… a lot of elbow grease, so don’t get frustrated if it doesn’t come off immediately. 

Clean oily soot and grease with degreasing agents

Regular white vinegar (aka distilled vinegar) is a great, natural remedy for getting rid of the smoke smell and it also acts as a degreaser.

Dip a sponge or a cloth into a bowl of vinegar, and wring out the liquid.

Wipe down every inch of the kitchen, from the ceilings to the baseboards. You can also use everyday cleaning products to remove residue from fixtures, countertops, sinks, and faucets.

Use a soft cloth and a 50/50 vinegar and water solution for wooden surfaces. Condition your wood after this to restore the moisture.

4. Grease Fire Cabinet Cleanup

After a grease fire you’ll need to clean the outside, inside, and the wall BEHIND your cabinets. If you don’t completely remove the smoke and soot particles, they will continue to stain and stink up your house down the line.

It’s recommended that you hire a professional company to do this, as we have access to industrial-grade cleaning agents, odor removal equipment, and we know how to properly remove cabinet boxes to access the drywall, without causing further damage.

It also might be cheaper to replace your cabinets entirely instead of trying to restore them. Most restoration companies offer free damage assessments and can let you know what’s best for your budget.

If your cabinets were only lightly exposed to soot, then follow these tips to clean them:

  • Use a lambswool duster or a HEPA vacuum to remove dry soot from the interior and exterior of the cabinets.
  • Start wiping down the inside of the cabinets first as they’ll likely have less staining. Use a degreaser cleaning solution with a deodorizer like 909 added to it.
  • Remove drawers and wipe them down.
  • Wipe down the outside of the cabinets.
  • Wash down all surfaces with hot, clean water.

After cleaning, you’ll need to sand, reseal, and repaint the cabinets in order to completely remove the odor.

Again, it might be cheaper (and a lot less physical labor) if you have a restoration company do this, so speak with your insurance company first to see what they’ll cover.

5. Cleaning Metal Appliances

Soot can corrode metal over time, and the longer it stays on there the harder it is to get off.

You can remove smoke residue from metal by mixing dishwashing liquid in a bucket of hot water.

Dip a sponge into the bucket and scrub the metal surfaces using a vertical motion.

If there’s still soot residue left over you can use a 50/50 white vinegar and water cleaning solution. Let the solution sit for 30 minutes. The acids in the vinegar will help break down the soot build-up.

Use a nylon scrub brush to scrape off any stubborn soot. DO NOT use a metal scrub brush. A metal brush may scratch your appliances.

6. Remove the Microwave

If your microwave is located above your stove or was affected by the fire, you might need to throw it out. It’s nearly impossible to get the smoke smell out of the plastic.

A restoration professional can let you know if it’s salvageable.

7. Throw Out Contaminated Food Items

You’ll need to dispose of any food items that were left out during the fire. You’ll also need to throw out any cardboard food items. The toxins from the fire and the soot will have contaminated them.

Canned goods should still be safe to eat.

8. How to Clean Your Oven After a Grease Fire

Cleaning your oven after a grease fire is necessary if you want to get the sooty gunk out, and also if you want to prevent future grease fires. Oven fires commonly occur when there’s a build-up of grease or food on the bottom of the oven that gets ignited.

If the fire damage wasn’t extensive and your oven doesn’t require repair or replacement, you’ll need to clean up any remaining debris and loose food.

Remove the oven racks so that you can access the bottom of the oven. Scrape off built-up food by using a plastic spatula.

Be careful to avoid pushing remnants into the heating element holes.

If there’s still residue left over, clean it using baking soda and water. To make the cleaning paste mix 1/2 cup baking soda and 3 tablespoons of water.

Let it sit overnight for at least 12 hours. Again, make sure to avoid the heating element holes. If there’s still residue leftover, put vinegar in a spray bottle and spray it on the stubborn spots.

Use a damp washcloth to wipe off the baking soda paste.

Once you’re done, use a dry cloth to wipe everything down.

Is Your Stove/Oven Safe to Use After a Grease Fire?

After a grease fire, you should check with an appliance repair company to see if you’re oven is safe to operate.

Also, If you used a fire extinguisher to put out the flames, you’ll need to decontaminate the area. Check out this helpful video that shows you how to safely clean the mess up.

It’s dangerous to inhale or touch these chemicals, so make sure you’re wearing protective gear when you’re cleaning.

Use a vacuum cleaner to remove the powder residue from the oven and any other areas you sprayed.

Then use a scrubbing brush to loosen up any extinguisher residue that might be caked on. Vacuum these materials up as well.

Dampen a cloth, and use it to wipe off any leftover powder residue. Rinse the cloth out frequently, and keep wiping until the oven and other affected surfaces are clean.

For safe measure, you should then clean the oven again using the normal cleaning process and materials.

Most Effective Way to Get Rid of Smoke Smell

If you can’t seem to be able to get rid of burn smoke smell in the house, that means there’s still smoke odor particles that are still present.

The most effective way to get rid of the smoke smell is to hire a professional smoke cleaning company.

To remove the smoke smell from your home, we use industrial-grade sealants and a machine called a Hydroxyl Generator.

Hydroxyl Generators are great because they allow you and your pets to remain in your home during the deodorization process, unlike other deodorizing equipment.

The Hydroxyl Generator mimics the particle and neutralizes it at the molecular level, ensuring that the odor is completely obliterated.

If you live in the Dallas/Fort Worth area and need repair or cleaning services after a kitchen grease fire, contact Regent Restoration. We always provide free estimates and we guarantee we’ll respond to your emergency within 45 minutes or less.