Exhaust and ventilation systems play a key role in safety and fire prevention in professional restaurants and commercial kitchens. They effectively keep the cooking space and all food prep areas free from heat, stuffy air, smoke, stale smells, as well as other unwanted airborne particles.

This makes it extremely important to pay serious attention to cleaning the hood exhaust system directly from the hood, through any related ductwork, and the exhaust fan all the way to the roof of the hood. This level of meticulous hood cleaning will go a long way toward protecting the restaurant kitchen from common fire hazards. At the same time, it also provides the entire restaurant environment with a pleasing odor that encourages first-time guests to become longtime loyal customers.

The Benefits Of Professional Restaurant Hood & Ventilation Cleaning

There are several benefits to having your restaurant’s hood and kitchen ventilation system professionally cleaned. This includes:

  • Fire prevention
  • Meeting air quality safety codes
  • Health codes
  • Preserving the lifespan of kitchen equipment
  • Improving the restaurant’s overall air quality
  • Catching any potential maintenance issues
  • NFPA Standards For Commercial Kitchen Exhaust Cleaning

It’s also important to note that the National Fire Protection Association has multiple codes and regulations in place to effectively minimize the risks of fire hazards. Restaurant owners, kitchen managers, and executive chefs are required by law to abide by their safety standards.

Having your commercial kitchen’s food prep areas professionally clean not only saves you a lot of man hours but also ensures that every part of the ventilation system is being cleaned in accordance with all state and local codes. It also means you will have verifiable documentation that can be presented to food, safety, and fire inspectors when they do visit your establishment for routine inspections.

You also get the peace of mind that knowing experienced professionals like the trained technicians at Building Services are handling the job. We have the right tools and training to get the job done faster and with greater precision than say a line cook who needs to take time out of food services to make their best attempt at cleaning the vents.

Professional Techniques For Cleaning Kitchen Exhaust & Ventilation Systems

There are two primary methods for cleaning a professional kitchen hood exhaust & ventilation system. They are manually scraping and pressure washing. Both methods can be effective when deployed in the right way.


This manual cleaning method tends to be relatively low cost, and helps to remove physical debris. It can even help reduce grease and smoke residue. Though it doesn’t really sanitize anything unless an additional cleaning phase is added with a professional-grade sanitizing solution being applied. For this reason, scraping tends to be an initial cleaning method to easily reach grime on kitchen hoods and ventilation systems. It helps to clean away physical debris while helping prep the area for professional pressure washing.

Power Washing

Professional power washing used to only be thought of as a way to clean the exterior of a building and the surrounding sidewalk areas. Though advancements in power washing technology have now made it one of the most effective ways to clean interior hard surfaces like kitchen hoods and ventilation systems. When used in conjunction with steam cleaning, it helps clean away grime and residue quickly, while also sanitizing all affected surfaces. The tradeoff here is that pressure washing does cost more and typically requires additional preparation.

Pressure Washing Preparation

Professional power washing is a somewhat more elaborate cleaning method that often requires some advanced planning and preparation. This technique involves the use of some expensive equipment and tools. The most significant benefit of pressure washing is that it can clean the hood exhaust system all the way down to the bare metal in a matter of moments.

How A Commercial Kitchen Exhaust System Is Pressure Washed

There are several key parts to any kitchen exhaust system. Each can trap grease, smoke, fumes, and other residues. Comprehensively cleaning them requires paying keen attention to each component.

Step One: Disconnect All The Movable Elements

Detaching all the movable elements of a kitchen exhaust system ensures that all surfaces will be meticulously cleaned. It will also go a long way toward ensuring that they operate properly in the long term. This might also include removing hood cleaners and surrounding grease filters as well as using plastic sheeting to give any excess water and grime a place to go while keeping it off of other kitchen surfaces.

Step Two: Cleaning The Hood

Cleaning the hood is generally one of the best places to start. It can also give indications of any other excess residue that might be lingering in other parts of the surrounding ventilation system. This often involves removing the grease from this element or replace the grease pads with new ones.

Step Three: Clean The Exhaust Fan

The exhaust fan itself typically needs to be cleaned. This calls for cleaning the fan blades. In the process, the motor will be inspected to assess that it is in good condition and working properly. This involves inspecting the bearings. If the fan belt is loose, the cleaner will fix it as well.

Step Four: Clean The Duct Work

The ductwork that supports the exhaust vented out of the kitchen can also become a repository for grease, dust, smoke, and other potentially dangerous residues. The NFPA recommends restaurant owners use large access panels, and manually scrape them or have the ductwork professionally power washed.

How Often Does A Kitchen Ventilation System Need To Be Cleaned?

The volume and type of food the commercial kitchen produce, as well as the oven or range type, will influence how often the ventilation and exhaust system need to be cleaned. Things like grill stations and wood-fired ovens typically need to be cleaned more than a standard propane or natural gas range.

A professional cleaning service like Building Services Inc. can inspect your kitchen’s ventilation system and assess how often it needs to be cleaned in order to meet food safety and NFPA codes. This might be monthly or quarterly. Outsourcing your cleaning and inspection needs not only frees up your available man-hours, but you can rest easy knowing that trained experienced professionals are making sure every square inch of your kitchen ventilation system is up to code as well as functioning properly.