Tiny particles of sticky fats and oils from food disperse into the air during cooking. These particles cling to kitchen walls, appliances and cookware. If not scrubbed clean, the fats coagulate into a greasy build-up that coats kitchen surfaces. Built-up kitchen grease is unsightly and a fire hazard. Powerful, commercial degreasers and chemicals glut store shelves promising a grease-free kitchen, but simple household cleaners adequately remove grease and are safer and less expensive as well.
Many common household products, such as vinegar, baking soda, cooking oil and lemon juice, serve as minor degreasing agents. Acetic acid, also known as white vinegar, removes minor grease build-up and will deodorise and leave the surface squeaky clean to boot. A solution of half hot water and vinegar mixed in a spray bottle removes minor grease build-up. A straight solution of vinegar treats more seriously greasy areas. Baking soda, mixed with hot water into a paste consistency, softens hardened grease and absorbs odours; the paste may need to sit on the grease stains for several hours to soften tough build-up. Cooking oil to clean greasy build-up may seem counter-intuitive, but a little oil dabbed onto a paper towel and rubbed onto the grease will break up greasy gobs. Vinegar combined with a few drops of dish detergent cleans off cooking oil residue. Lemon juice, applied straight or diluted with water, cuts light grease from kitchen surfaces.
Cleaning agents, such as degreasing dish detergents and ammonia, cut through grease and clean surfaces. Dish detergent manufacturers add lemon or citrus oils to detergent solutions; mixed with vinegar and hot water, detergents can cut grease build-up with some scrubbing. Ammonia, a potent chemical, works effectively to cut grease and is safe for the environment as well.
For a very greasy mess or grease build-up, commercial degreasers cut to the quick. Trisodium phosphate (TSP), found in home improvement centres or cleaning supply stores, removes severe grease spills and build-up. Manufacturers also offer various biodegradable degreasers and specially-formulated solutions for cleaning appliances of hardened, baked-on grease.
Kitchen grease is highly flammable; never use open flames or boiling water to remove grease. Use ammonia with caution as the fumes are hazardous and may cause eye and skin irritation. Never mix ammonia with other chemicals, such as bleach or vinegar, as the solution will produce toxic fumes. Commercial degreasers often include caustic chemicals in their ingredients; manufacturers recommend rubber gloves and adequate ventilation during use to avoid injuries to the skin and respiratory system.