Grease Fire Clean Up Tips
If you’ve experienced a cooking disaster in the kitchen, our restoration experts at Five Star Restoration offer these useful grease fire clean up tips to get your kitchen back up and running.
A grease fire can happen in a flash and can quickly spread to kitchen walls, cabinets, and ceilings. Without quick response, the fire can even spread to the other parts of your house and cause irreparable damage within minutes.
Often, a moment of distraction is all it takes – a pan or pot left unattended or oil overheating in a skillet, and you can find yourself grappling with a raging fire in your kitchen.
Because it can happen to anyone, it’s important that you know how to put out a grease fire, get rid of the resulting smoke in the house, and clean up your kitchen to prevent permanent damage.
How to Put Out A Grease Fire
In the event of a grease fire, the most important thing to remember is to act quickly and stay calm. Panicking can lead to actions that can make the situation worse. Here are our tips on how to properly put out a grease fire:
Turn off the heat source
Do NOT move the pot or pan from the stove
Cut off oxygen (put a lid on the pot if possible)
Do NOT pour water on a grease fire
Do NOT try to put out the fire by fanning it with a dry or wet cloth
Use baking soda on the flames
Do NOT use flour
As a last resort, use a fire extinguisher
Stop, drop, and roll
Preventing Grease Fires
Knowing how to put out a grease fire is a skill that every homeowner should know. However, the best approach when it comes to a grease fire will always be prevention.
Here are our expert tips on how to prevent grease fires:
Never cook distracted. Keeping things unattended while cooking is the leading cause of fires.
Don’t drink and cook. Make sure you’re alert or have not consumed alcohol when using the stove.
Keep things out of the way. Flammable objects should be kept away from the stovetop.
Remove moisture. Before you put anything in hot oil, make sure that it has as little moisture as possible to prevent splattering of hot oil.
Control the temperature. When working with oil, slowly heat it to the proper temperature and keep it at the recommended temperature. Then, let it cool down by turning off the burner.
Prevent splattering. Gently add food to the pan when cooking with oil.
Keep a lid handy. Put a pot lid in a convenient and accessible place so you have one ready in case a grease fire happens.
Keep children away. Curious hands can cause pots and pans to topple and fall. Not only does this pose a fire risk, it can cause serious injury.
Cleaning Up After a Grease Fire
Putting out a grease fire is just half of the equation. Cleaning up after it is your next step. The good news is if you were able to extinguish the fire quickly, chances are high that your kitchen can be cleaned and repaired.
If the damage from soot and smoke is not very extensive, you can take the DIY approach in kitchen fire cleanup. However, getting rid of the smoke smell, the resulting soot, and debris after the fire can be an onerous and intensive process.
Our fire restoration experts at Five Restoration offer these grease fire clean up tips to make the job easier:
BEFORE YOU START: Soot can pose a health hazard if ingested or inhaled. It poses serious health risks when ingested or inhaled. Wear a face mask, rubber gloves, and goggles when dealing with soot.
Grease Fire Clean Up Tip #1: Turn off the AC
Allowing the AC to run during the cleanup process increases the risk of soot and smoke odor particles migrating to the other parts of the house.
These particles can travel through the air ducts, and subsequently, attach themselves to porous or fibrous materials including drywall, beddings, clothes or wallpaper.
If you find that fabrics, curtains or clothes were indeed already affected, the best recourse is to air them outside, then carefully wash them.
If your HVAC system was on when the fire occurred, change out its filters, as well as those of your refrigerator.
Grease Fire Clean Up Tip #2: Start Clearing the Air
Ventilate the affected area by opening windows and doors to the outside. Create a crosscurrent of air that helps push out odors by setting up fans in opposite corners of the kitchen.
This will not completely remove the smell of smoke. However, this will help get rid of some of the odors. The fans will also help speed up the drying process when you’ve started cleaning.
Grease Fire Clean Up Tip #3: Clean the Surfaces
Cleaning up after a grease fire will take a lot of patience and good old fashioned elbow grease. It may test your fortitude because soot is sticky and may not come off with one pass.
Here are the cleaning products we recommend when cleaning out surfaces:
Trisodium Phosphate. This industrial strength chemical mixed with water is effective in removing sticky soot residue. It’s a potent cleaning agent, so remember to wear rubber gloves and avoid splashing.
This can damage ceramic tiles and chrome fixtures.
Degreaser Products. Though not as strong as TSP, degreasers can cut through the film of soot on all types of surfaces. Be sure to check the label for what surfaces it’s suitable for.
Dry Soot Sponges. These sponges are specially designed to remove residue without water or cleaning products.
Distilled Vinegar. This common household ingredient is effective in cutting through grease while also absorbing smoke odor.
For a more efficient cleanup process, we recommend doing an initial application of the cleaning product and giving it a good rinse. After letting the surface dry, clean again and repeat the rinsing and drying steps until you get all the soot out.
This helps preserve finishes on walls and cabinets painted with a semi-gloss.
For surfaces finished with a flat paint, they usually need to be repainted after the fire. However, you still have to clean them if you don’t want the soot to stain through the new paint and primer.
Grease Fire Clean Up Tip #4: Check the microwave
If your microwave is located above the stove, there’s a possibility of it being damaged by the fire. If you feel it can still be salvaged, clean the surface carefully with the appropriate cleaning product.
We recommend having it assessed by a professional restorer, or you may just replace it if you feel it’s been damaged beyond repair.
Grease Fire Clean Up Tip #5: Clean the insides of cabinets and drawers
Closed doors and drawers don’t offer protection against smoke and soot. After a grease fire, you need to clean not only the outside and inside of cabinets, but also BEHIND them.
Failing to completely remove smoke and soot particles will cause permanent staining and lingering odors inside your home long post-fire.
If your cabinets, pantries, or drawers were only lightly exposed to smoke and soot, follow these cleaning tips:
Empty out their contents. Toss out any packaged food.
Remove dry soot from the interiors and exteriors using a HEPA vacuum or a lambswool duster.
Wipe down the inside of cabinets as these would likely have less staining.
If needed, use a degreaser solution combined with a deodorizer to clean.
Remove drawers and wipe them down.
Wipe down the outside of cabinets.
Use clean, hot water to rinse all surfaces.
After cleaning, you may need to sand, reseal, and repaint cabinets to completely remove any lingering odor.
For extensive damage, it’s better to call professionals to handle the cleaning. They have the appropriate products and tools to conduct grease fire clean ups that prevent further damage. It might even be cheaper to have them do the job.
Ask your insurance company about your plan coverage.
Grease Fire Clean Up Tip #6: Clean appliances and check for any signs of damage
Soot allowed to sit on metal can corrode surfaces over time. The longer the soot stays on, the harder it is to deal with.
Use dishwashing liquid mixed with hot water in a bucket. Use this to remove smoke residue from metal. Scrub with a sponge using a vertical motion.
If there’s still smoke residue, you can use a vinegar-water cleaning solution using a 50/50 ratio. Apply it to the surface and let it sit for 30 minutes. This will allow the acid in the vinegar to act on the soot buildup.
Use a nylon scrub brush (not a metal scrub brush) to remove any residual soot.
Check appliance gasket seals around doors for any signs of damage. Don’t forget to clean the condenser coils on the back of the refrigerator.
We recommend having appliances checked by a restoration professional to make sure they are still usable including the microwave, refrigerator and the stove/oven.
Throw out any contaminated food items, including those packaged in cardboard. These would’ve been contaminated by toxins from the fire and soot.
Grease Fire Clean Up Tip #7: Clean The Oven
After a grease fire, it’s important to clean the oven to prevent soot from damaging and grease fires in the future. Grease build-up or food on the bottom of the oven are often the culprit for oven fires.
To ensure safety after a grease fire, have your oven thoroughly checked by an appliance repair company.
Grease Fire Clean Up: Call In The Professionals
Our grease fire cleanup tips are effective for minor fires that may occur in the kitchen. However, when fire damage has been more extensive, a DIY cleanup may not be the recommended course of action.
Aside from being laborious, you may not have the right products and equipment to properly perform a cleanup without causing further damage.
There might also be hidden damage, and this can get worse when left unaddressed. Because of these risks, calling in professionals for clean up after a grease fire may be the better alternative.
As a professional restoration company, Five Star Restoration can assess the damage, look into areas where hidden damage may be lurking, and do a thorough cleanup to remove soot and smoke odors.
Get peace of mind as we restore your home. Call us at 951-368-2227.
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