Grease can be tough to remove from many surfaces, including metal. But what’s the best way to remove old grease from metal, without scratching or damaging the surface further?
While you can quickly do some of the techniques with some everyday household products, others require specific application to get rid of grease when it has taken hold and ingrained.
Keep reading to find out how best to clean up grease so that it’s no longer an issue.
1. Perform an Initial Dry Wipe
Try wiping any grease off by first using paper towels.
If the job area is significant, then a plastic scraper may be the better choice. I recommend the Bates Plastic Scrapers (from Amazon.com) because they work great for peeling off large amounts of grease, particularly from flat, smooth surfaces like those found on cooktops.
2. Use a Soap and Water Mixture to Break Down Grease Stains
Detergents have excellent grease-cutting properties. Any regular dish soap will do the job of breaking down grease so that you can remove it from metal surfaces.
However, there are some detergents and dish soaps that perform better than others.
For example, Dawn Dish Detergent is a perfect choice as it contains both detergents and surfactants.
You can make up a cleaning solution with a quarter of Dawn and three-quarters water. Spray onto the grease and wipe off with paper towels after leaving to sit for 20 minutes.
Alternatively, you can put a bit of detergent directly onto the grease and let it sit for half an hour before rinsing off.
It is common for grease to splatter onto many parts, particularly in the kitchen. You can remove the knobs, grills, and other removable parts of a stovetop, put them in a container filled with the above cleaning solution, and leave them to soak for a few hours.
3. Apply an Enzyme Cleaner for Heavier Residue
An enzyme cleaner may be your only option if you’re dealing with a very old or encrusted grease stain.
Enzymes are catalysts that speed up chemical reactions, working particularly well to break down grease.
If you suspect you’ve got grease clogging your drains, an enzyme-based drain cleaner will do wonders. Green Gobbler Liquid Hair & Grease Clog Remover is an ultra-viscous cleaning product that coats metal surfaces and effectively removes grease.
The added benefit of such cleaners is that enzymes are natural and occurring in the environment already, making such cleaners better than toxic alternatives.
4. Add a Baking Soda Paste to Lift Dried Grease
If grease is left to sit for too long, it can form a caked-on stain that is very hard to remove from metal.
Get baking soda mixed with water at four parts to one mixture. It will form a cleaning paste that is thick and white. Apply the paste to the grease stain and leave it to sit.
Alternatively, you can leave baking soda on the stain without any water, allowing it to soak overnight.
Baking soda works as it has a slightly higher pH level than neutral. This means it is basic, not acidic, and this is why it is such a great cleaner.
Cleaning with baking soda also has the added benefit of being a deodorizer. The more time baking powder sits, the more time it has to work, so it is excellent for getting rid of ancient grease stains.
Removing Grease From an Oven
Ovens will benefit from the baking soda paste method described above, but you can also use the heating element to your advantage with the oven. After applying the baking soda paste to the greasy areas inside the oven, then leave on warm for 20 minutes.
Afterward, wipe off the baking soda paste and inspect whether it’s done the job. Due to their heating nature, ovens tend to bake the grease into all sorts of crevices inside the oven, so it may take multiple attempts to get rid of the grease.
5. Mix Lemons and Water to Clear Microwave Grease
The inside walls of microwaves are likely to have a covering of grease on their metal walls.
One novel way to clean it is to grab a microwave-safe bowl and fill it with a few cups of hot water and lemon chunks.
Set the microwave to run for a few minutes, enough to make the water start to boil.
Leave the water in the microwave with the door closed for a few more minutes. The resulting steam mixed with the acidic lemon pieces will help break down grease, allowing you to easily wipe it off with a paper towel or microfiber cloth.
6. Use Rubbing Alcohol and a Cloth to Dissolve the Stain
Rubbing alcohol is a great substance to help remove old grease from metal.
Also known as isopropyl alcohol, rubbing alcohol comes in various strengths, generally 70% or 90%. Counterintuitively, it is the 70% that works better as a disinfectant as the higher water content helps transfer the substance into the cells better, and it may also help with degreasing.
Grab an old rag or cloth and use small amounts of rubbing alcohol directly onto the grease. After letting it sit, try to rub it off with the cloth. Be aware that alcohol will evaporate quickly and so may be better applied via putting on the cloth first and then trying to rub the affected area.
As isopropyl alcohol is a solvent, it dissolves grease allowing you to wipe it away.
A degreaser is a surfactant, as it decreases surface tension and allows the solution to expose and break up the molecules of grease.
7. Sprinkle Flour to Absorb Excess Grease
Flour and other similar substances will soak up grease, allowing for easier cleaning.
All-purpose flour is your best bet, and given that you can sprinkle it, you can use it on various surface types, including cramped areas to help mop up grease, even on old metal.
The best type of flour to use is unbleached, all-purpose flour, like the King Arthur All-Purpose Flour (from Amazon.com) which comes in 32 ounces (900 grams) packages. This versatile flour can be used to dry up excess grease, and can be used for a tasty cake later!
Put the flour on the grease and leave it for 20 minutes or until the flour has become packed with grease. The flour will turn into a greasy paste, giving you the sign that it is time to wipe it off. If grease remains, you can reapply the flour.
8. Use Vinegar to Loosen Sticky Stains
Vinegar works wonders on removing grease from chrome and other similarly shiny metals.
Mix up an equal part of white vinegar to warm water and put it in a spray bottle. Spray the mixture onto the grease, then wipe off with a paper towel.
Make sure to use non-distilled white vinegar. Distilled white vinegar is not as concentrated as white vinegar, making it better for cooking but not as effective as a cleaning agent.
To get the chrome looking shiny after the cleanup, you can try using a clean microfiber cloth, like the Coakley Fish Scale Microfiber Cleaning Cloth. It works excellently cleaning chrome and mirrors, glass, and screens.
Keep in mind that chrome can be permanently stained by grease, so it’s best not to wash any chrome pots or pans in already dirty or greasy dishwashing water.
You should avoid using steel wool for any polished or finished product as it is too abrasive and will leave scratches. Parts of steel can also break off from the steel wool and embed themselves into the surface, leaving rust spots as the steel wool oxidizes.
9. Try Professional Cleaners and Degreasers
For grease that has built up on your vehicle or another metal surface, citrus-based cleaners can cut through buildups of grease that have been accumulating for years.
I recommend tough cleaners like the Meguiar’s Super Degreaser. It comes in a 1 gallon (4.5 liters) bottle, and is meant for usages such as automotive and other heavy-duty applications. On top of this, the residue-free formula means you don’t get unsightly cleaning stains on the metal itself.
If that doesn’t work, try using a degreaser instead. Degreaser is a specialist cleaning product developed specifically to tackle the sticky problem that is grease.
A top-notch degreaser, like the Goo Gone Kitchen Degreaser, is a very popular and well-rated spray bottle action degreaser. It works on counters, stoves, range hoods, pots, pans, and many other surfaces.
Goo Gone is also rated safe for various surfaces, including finished wood, sealed stone, marble, glass, plastics, and ceramic and porcelain.
To effectively use a degreaser, you need to spray on the product and let it sit. Goo Gone uses penetrating foam that utilizes surface area mechanisms to get into stubborn grease spots and work on them from all sides.
After giving the foam about two minutes, you can use a paper towel, sponge, or soft brush to clean up the remainder of the grease.
For really stubborn or commercial cleaning, the top-rated product I recommend is Simple Green Oxy Solve Concentrate (available on Amazon.com), which is a driveway and concrete cleaner that will help remove grease, stains, or other deep stains.
Tips for Managing Grease
Managing the sources of grease can help to minimize the amount of grease you have to deal with. It is essential to recognize that if you’re dealing with cleaning a lot of grease, it may not be necessary, or there may be low-grease alternatives.
Reduce the Sources of Grease
Bacon is, of course, famous as high grease meat, and any other fatty meats will also be a huge source of grease. Lean meats, such as deer, turkey, or kangaroo, may be the better choice if you’re looking at reducing the amount of grease you produce during cooking.
Various cooking methods will increase or decrease the amount of grease produced. For example, roasting meat with vegetables will see grease accumulate onto the bottom of the baking tray.
You can use a roasting rack inside the baking tray to help keep the grease on the pan poured out into your grease container or disposed of properly.
Frying is one of the greasiest things to do in the kitchen, allowing grease to splatter everywhere. An anti-splatter shield can help minimize the distance grease can travel and keep it off metal surfaces.
Items like the Shappy Anti Splatter Shield Guard can fit around your cooktop to deter grease. It’s freestanding and made from aluminum, giving it maximum strength but also making it lightweight.
Dispose of Grease Properly
When you’re done dealing with grease, think about how you will properly dispose of any remaining grease. Removing any excess by disposing of it in the bin or via a grease container significantly reduces the amount of old grease you will have to remove later.
Never pour grease down the sink, kitchen, or otherwise. Grease will cool down and coagulate, blocking up your plumbing and requiring an expensive visit from a plumber.
Grease also plays a significant issue with blocking up the sewer system. Certain areas of underground pipes and drains can start to have clumps of grease, fat, and other substances stick together, forming what is known as a fatberg.
To properly dispose of grease, look at getting a grease container. The Zulay Kitchen Bacon Grease Container comes with a filter and can be used with ghee, bacon fat, used cooking oil, and many other types of oil or grease.
You can use this collected grease on other meals you cook, transmitting that flavor, smell, and other properties. Once collected, you can put the bacon grease in the refrigerator to keep it good for about six months, provided there are no actual meat parts of the bacon.
Removing excess grease from metal can seem challenging, but there are numerous ways to effectively do so. Applying natural cleaners, such as baking soda and vinegar, can help break down the stain quicker.
Other options, such as professional degreasers and detergents, can also provide fantastic results by dissolving the stain, and making it easier to wipe away.