making kitchen exhaust cleaning easier

Optimizing Kitchen Exhaust Cleaning: Understanding the Cleaning Triangle

In the specialized field of kitchen exhaust cleaning, achieving the highest standards of cleanliness and efficiency is crucial. A key concept that guides professionals in this industry is the "cleaning triangle," made popular by Phil Ackland, which consists of three fundamental elements: chemical, heat, and agitation. Understanding how to balance these elements can lead to more effective cleaning, reduced water usage, and enhanced profitability. Let’s explore each side of the triangle and the various methods available for kitchen exhaust cleaning.

Chemical: The Power of Cleaning Agents

Chemicals play a vital role in breaking down grease and grime. The choice of chemical depends on the type of grease and the condition of the exhaust system. For instance, alkaline degreasers are effective against organic fats, while acidic cleaners might be needed for inorganic deposits.

  • Foam Cleaning: A unique and efficient method involves applying a foam that adheres to vertical and horizontal surfaces, allowing it to work longer on the grease. This dwell time is crucial as the chemical does most of the heavy lifting, softening and breaking down grease deposits. As a result, less water and heat are required to remove the grease.

Heat: Enhancing Chemical Effectiveness

Heat accelerates the chemical reactions needed to break down grease. By increasing the temperature, you can improve the efficiency of the cleaning agents, allowing them to work faster and more effectively.

  • Steam Cleaning: Utilizing steam as a form of heat not only helps in melting down grease but also sanitizes the surfaces. This method is particularly effective when combined with chemical cleaners, as it helps to rinse away the loosened grease.

Agitation: Physical Removal of Grease

Agitation involves physically disturbing the grease to help in its removal. This can be done using various tools and techniques, depending on the amount of buildup and the accessibility of the system.

  • Scraping: Manual scraping is a straightforward approach that involves using tools to physically remove layers of grease from the ducts and hoods. This method is effective for heavy buildups.
  • High-Pressure Washing: Using high-pressure water jets can effectively remove grease that has been loosened by chemicals and heat. This method is less labor-intensive than scraping and can conserve water if pre-scraping is done effectively.

Balancing the Triangle

The cleaning triangle emphasizes the interdependent nature of chemical, heat, and agitation. By optimizing one element, you can often reduce the need for the others, which leads to more efficient cleaning processes. For example:

  • If you use a powerful degreaser that has sufficient time to act on the grease, the need for high levels of heat and pressure washing decreases. This saves on water and blasting, so no more full trash cans to lug over to the mop sink.
  • Conversely, if extensive physical scraping is done initially, the subsequent need for heavy chemical use and heat application can be minimized, conserving water and chemical agents.


Understanding and applying the principles of the cleaning triangle in kitchen exhaust cleaning can lead to significant improvements in efficiency, effectiveness, and environmental impact. By judiciously balancing chemical, heat, and agitation, cleaning professionals can achieve optimal results while adhering to industry standards and regulations.

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