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October 28, 2012 6:36 PM   Subscribe

I rent an apartment. I like to cook. My kitchen is more-or-less (see below) unventilated. So I have grease everywhere. What can I do?

My apartment's kitchen has the world's stupidest ventilation system -- the only ventilation is an exhaust fan above the range which exhausts directly into a cabinet, with no connection whatsoever to the outdoors. Turn on the fan, and the cabinet doors blow slightly open. There are no windows in the kitchen. The landlord, unsurprisingly, doesn't give a shit, and I'm not handy enough to do any ductwork myself.

As a result of this ventilation system, every surface in my kitchen quickly becomes coated with a fine layer of grease. Silicone spatulae and glass jars seem to be the worst-affected, but really, it's gross all around.

Is there anything I can do to mitigate this? Like maybe there's something that's oleophilic that I can just hang up that will catch all the floating grease and then I can put it through the washing machine? Or some other solution I am not thinking of?
posted by novalis_dt to Home & Garden (16 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
 
Are you using splatter screens over open pans? If not, that will help lessen a fair amount of the flying grease.
posted by scody at 6:44 PM on October 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


My splatter screen keeps most of that grease from getting everywhere. These handy gadgets are one of the few single-purpose kitchen tools that Alton Brown endorses, just because they're so darn useful.
posted by Rykey at 6:44 PM on October 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


Curse you, Scody!
posted by Rykey at 6:45 PM on October 28, 2012 [2 favorites]


I don't know where you live (and if your landlord would give a shit enough to do anything), but the ventilation you are describing is most likely not to code and should be mitigated by the property owner.

That said, yeah, splatter screen.
posted by Specklet at 7:16 PM on October 28, 2012 [2 favorites]


Depending on how pretty you want your kitchen to look, here's a suggestion I saw implemented in an apartment kitchen that used a lot of grease. Tape big sheets of aluminum foil on the walls, edge to edge, as a sort of splatter catcher. It makes cleaning easier (just pull down the dirty stuff and replace), and will make the eventual moving out easier on you too, as you won't have stubborn grease stains in unpleasant and hard-to-reach places.

But yeah, nthing the suggestion of splatter screens.
posted by LN at 7:26 PM on October 28, 2012


To clarify: The problem isn't so much the spattering grease on the walls or on the range, but the aerosolized (?) grease that coats surfaces far away from the range. So I'm not sure that spatter screens would help. Also, I used to have a spatter screen but it didn't really fit in the dishwasher. Perhaps I should get one that would.
posted by novalis_dt at 7:37 PM on October 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


Is most of the grease passing through the cupboard before settling on everything else? If so, could you rig up a makeshift filter in there? I'm thinking just buy a standard cooker-hood replacement filter and construct a frame which will put hold it in the path of the fan's output.

Also nthing splatter screen: might cut down the aerosolized stuff, might not, but cheap enough to be worth trying.
posted by pont at 7:46 PM on October 28, 2012 [2 favorites]


Maybe part of the solution could be change how you cook so you use less grease?


(Intended seriously. I used to take a grease fire in my oven as a hint that it was time to clean the oven. I have respiratory problems and chemical sensitivities, so I didn't really want to clean my oven all that often. Part of my solution was to learn less greasy cooking techniques so my oven caught on fire less frequently. YMMV.)
posted by Michele in California at 8:09 PM on October 28, 2012


Have you tried replacing/washing the screen in the fan?
posted by geek anachronism at 8:15 PM on October 28, 2012


Well, I don't usually use the fan because of the total uselessness of ventilating into a cupboard (not that the cupboard is useful for anything else).

But maybe I could find an additional filter that would work in there and start to use that fan more. I've also just (as in, while waiting for more suggestions to come in) started cleaning the existing screen.
posted by novalis_dt at 8:32 PM on October 28, 2012


Taping silter mesh across the opening of the cupboard? So open the doors (if you can - our range goes up through the doors above the stove so if we opened them while we cooked we'd lose an eye) while you cook, but close them otherwise?
posted by geek anachronism at 8:57 PM on October 28, 2012


The spatter screen will still help; the grease that goes onto it won't end up in the air.
posted by Specklet at 11:02 PM on October 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


The fan should have a filter in it - the grease will generally not make it past that filter, otherwise it would coat the inside of a working vent and be a fire hazard. If the filter is old and dirty, it won't do you much good. Your venting setup won't keep the smoke detectors from going off like a properly vented hood would, but it should cut down on odors and grease coating the kitchen. Clean or replace the fan filter.

Also, spatter screens.
posted by Slap*Happy at 7:20 AM on October 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


Change the filter in the fan or clean it and use the fan. The filter will catch a lot of the grease that is what it is there for. You should keep it clean with regular washings as you are going to need it to be running at it's best to make a difference in your case. . Of course if there is no filter of any sort in the range hood you might have to have a word with the landlord or buy one that fits. I think that this could be a safety issue though and the landlord should really fix the whole thing to vent outside properly.
posted by wwax at 9:06 AM on October 29, 2012


Another vote for the screen on the vent fan is missing or filthy. Once that's cleared up, if there's still too much getting through you might be able to rig up a second stage by using a booster fan and a second filter before exhausting back into the kitchen.
posted by snuffleupagus at 9:54 AM on October 29, 2012


They also make splatter guards that surround the pan, which probably work very well with the screened splatter guards.

One note about splatter screens: Make sure to get one with enough airflow. Some perforated styles can end up steaming food.
posted by Room 641-A at 11:07 AM on October 29, 2012


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