How to Clean Oil Splatter in Your Kitchen

Learn how to tackle even the toughest stains to keep your kitchen oil-free.

Noah Clark|May 26, 2022
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After cleaning up a meal like fried chicken or

stir-fry

, you’ve likely noticed oil splatter on your stovetop, counters, cookware,  and even on your kitchen backsplash. Not only can this mess feel impossible to clean, but it may convince you that cooking messy meals isn’t worth the hassle.

Luckily, we’ve got you covered with a handful of cleaning methods that will keep your kitchen in great shape, no matter how messy your meal.

What Causes Oil Splatter?

Knowing what causes oil splatter in the first place can be an effective way to keep it from happening (or at least reduce the amount of cleanup needed). Cooking oil (like grapeseed, olive, or canola) doesn’t pop or cause splatter on its own—that occurs when water droplets from food are mixed in.

When moisture from food meets a hot, oily pan, the water molecules evaporate into steam, expand, and displace the oil. This is why oil splattering happens with foods that introduce lots of water or moisture to a pan, like pre-washed vegetables, meat, or tofu.

Because of this,  there’s no way to completely prevent oil splatter, but there are a few things you can try to help cut down on the amount of oil produced by your cooking.

Reduce moisture in ingredients by drying them thoroughly before adding to a hot pan

Ensure skillet is completely dry before adding cooking oil

Heat your pan gradually by starting at a low temperature

How to Clean Oil Splatter

Now that you know what causes oil splatter, here are some effective methods to clean it up.

Water and Dish Soap

With easy-clean pans like

Non Stick

, oil splatters can be easily cleaned with some hot water, mild dish soap, and the soft side of a dish sponge. Dish soap usually is specially formulated to help combat oil, so it will help cut through these stains and release them from your pans.

For this method, you will want to get your water as hot as you can, and use a fair amount of soap. Be sure to use medium-heavy pressure while working the soap into the stains using circular movements. Think, wax-on, wax-off.

Continue to scrub the soap into the stains and rinse as you go to check your work. Once done, dry your Cookware well.

If you notice the soap isn’t quite cutting it, it’s  time to move on to the Vinegar Method.

Vinegar

Despite making a delicious salad dressing, oil and vinegar do not mix. Therefore, this combination can be especially helpful if you have pesky oil stains that just don’t want to come out of your beloved Stainless Clad Pan or kitchen counter.

Vinegar is a natural solvent, and can be used as a household degreaser and all purpose cleaner. This makes it ideal for cleaning the more stubborn oil splatter on your Cookware, stovetop, counters, or backsplash. You can do this two different ways.

For the first method, fill a spray bottle with distilled vinegar, and spray liberally on the oil spots that won’t come up. We like distilled white vinegar because it's cheap and doesn’t contain any sugar, which could make the mess sticky and even harder to clean.

Let it sit for about 30 minutes so the vinegar can force the fat molecules from the surface, then scrub with a sponge to remove any residue. Rinse with hot, soapy water when done and dry the surface thoroughly.

Alternatively, you can fill your sink or a large plastic container with enough vinegar to submerge the affected area on your pans and let it soak for 30 minutes, then scrub with a sponge and rinse. Be sure to dry your Cookware when complete.

Vegetable Oil and Coarse Salt

Let's say you have some excess oil splatter on your

Carbon Steel Frying Pan

, but you understandably don’t want  to strip your hard-earned

seasoning

. In that case, vegetable oil and salt are the way to go.

When cleaning with oil and coarse salt, you don’t need much of either. We recommend using a 2:1 ratio of salt to oil as needed, or 2 tablespoons of coarse salt and 1 tablespoon oil to start. Be sure you’re not using finely ground table salt here—you’ll need the larger crystals because they’re more abrasive.

Then, grab a paper towel and scrub in a circular fashion on the affected areas using light to medium pressure. The abrasive nature of the salt when coupled with the oil will act as a manual solvent, which releases the excess oil splatter while being seasoning-friendly. The oil keeps the pan’s surface from drying out, as salt will hold onto some oil.

When you’re happy with your results, wipe out the salt/oil mixture with a clean paper towel.

Vinegar and Baking Soda

When combined, vinegar and baking soda produce a chemical reaction that results in further penetration into oil splatter. This helps to really cleave the oil molecules from your surfaces.

To start, create a paste from a 2:1 ratio of baking soda to vinegar by sprinkling baking soda on all affected surfaces, then dousing in vinegar.

From here, let the vinegar and baking soda sit for 30 minutes to give time for the reaction to take place.

After the 30 minutes is up, scrub and rinse with hot water and mild dish soap with a sponge to help remove the loosened stains. Give the pan or surface a wipe down to dry and you will be good to go.

Lemon Juice & Coarse Salt

Citrus fruits like lemons contain a naturally occurring acid called (you guessed it) citric acid. This acid typically has a pH level of 2–3, and in lemons is actually closer to 2.2–2.6. This is quite acidic while still being gentle on your stomach and your Cookware, and helpful as a way to clean oil or fat molecules from surfaces.

Note: Since lemons are acidic, if you use this method on Carbon Steel Cookware we recommend

reseasoning

it afterwards.

Take a halved lemon and dip it in some coarse salt to coat the cut face. You only want salt on the flesh side of the lemons and not the peel, so no need to pour an entire canister of salt out—but do your best to get a good amount of salt onto the surface.

Then, in a circular motion, scrub any oil splatter spots you are looking to tackle using light to medium pressure. The acid will help lift and break down the oil particles, while the salt will aid in pushing the vinegar into the surface better.

Once satisfied, give your pan a rinse under hot water and dry thoroughly.

Degreasing Spray

If you’ve tried everything and nothing is cutting those pesky stains, you may need to turn to a Degreaser. This by far will give you the best results with minimal effort, but isn’t necessarily ideal for surfaces that you place food on directly, like a Pan, as degreaser is chemical-heavy. These chemicals are not safe to consume, so please proceed with caution and use only on backsplashes and other surfaces that your food isn’t coming into direct contact with.

When you think of degreasing spray, you may think of WD-40® or Easy-Off, both of which are great for cleaning the interiors of your ovens and microwaves. They work by using a hydrophobic chain which has one hydrophilic end, which attracts water, and a hydrophobic end which attracts the oil and grease. Similar to vinegar, the chemical compound will help release the oil molecules from the surface you’re trying to clean and hold it in the degreaser.

To use this, we recommend consulting the instructions on whichever spray you choose, but typically you just need to mildly saturate the affected area with degreaser and let it sit for 3-5 minutes. After that 3-5 minutes, be sure to rinse well with hot water and mild dish soap, then dry well.

Now that you know how to clean oil splatter in your kitchen, you can cook confidently knowing that the possibility of a mess can’t hold you back from creating something great.