How To Clean Up Cooking Oil Spills

Monday 11th September 2023

Ellen Warren

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Cooking oil in a wok pan

CONTENTS

When it comes to a cooking oil spill, swift action is integral. Cooking oil spills can be hazardous if left unattended, causing burns, fires, or slips and falls. Whether the spill occurs in your domestic kitchen or a commercial setting, the consequences can be devastating without intervention.

At ICE Cleaning, we offer comprehensive oil spill clean-up services, and are able to neutralise various oil substances from gasoline and diesel to hydraulic oils. Our emergency team are on-call 24/7 and utilises state-of-the-art tools and solutions to decontaminate the property.

Read on to learn about how oil spills occur, the best ways to prevent them, and proper disposal methods for used cooking oil. 

Causes of cooking oil spills

Cooking oil spills are accidents that can occur in any kitchen. Industrial or domestic spills can cause burns or fires, which can get out of control quickly without proper intervention or enforced safety guidelines. The reason why cooking oils may spill can be due to:

  • High temperatures — Oils have a smoke point, a temperature at which they start to break down and produce visible fumes. This affects the flavour and increases the risk of an oily mess.
  • Carelessness — An overfilled pan or careless handling of cooking utensils can result in unwanted spillage. You must be mindful while working with hot oils in your kitchen.
  • Improper storage — Inadequate storage practices, like leaving containers open or storing them improperly may cause leakage, significantly contributing to messy cooking oil spills.

Dangers of cooking oil spills

Spilling cooking oil can have serious consequences, especially in commercial settings where oils are used in large amounts throughout the day. If the environment is unsafe or the equipment is faulty, oil spills can occur and cause:

  • Burns and fires — When hot cooking oil touches the skin, it can cause serious burns immediately. Similarly, if oil encounters gas fires, it can ignite rapidly.
  • Slip, trip, and fall hazards — Spilt oil on kitchen surfaces can spread quickly, resulting in slippery surfaces that pose a significant risk of falls.

The importance of prompt cleaning

Oil spills require immediate cleaning, regardless of their size or location. Taking timely action reduces the potential for harm and helps maintain a safe environment.

Cooking oil spills can be challenging to handle as they can quickly spread across your hob, work surface, or floor. It can be hard to contain the spill, especially if it is hot and slippery. Additionally, any residue left behind could potentially pose a fire risk.

It is important to note that managing the situation incorrectly can lead to further complications. For example, using water to clean up an oil spill will only cause it to spread even more and potentially ignite if the oil is still hot. To avoid such incidents, you must learn how to cook safely.

If you cook with oil in a shallow pan without a lid on high heat and leave the stove unattended, a fire may ignite. It is best to use a deep pot or pan with a lid, keep the heat low, and never leave your stove unattended when oil is involved.

How to clean up a cooking oil spill at home

You must act quickly and effectively when dealing with a cooking oil spill at home. Although you should not try to clean large spills by yourself if they are hot, there are some things you can do to halt the spread:

  • Place absorbent materials over the oil like cat litter or sawdust
  • Place flour, cornflour, or baking soda around the oil to stop it from spreading
  • Let it cool once you have stopped the spread
  • Once it is cooled, mix flour or cornflour with the oil to clean it up

If the oil stains your floor, you must consider calling professional cleaners to neutralise the spill site for you. Do not try to clean it yourself using bleach, dish soap, or other commercial cleaning products.

Cleaning up cooking oil spills at work

Managing an oil spill at work is no easy task, as the oil can spread rapidly across a surface. Some restaurants also use a variety of cooking oils, including grease and fats. Soaking up all that slickness, including those that have slipped into crevices or gaps, requires professional intervention.

Attempting to clean the oil while it is still hot could lead to burns or cause oil to splatter. Instead, switch off your heat source first and let everything cool down before you take the next steps.

If your clothes are stained with cooking oil during this process, do not throw them in the washing machine as it could leave oily residues which are tough to remove. A local dry cleaning or laundry service could remove these stains for you.

Some industrial and commercial kitchens may have a spill kit on-site specifically made to absorb and clean cooking oils in an emergency. If you are qualified to use this, you should do so immediately during a spill.

If you leave the oil for too long, it may permanently damage the surface it is on, making it too dangerous to continue working in that area. Slipping on oil in a kitchen can lead to serious injuries and damage.

Avoiding future spills means keeping a tidy workspace and using suitable tools when handling oils — non-slip mats under frying pans or pots can prevent any incidents in the future.

Disposal of used cooking oil

Used cooking oil is common in kitchens. It is essential, however, to dispose of it responsibly. The proper disposal begins with selecting an appropriate container. This could be a sealed plastic bag or a sturdy, leak-proof container that can handle used cooking oil without causing any mess.

A well-sealed container not only prevents leaks but also keeps pests at bay. Therefore, you must have the appropriate materials when dealing with used cooking oil.

In cases of large oil spills, seeking professional help is your best option. Specialist cleaning services exist that can safely manage and dispose of large volumes of spent oils.

Fire safety tips for cooking with oil

When cooking with any oil, you should never leave the stove unattended. An oil fire can ignite and spread quickly within a few minutes, destroying your home or workplace.

In case of an emergency, always have a fire extinguisher in your industrial kitchen. Do not throw water on hot oil or a grease fire, as this can cause an explosive force and injure you severely. During a fire, you must contact emergency services and evacuate the area.

Proper storage of cooking oils

Cooking oils can absorb the flavour and aroma of their surroundings. You must keep oils in a cool, dry area away from sunlight or any heat sources that could lead to spoilage.

For example, storing oils near a cooker can lead to premature spoilage, causing the oil to go bad. Cooking oils should be tightly sealed when not in use. Airborne particles and moisture can easily find their way into your oil and compromise its taste and nutritional value.

Dark-coloured glass bottles are recommended as they are effective at blocking out light, thus keeping the flavours fresh and the nutrients intact for a longer period.

Get in touch

If you have experienced a major cooking oil spill incident, ICE Cleaning can step in. We offer oil spill cleaning services to handle large and small spills effectively and efficiently. We can be on-site within hours of your first call and assist you in restoring your home or business to a safe and habitable state.

You can reach out to our team at 0208 066 0360 or enquiries@icecleaning.co.uk, where we will guide you through the necessary steps to secure your property and provide a free, no-obligation quote. We operate nationwide and can answer your call at any time, 365 days a year.

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