A Comprehensive Guide on Restaurant Grease Trap Cleaning

cookingFats, oils, and grease wastes are very common in commercial restaurant establishments. Even though they are common, disposing of them can be a little bit problematic.

Once they cool off, they transform into a viscous, semi-solid state which can present a huge problem. It can befoul your plumbing system, often leading to drain blockage. As a restaurant or other food establishment owner/manager, you can avoid this menace by installing a Grease Trap.

As the name suggests, the basic function of a grease trap is to trap excess fats and oils. Preventing them from being flushed into the main drainage system. Grease traps come in a variety of sizes- from small restaurant to large food establishment models. They are invaluable additions to any commercial restaurant kitchen.

Where are Grease Traps Located?

Commercial grease traps are normally located outside the restaurant’s building, right in the ground near the walls by your kitchen’s dishwashing area. The trap looks similar to a manhole or a septic tank cover.

If it’s not located outside your restaurant building, it could be located in the restaurant’s basement, right below the kitchen. They are commonly installed in the basement to protect them from frost and close to the kitchen’s dishwashing station.

Grease Trap Cleaning Tools

When cleaning out a grease trap, it’s important to use the right tools to ensure that the job is done right. Here are some of the basic tools needed for trap cleaning.

  • Rubber Gloves- Grease is messy and nasty, so be sure to wear rubber gloves
  • Gas mask- We all know how kitchen waste is smelly, and grease makes it even worse. Since you will be dealing with decomposing grease, you will want to wear a gas mask to avoid inhaling the stinky odors.
  • Coveralls- Want to clean the trap wearing your best shirt or trouser? Bad idea. You will definitely throw them away after cleaning. So be sure to wear protective clothing like coveralls to protect your clothes
  • Crowbar, scraper, and wrench- Use the crowbar to remove the grease trap lid. Depending on the design of the grease trap, you may need to use a wrench instead of a crowbar. Use the scraper to clean the tank and baffles.
  • Bucket and Scoop- Use the bucket and scoop to remove sludge and liquids from the trap.
  • Shop Vacuum- Use a shop vacuum to pump grease waste and liquids from the trap.

Grease Trap Parts

A commercial grease trap consists of several parts. One of these parts is the lid which is often removed with a crowbar/wrench during cleaning. There are some grease trap lids that are attached with bolts.

sewer-waterThere are also molded plastic traps that are usually snapped off during cleaning.

A grease trap also consists of baffles whose main function is to separate the flow of wastewater in the grease trap tank. Because fats, oils, and grease are lighter than water, they rise to the top of the trap tank. Ultimately, allowing cleaner sewage water to pass via the trap before entering the sewer system.

The Procedure for Cleaning a Grease Trap

As a restaurant owner/manager, it’s important to clean the trap on a regular basis. Cleaning grease traps prevent solidified fats, oils, and grease from sticking to the insides of the drainage pipes, which as a result traps food particles and other debris.

Over time, the trapped solid residue obstructs the flow of wastewater and causes sewage to back up. Additionally, grease can also enter the public waste system or septic system attached to your restaurant, which can lead to environmental pollution.

To avoid all these problems, the grease trap must be cleaned and maintained on a regular basis for it to work effectively. In fact, a trap must be cleaned every 4-6 weeks.

When done in the right way, cleaning a grease trap will ensure proper hygiene in your restaurant. It will also save you tons of money on fixing clogged drains.

That being said, here is the best way to clean a grease trap.

Commercial Grease Trap Cleaning Procedure


grease trap cleaner1. First things first, you need to wait for the water inside the tank to cool down. Especially a few minutes after wastewater has been emptied from the automatic dishwasher or 3-compartment sink. Doing this will allow the grease to float on top, which will make it much easier to scoop.

2. Next, gently detach the lid from the grease trap with a crowbar or wrench. Be very careful when detaching the lid. There are some gaskets located right under the cover and might get damaged, which will cost you money to replace.

3. Often, grease sludge settles at the top of the tank. This makes it easy to collect it from the top. Measure the thickness of the grease sludge, then scoop the bucket into the trap and bring out the solidified grease waste.

Transfer the waste into a heavy-duty plastic trash bag or any water-tight container.

4. Next, use a scraper to scrape off grease waste from the lid, the sides of the trap, and the baffles. Remove any large solidified pieces of fats and oils that are stuck to the trap. For a more thorough cleaning job, use a Shop Vacuum to suck the remaining bits of grease.

5. With most of the grease removed, it’s time to give the trap a shine. Use soap, warm water, and a steel pot scrubber to clean the lids, sides, baffles, and other parts of the trap. Doing this will also eliminate bad odor from the trap. Flush the trap with clean water to remove soap and debris.

6. To test whether the grease has been completely eliminated from the trap, drain a gallon of clean water from the kitchen sink. If the water fails to flow through, there must be a blockage in the drainage pipes. You might want to consider calling a professional plumber to fix it.

7. Finally, reinstall the grease trap parts and dispose of the grease waste

Grease Trap Maintenance


To ensure that your commercial grease trap functions at an optimum level, it’s important to ensure proper maintenance. With proper maintenance, the trap can offer you years of convenient operation. Don’t wait until things get out of hand- like grease leakage in the local water system.

Is it time for a replacement? Well, you should consider replacing your trap if it stops filtering grease out of wastewater, constantly backs up, becomes extremely hard to clean or emanates bad odors in your kitchen.

Maintenance should be conducted a minimum of every 3 months or more frequently if excess waste has accumulated or the above-mentioned issues have occurred. If unable to do the job, you can hire professional and reliable commercial plumbing services to ensure that your grease trap is in great condition all year long.

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