Grease Trap Cleaning: How to Use and Clean a Grease Trap


A grease trap is designed to do exactly what the name implies, which is to trap grease, fatty oils, and sludge. It is a plumbing device that works to intercept grease and solids before they are able to enter a wastewater disposal system. A grease trap is an essential component of a commercial kitchen, whether in a restaurant, hotel, fast food shop, pub, school, or bakery.

If you work in an area that uses a grease trap, then it’s important to understand how it works and how it is cleaned. Here, we will highlight everything you need to know, including taking a step-by-step look at effective grease trap cleaning. Let’s get started!

How Does a Great Trap Work?

As we have noted above, a grease trap is a device that is designed to trap grease and prevent it from passing into a sewer line/system. There are a number of different types of grease traps, including:

  • Automatic grease traps
  • Passive hydromechanical (also known as manual grease traps)
  • Gravity grease traps

Establishments such as restaurants produce a large amount of grease and oils, which can accumulate in sewer pipes and cause a host of problems. These include blocked drainpipes and sewers, foul odors, and a restricted flowing rate of wastewater. To prevent this, large establishments use grease traps.

Substances such as grease and oil pass through a grease trap’s catching system, giving these substances time to cool and solidify. Meanwhile, water is able to pass through the drain as normal. In order for a grease trap to continue working effectively, it is important that it is regularly cleaned.

How to Clean a Grease Trap

Properly cleaning a grease trap is a multi-step process, which we will highlight below. For a professional cleaning of grease traps, your premier choice in the metro Detroit area of Michigan is WaterWork Plumbing.

Step 1: Remove the Lid

The first step when cleaning a grease trap is to detach the lid gently using a pry bar. It is important that you go through this step slowly. The reason is that there are gaskets for the grease trap just under the top cover which, if damaged, will need to be replaced.

Step 2: Inspect the Parts

Once the lid has been removed, the next step is to inspect the grease trap’s different parts. Given that you will remove and replace the different parts during the cleaning process, it’s necessary to know where these components are located and how they can be re-installed once cleaned. It can help to take photos or draw a diagram during the process so that you can piece everything back together during the final re-installation phase.

Step 3: Insert a Measuring Stick

Next, insert either a measuring stick or a wooden dowel into the grease trap. Guide the stick or dowel to the bottom of the grease trap and swirl it around so that the oils and grease mark it.

Then, remove the stick or dowel and use a tape measure to determine how many inches of waste are present. It is important that you record these results in a FOG (fatty oils and grease) pump out report.

Step 4: Remove Any Standing Water

Using a bucket, remove any standing water that is present on the top of the grease trap. We recommend that you use a facemask when cleaning a grease trap.

Step 5: Remove the Waste

Next is the fun part. Using a small bucket, start removing the waste from the grease trap. Simply scoop the bucket into the grease trap and use it to bring out the solidified grease and oil. When you have removed the waste, place it in a water-tight container (you can use a plastic trash bag, for example).

Step 6: Scrape Down the Grease Trap

Once the majority of the waste has been removed using the bucket, the next step is to scrape down the sides and the lid of the trap. There may be larger, stubborn pieces of waste attached to the trap. Another useful method when cleaning out a grease trap is to use a wet/dry vacuum, which works to suck out small bits of waste.

Step 7: Start Scrubbing

Next, start cleaning the sides, lids, and different components using room-temperature water and soap. A steel pot scrubber is a useful tool to remove odor and excess waste from the grease trap. Then, flush the components and screens using water to remove any other debris and soap.

Step 8: Re-Install the Grease Trap

Following your photographs or diagram, start to re-install the grease trap’s different parts. Once all the parts have been secured and are working, replace the lid.

Step 9: Copy Your FOG Report

The FOG report is issued by the Environmental Protection Agency. It is necessary to send this report to the address listed on the report. It is also advisable that you copy this report for your own business’s records.

What You Need to Know About Grease Trap Cleaning

The above information highlights the basics of what a grease trap is, how it works, and how it is cleaned. Grease trap cleaning is an important process and should form a regular part of an establishment’s maintenance routine. Grease traps must be functional and clutter-free.

If you are looking for professional grease trap cleaning in Detroit, MI, don’t hesitate to call us at WaterWork Plumbing. We are here to fix all of your plumbing needs. Click here to request an appointment with us today.