Cutting the Fat: Restaurant Grease Removal

By Amy Milshtein

Cutting the Fat: Restaurant Grease Removal

We called it The Bucket of Death. It sounds like hyperbole but hear me out. The Bucket of Death was a foul-smelling, rusty, old container, tucked away behind the dumpster. It held the daily grease and muck scraped from the café grill where I worked during college. Every night at closing someone—usually the newest hire—would haul the day’s waste to The Bucket and pour it in.

Things may have changed in the thirty years since I’ve last visited The Bucket of Death, but one truth remains: restaurant grease removal is serious business. Improper disposal of grease, like pouring it down the drain, can get a business owner in trouble. Most cities and water districts have a grease management program to keep fats, oils and grease (FOG) out of the sewers to avoid backups and costly cleanups.

Conversely, smartly managed grease can be an asset. Used cooking oils have become a valuable commodity to rendering companies. They pay to haul the oil away and turn it into energy-efficient biodiesel and other products, according to Restaurant Business. Who knows what that Bucket of Death would be worth today?

But from a maintenance standpoint, oil, fat and grease remain a headache to clean. Grease particles, suspended in the air over the fryers and grill, accumulate over time, forming a grimy film on walls, equipment and most importantly, floors. A greasy floor presents a slip and fall risk to both employees and customers. Traditional mopping and scrubbing won’t fully remove grease and might make the problem worse by spreading it around to other surfaces.

The Big Guns

Restaurant grease removal calls for a specialized product--a degreaser. Degreasers work by breaking up and surrounding individual grease molecules. Exercise caution when using these chemicals and read manufacture instructions closely. Be sure to wear eye protection and gloves when using a chemical degreaser. Take care to dispose of leftover degreaser carefully. Some products require complicated disposal; others, when diluted correctly, can be poured down the drain.

Slip Sliding Away

Degreasers work most effectively when given the proper dwell time. Dilute according to manufacturer instruction and spray on the surface. Allow degreaser to sit for at least ten minutes, or as directed by the manufacturer to fully loosen the greasy soil.

Once loosened, the grease can still be hard to remove. Traditional mops and buckets will spread and redeposit some of the freed grease and the same can happen with squeegee systems. Consider using a dispense and vac system designed for heavy restaurant grease removal.

Click here to learn more about products that help remove grease and other messes.

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Amy Milshtein

Amy Milshtein

Amy Milshtein covers design, facility management and business topics for a variety of trade publications and consumer magazines. 

Her work has won several awards, most recently a regional silver Azbee Award of Excellence.

She lives in Portland, OR with her family and Clyde, a 15-lb tabby cat. Once an avid hiker, these days she finds herself on the less-challenging -but-still-exciting 'creaky knees' trails.

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