A Step-by-Step Guide to Cleaning Commercial Kitchen Drains

By Brian on July 9, 2024

Commercial kitchen drain cleaning is vital for every restaurant owner and business alike. Clean drains are crucial for smooth operations and safety. Without regular maintenance, clogs can lead to slow drains, bad odors, and even complete blockages. All these issues can disrupt your workflow and cause unnecessary downtime.

Here’s a quick checklist for proper commercial kitchen drain maintenance:

  • Remove blockages regularly using tools like plungers and plumbing snakes.
  • Install and maintain grease traps to prevent grease buildup.
  • Use sink strainers to catch food particles before they enter the plumbing.
  • Run hot water and apply natural cleaners like baking soda and vinegar to reduce minor clogs.
  • Schedule routine drain cleaning appointments with professional services.

Ignoring these steps can lead to expensive repairs and health hazards, including unsafe working conditions and potential contamination.

Steps to Maintain Commercial Kitchen Drains - commercial kitchen drain cleaning infographic brainstorm-4-items

Tools and Materials Needed

Cleaning commercial kitchen drains requires the right tools and materials. Here’s a quick rundown of what you’ll need:


A plunger is your first line of defense against clogs. It creates suction to dislodge blockages in your drains. Make sure to use a heavy-duty plunger designed for commercial use for better results.

Plumbing Snake

A plumbing snake (also known as a drain auger) is a flexible tool that can reach deep into your pipes to break up stubborn clogs. It’s especially useful for removing blockages that a plunger can’t handle.

Hot Water

Hot water is a simple but effective way to dissolve grease and clear minor clogs. Pouring boiling water down the drain can help loosen up any grease buildup and keep your pipes flowing smoothly.

Baking Soda and Vinegar

A natural cleaning solution, baking soda and vinegar, can be used to break down grease and other organic matter in your drains. Pour ½ cup of baking soda followed by ¼ cup of vinegar down the drain, let it sit for 15 minutes, then flush with hot water.

Commercial Sink Strainer

A commercial sink strainer is essential for preventing food solids from entering your plumbing system. These strainers are easy to install and can save you from frequent clogs. Look for a twist-handle waste valve, which acts as both a strainer and a stopper.

Grease Trap

A grease trap is crucial for commercial kitchens. It captures grease before it can enter the plumbing system, reducing the risk of clogs. Regular maintenance is key—scoop out the accumulated grease and scrub the trap thoroughly to keep it functioning well.

Absorbent Cleaning Materials

Using absorbent cleaning materials like cloths or paper towels to wipe down dishes before washing can prevent grease from going down the drain. This simple step can significantly reduce grease buildup in your pipes.

With these tools and materials on hand, you’ll be well-equipped to tackle any drain issues in your commercial kitchen. Next, let’s dive into the step-by-step guide to cleaning your drains effectively.

Step-by-Step Guide to Cleaning Commercial Kitchen Drains

Step 1: Remove Blockages with a Plunger

Start by using a plunger to remove any initial blockages. Place the plunger over the drain and push down firmly, then pull up quickly. Repeat this a few times to dislodge any debris that might be causing the blockage. This is often enough to clear minor clogs and get your drain flowing again.

Step 2: Use a Plumbing Snake

If the plunger doesn’t do the trick, it’s time to use a plumbing snake. This flexible tool can reach deeper into the drain to break up clogs. Insert the snake into the drain and push it forward until you feel resistance. Rotate the handle to break up the clog, then pull the snake out slowly, bringing the debris with it.

Step 3: Run Hot Water

Once you’ve removed the blockage, run hot water down the drain. The hot water will help dissolve any remaining grease and clear minor clogs. It’s a simple yet effective way to keep your drains clean.

Step 4: Apply Baking Soda and Vinegar

For a natural cleaning solution, pour a mixture of baking soda and vinegar down the drain. Start with ½ cup of baking soda, followed by ¼ cup of vinegar. This combination will create a foaming action that helps break down grease and other residues. Let it sit for about 15 minutes, then flush the drain with hot water.

Step 5: Install and Maintain a Commercial Sink Strainer

To prevent food solids from entering your drains, install a commercial sink strainer. This device captures food particles while allowing water to flow freely, preventing clogs. It’s easy to install and can save you a lot of trouble in the long run. Make sure to clean the strainer regularly to keep it effective.

By following these steps, you can ensure your commercial kitchen drains remain clean and functional. Next, let’s explore some preventative measures to keep your drains in top shape.

Preventative Measures for Commercial Kitchen Drain Cleaning

Never Pour Fat, Oil, or Grease Down the Drain

Fat, oil, and grease (FOG) are major culprits in clogging commercial kitchen drains. When hot, these substances are liquid, but they solidify as they cool, creating blockages. Always dispose of FOG properly by letting it cool, transferring it to a container, and then throwing it in the trash.

Use Absorbent Cleaning Materials

After cooking, dishes often have residual grease. Wiping dishes with absorbent cloths or paper towels before washing them can prevent grease from entering the drain. This simple step can significantly reduce the risk of clogs.

Regularly Clean Grease Traps

Grease traps are essential for capturing FOG before it reaches your pipes. Regular maintenance is crucial to prevent odors and ensure effectiveness. Clean the grease trap by removing the lid, scooping out the accumulated grease, and scrubbing the trap with hot water and soap. Regular cleaning can prevent costly repairs.

Use Drain Covers

Install drain covers to catch large debris that could block your drains. These covers are a simple yet effective solution to prevent food scraps and other solids from causing clogs. Clean the covers regularly to maintain their effectiveness.

Schedule Routine Drain Cleaning

Routine maintenance is key to keeping your drains in top shape. Schedule professional drain cleaning services at least twice a year to prevent clogs and maintain efficiency. Professionals can use specialized tools and techniques to ensure your drains are thoroughly cleaned and free of blockages.

By implementing these preventative measures, you can keep your commercial kitchen drains clean and functional. Next, we’ll discuss common issues and solutions for commercial kitchen drains.

Common Issues and Solutions

What Causes Drains to Smell Like Sewage?

A common culprit behind foul-smelling drains is hydrogen sulfide gas, which smells like rotten eggs. This gas is produced by bacteria breaking down organic matter in the pipes.

Another reason for the stench could be dried-out P-traps. A P-trap is a U-shaped pipe under the sink that holds water, which creates a barrier preventing sewer gases from escaping into the kitchen. If the P-trap dries out, it allows those gases to seep back up the drain.

To fix this, simply run hot water down the drain to refill the P-trap and eliminate the smell.

P-trap diagram - commercial kitchen drain cleaning

How to Handle Slow Drains

Slow drains are often a sign of a forming clog. The first step is to run hot water down the drain. Hot water can dissolve grease and clear minor clogs.

If that doesn’t work, try a natural cleaning solution. Pour baking soda down the drain, followed by vinegar. This combination creates a fizzy reaction that can break down organic matter causing the blockage.

For stubborn clogs, you might need professional help. Experts have the tools and know-how to tackle more severe issues without damaging your pipes.

Why Avoid Chemical Drain Cleaners?

While chemical drain cleaners might seem like a quick fix, they can cause more harm than good. These cleaners often contain harsh chemicals that can damage your pipes over time. The chemicals can corrode the pipes, leading to costly repairs or replacements.

Moreover, mixing different drain cleaners can produce hazardous gases. For example, combining a cleaner with bleach and one with acid can release chlorine gas, which is toxic.

Instead, stick to safer alternatives like hot water, baking soda, and vinegar. For persistent issues, it’s best to call in professionals who can handle the problem safely and effectively.

Next, we’ll address some frequently asked questions about commercial kitchen drain cleaning.

Frequently Asked Questions about Commercial Kitchen Drain Cleaning

How Often Should Commercial Drains Be Cleaned?

Commercial kitchen drains should be cleaned twice a year. This helps prevent clogs and keeps everything running smoothly. Regular cleaning also minimizes the risk of unexpected blockages that can disrupt your kitchen operations.

Tip: High-volume kitchens might need more frequent cleaning. Always consider your kitchen’s specific needs when setting a maintenance schedule.

What Are the Best Methods for Cleaning Drains?

To keep your commercial kitchen drains in top shape, use these methods:

  1. Plunger: Start with a plunger to remove initial blockages.
  2. Plumbing Snake: Use a plumbing snake to break up stubborn clogs.
  3. Hot Water: Run hot water down the drain to dissolve grease and clear minor blockages.
  4. Baking Soda and Vinegar: This natural cleaning solution can break down grime and grease without damaging pipes.

These methods are effective and safe, making them ideal for regular maintenance.

How to Prevent Drain Clogs in a Restaurant?

Preventing clogs is easier than dealing with them. Here are some tips:

  1. Proper Disposal: Never pour fat, oil, or grease (FOG) down the drain. These substances solidify and cause clogs. Instead, dispose of them in a separate container and throw them in the trash.
  2. Grease Traps: Regularly clean and maintain your grease traps. This keeps grease from entering your drain system.
  3. Routine Cleaning: Schedule routine drain cleaning to keep your drains clear and functional. This can include professional services for thorough cleaning.

Tip: Using a commercial sink strainer can also help by catching food solids before they enter the drain.

By following these steps, you can keep your restaurant’s drains in good working order and avoid costly plumbing issues.


Regular maintenance is crucial for keeping your commercial kitchen drains clear and functional. This not only prevents costly disruptions but also ensures a safe and sanitary environment for both employees and customers.

At Go Pro Plumbing, we understand the unique challenges that commercial kitchens face. Our professional services are designed to tackle even the toughest clogs, using advanced tools and techniques. With over 25 years of experience, our Ventura County technicians are skilled in providing efficient and effective solutions.

Customer satisfaction is our top priority. We offer same-day service to address urgent plumbing needs, minimizing downtime and keeping your kitchen running smoothly.

Don’t wait for a minor issue to become a major problem. Schedule routine drain cleaning with us to ensure your drains remain in top condition. Visit our commercial drain cleaning page to learn more and book an appointment today.

Regular maintenance is not just a good practice—it’s a necessity for the smooth operation of any commercial kitchen. Trust Go Pro Plumbing to keep your drains clean and your business running efficiently.

Category: Commercial Services