Sinking Feeling: What can (and Can’t) Go Down the Drain?

The pipes in your house are like veins in your body—it’s critical that they don’t become blocked. The best way to prevent nasty clogs? Recognize the items that do not belong down the drain, and dispose of that waste somewhere else.

Common Culprits

  • Fats, oils, and grease: Fatty foods such as butter and grease congeal and block pipes.  They’re bad for sewage systems too. Putting fats, oils, and grease down the drain can even result in sewage backing up into you or your neighbor’s homes. Scrape as much of these foods as you can off of dishes and into the trash.
  • Coffee grounds: Coffee grounds don’t fully dissolve in water, and they can mix with oil or grease to form nasty clogs. You’re better off throwing grounds into the trash, or even better, composting them.
  • Eggshells: A popular urban myth suggests that eggshells sharpen disposal blades—they don’t. Eggshell membrane can wrap around and jam the shredder ring, and the ground up shells can stick to pipes and clog. Send eggshells to the trash instead.
  • Retentive foods: Pasta, rice, potatoes and beans absorb water and turn into a mushy paste, clogging the trap. Your pipes will thank you if you put these foods in the trash.
  • Garbage: Produce stickers are a prime problem for drain disposal. Garbage usually doesn’t dissolve in water, so it contributes to pipe blockages. Small pieces of garbage, such as stickers, can also cause problems when they hit water treatment plants.
  • Paint: Paint, turpentine, nail polish, and other chemicals should never go down any drain. They’ll do serious damage to your plumbing system. Dispose of these chemicals at a local hazardous-waste facility.
  • Pharmaceuticals: These won’t plug your drain, but they still shouldn’t be disposed of this way, because it’s irresponsible to introduce over-the-counter or prescriptions drugs to the local water supply. Find a local medication disposal program to properly get rid of any old medicines you have lying around.

Other Non-Flushables

  • Feminine hygiene products
  • Paper towels
  • Motor oil
  • Antifreeze
  • Flammable materials
  • Corrosive substances

These materials should not go into any of your drains, but for your kitchen sink specifically, remember: if it’s not food, it doesn’t drain. And don’t forget the food-specific guidelines we’ve already outlined. Being mindful of what you put into your plumbing system can go a long way in maintaining its health—and yours, too.  

If it’s too late and you already have a clogged drain, contact Fletcher’s Plumbing and Contracting, your local plumbing professional. We offer 24-hour emergency service.