Things You Should Never Pour Down the Drain in Your Home

Kitchen sink detail shot in a modern, renovated kitchen with black window frames, a dark faucet, white cabinets, farmhouse sink, and cozy decor

Just because you pour something down the drain doesn’t necessarily mean that it will magically disappear through the pipes. Sure, you can expect most liquids and a few tiny solids to make their way through the plumbing with little issue, but there are plenty of other items that can wreak havoc if you try to pour them down the drain.

To avoid the messy job of having to clear the pipes in your home, make sure none of the following items are ever sent down the drain. 

1. Grease

One of the most deceiving items that clog your pipes is grease. After frying up a pan of bacon or other fatty meats, all the fat at the bottom of the pan will be in liquid form, but not for long. Once it starts to cool off, it turns into solid.

Imagine pouring that hot liquid grease down the drain. At some point, it’ll start to turn to sludge as it cools, which can block the drain. The best thing you can do to dispose of this type of grease is to pour it into a separate bowl and allow it to cool, then throw it in the trash.

2. Baby Wipes

The only thing that should be flushed down a toilet is toilet paper that has been designed specifically to break apart easily when wet. Baby wipes are much thicker and are not made to break down the way toilet paper does. If the toilet gets clogged as a result, a plunger likely won’t do much. Instead, you’ll probably have to call in a plumber to clean the mess. Even if these wipes manage to actually pass the drainage system in your home, they’ll continue to do damage to the municipal sewage system.

3. Starchy Food

Any food scraps should be wiped off of plates and sent straight into the garbage can. However, it’s typical for small food particles to make it into the sink. Certain types of foods can be more damaging to pipes than others, including starchy foods such as potatoes, corn, pasta, rice, and onions skins. These fibrous foods can expand when they’re in the pipes and clog them right up. Even if you have a garbage disposal installed, these types of foods can damage the motor. While handy, garbage disposals are truly only meant for crumbs, not larger food peels or other scraps.

4. Coffee Grinds

The fine grinds of coffee may deceive homeowners into thinking that they’ll pose no problem when washed down the drain. However, coffee grounds can easily stick to any items that have already made their way into the pipes, creating a blockage. In fact, coffee grounds are one of the biggest culprits in clogged drains.

5. Dental Floss

It’s probably no surprise that the accumulation of hair can clog pipes. The same sort of principle applies with dental floss, which is similar in size and shape. Floss may be very thin, but that doesn’t mean it will necessarily slide easily through the pipes. Instead, it can easily clump into balls of knots, creating a blockage that will warrant a call to the plumber.

6. Cat Litter

Don’t be fooled by the tiny pebbles of cat litter products. Cat litter should never be flushed down the toilet or poured down sink drains. Traditional cat litter is made of clay, sand, and silica, which are made to absorb moisture. This, in turn, results in clumps that will easily clog your plumbing.

7. Medications

Tiny pills may be able to easily make it through the pipes with little issue, but they can cause trouble for our natural waterways. While it may have once been recommended to flush medications down the toilet in order to safely dispose of them and keep them out of the hands of others, it is now suggested that unconsumed medications be brought to a pharmacist for proper disposal.

8. Conventional Cleaning Solutions

Like medications, cleaning products that are found on grocery store shelves should not be poured down the drain because they can harm the water’s ecosystem. Instead, try using natural or home-made solutions that still work to clean but do not contain any agents that would cause harm to the environment.

The Bottom Line

The pipes in your home were not designed as trash cans. Many items can cause major blockage in your plumbing system that will result in the need to manually extract them, which is not a pretty job. To prevent any blockages to the pipes or harm to our natural waterways, make sure none of the above items ever make their way to your home’s plumbing system.