The average sink gets a wide variety of materials poured down it on a daily basis. While the boiling water from cooking pasta and the leftover sauce scrapped off your plates run through the garbage disposal just fine, there are many things that do not. It may seem fine to put anything down the drain, because once it’s out of sight, it’s taken care of, right? Actually, there are many common substances that should not be poured down the drain, and several might surprise you! Below, Advanced Water Solutions will list some of the things that you should avoid putting down the drain to keep your garbage disposal running and your pipes flowing freely.
If you’ve had a garbage disposal for long enough, you’ve probably accidentally started it up with a piece of silverware or other hard item in it before. If you start to notice a low humming or a very loud grinding sound in your disposal, you may have put something hard down your drain that you shouldn’t have. The disposal is like your teeth: while it can grind up quite a bit, it does have its limits. Your bathroom sink and toilet are also not places to treat like a trash can, otherwise you will notice a slower flow and even blockages.
Fats, Oils, and Grease
Any greasy and oily foods will harm your disposal and your drain over time. Grease will solidify and clog your drain as it builds up, and simply running hot water through the pipes won’t remove the problem. Be especially careful with disposing of the fat and grease that comes off of the meat that you cook. There are two better ways to get rid of substances like this:
Toss It - Use an old metal can or glass jar to pour your used oil or grease into while it’s still warm. Once it has cooled, put the jar in a plastic bag and throw it in the trash. If you have a bit of extra freezer space, you can freeze the grease and other fatty meat waste until trash day to avoid bad smells from building up in your trashcan. Another method is to wait until the grease has cooled and wipe it out of the pan directly with a paper towel before you wash it, then throw the paper towel away.
Reuse It - You can reuse certain types of grease (notably bacon grease) if you sift out all solid particles and pour it into a jar. Store it in the jar until you’re ready to use it in your cooking. If you will use it right away, it can be stored at room temperature, but if you won’t use it for several days, you should refrigerate it in a sealed container. You can also reuse cooking oil, as long as it’s clear.
Foods Your Disposal Cannot Handle
There are several common foods that are just not good for putting down the drain into your disposal. Unfortunately, many of these are tossed down there on a daily basis. They include:
- Coffee Grounds - These can easily get stuck in your disposal trap.
- Fruit Pits and Seeds - Seeds are hard and can damage your disposal as well as get stuck in the pipes.
- Egg Shells - These are hard to grind up, and the membrane inside the shell can stick to the side of the pipes.
- Pasta - Pasta expands when placed in water and will continue to do so if it sits in your pipes and disposal.
- Rice - As with pasta, rice can continue to expand in water and clog the pipes over time.
- Lemon and Orange Rinds - Disposing of these rinds will clog drains. Consider recycling them as cleaning solvents mixed with vinegar and as deodorizers.
- Flour - This substance will harden and clog your drains over time. Dump used flour into your trashcan and dispose of it with your regular trash.
Non-Food Items that Should Never Go Down the Drain
Now we’ll take a look at many of the non-food items that shouldn’t go down your drain and explain why. (If you have small children, this can be a lesson that the family learns the hard way.)
- Stickers - This includes the little stickers that are often stuck on your fruits and vegetables. When you wash your produce, make sure that you peel these stickers off and put them into the trash. If they go down the drain, they can collect on the side walls of the pipes and cause clogs.
- Animal Feces - Not only can animal poop cause clogs, it can also cause harmful bacterial growth in your pipes. Even the flushable cat liter should not be put down the drain. If you’re unsure of proper disposal, check with your veterinarian for the best way to dispose of animal feces.
- Sanitary Towels - These will expand with moisture and clog your drain. Set up a disposal basket in your bathroom just like you see in public restrooms to make sure you dispose of these items properly.
- All Paper and Cloth - This includes paper towels, wipes, and cotton. All of these items expand and are too large to flush through your pipes properly. Even the so-called “flushable” wipes should NOT be put down any drain in your home, even the toilet. They don’t break down as fast as toilet paper and end up clogging pipes and even damage the larger sewage drains down the line.
- Cleaning Solutions - The contents of these solutions are harmful to the water’s ecosystem. While they may not be harmful to your pipes, they are harmful to the environment once they leave the premises. Think about switching to an all-natural cleaner if you use the drain to dispose of cleaning solutions.
- Paint - You should never dispose of paint down your drain for the same reason as cleaning solutions. They have harmful contaminants that are not safe for any ecosystem.
These are just some examples of what you shouldn’t pour down the drain, especially into a garbage disposal. If you’re uncertain of the safety of flushing down something not on this list, you can find more information with a quick Google search on the specific substance.
Now that we’ve gone over what you don’t want to put down your drain, have you thought of what’s coming out of your tap? A good water filter helps ensure that the water flowing through your home is as clean and great-tasting as possible! If you want more information on clean water, check out Advanced Water Solutions’ other blogs, such as this one that goes over the pros and cons of whole house filters vs pitcher filters.