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9 Things You Should Never Put Down Your Drains

By Jarrod Heil

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Just because your kitchen sink comes equipped with a garbage disposal doesn’t mean you should take advantage of it.

Sure, small things may fall into the sink, and you may think this or that is fine down there, because you can turn on a switch and the lumps of rice, globs of bacon fat or excess olive oil magically disappears.

But what effect do those things actually have on your garbage disposal and drains in your home? Well, they have a pretty negative effect, just check out these nine things you definitely should not put down your drains.

1. Coffee Grounds

If you’re like most people in the world, morning coffee is in your daily routine. Sometimes after making that coffee, you can’t get all the used grounds into your compost jar, the trash can or wherever you decide to put those small pieces of human excellence.

So down the drain they go. You turn on the garbage disposal and never think twice about them. But pouring coffee grounds down the sink is a terrible idea because they’re the most likely source to clog your drains.

If you’re thinking to yourself “can you put coffee grounds down the sink?” keep thinking because you definitely shouldn’t!

2. Grease, Fats & Cooking Oils

Just because bacon is good for the soul and olive oil is good for the heart doesn’t mean either is good for your drain pipes. In fact, grease and fats are some of the worst things to put down your drain because they’re usually in a liquid state when you throw them in.

But give them about 10 minutes and they’ll solidify to create an almost impenetrable clog in your pipes, which will stop every little thing that’s not water directly in its tracks. Over time, cooking oils can have a similar effect.

If you accidentally pour any of these three delicious substances down your drains, don’t worry. A simple home remedy will clear those drains right up. Just mix vinegar and baking soda with boiling water and pour it down the drain. It should clear everything right up.

Is it bad to pour boiling water down the drain? It’s necessarily good for the pipes, but they’ll survive just fine.

3. Eggshells

Eggshells are sneaky, small pieces of destruction. OK, so they don’t have nearly as big of an impact as the previous food groups.

But have you ever had a piece of eggshell on your fingertips that you just couldn’t get rid of? And when you do, you somehow find another one on another finger?

That’s because eggshells stick to literally anything and everything. Mixed with grease, oil or anything that’s relatively sticky, eggshells can become disastrous to the regular flowing nature of your pipes.

4. Fibrous Foods

Even if you have a commercial-grade garbage disposal (which you probably don’t because what are you even putting down the drain?), it won’t be enough to properly blend fibrous foods like corn husks and asparagus.

If you make smoothies each morning with seeds, nuts, celery or frozen fruits, chances are you probably haven’t had that blender for more than five or 10 years. And those blades are often sharper than those in the garbage disposal.

If you don’t intend on replacing your garbage disposal at the rate you replace your blenders, we highly suggest you through fibrous food in the trash to keep them out of your drains.

5. Raw Meat

We’ve all been in the garbage-disposal-meat dilemma before. You’re trimming off excess chicken fat or steak gristle to get dinner exactly how you like it.

You’re thinking about throwing it in the garbage, but you just emptied it and don’t want to empty it again and waste a bag or, worse, leave it in there to rot and generate one of the most awful smells known to humans.

What do you do?

You throw it down the garbage disposal, turn that puppy on and follow that with dish soap to get rid of the smell. Vamoosh, it’s gone and you never have to worry about it again, right? Wrong!

That meat creates a fatty buildup that can clog pipes over time. We shouldn’t have to tell you this, but you also shouldn’t put any bones from meat down the drain either. Just checking to make sure you’re still with us!

6. Rice and Pasta

Carbs are comprised of a ton of starch, and since people love rice and pasta, these two culprits take the fall for all the starchy foods out there. Starch is known for taking in water and expanding beyond the limits you thought were in place.

But even after starchy foods have been cooked and you think there’s no room for expansion remaining, there’s always more room to go. And if you put rice, pasta or another starchy food down the drain, it will get stuck and then suck up a ton of water and excess fluids that go down the drain.

If you’re wondering can you put cooked rice down the garbage disposal (even just a little bit)? It’s ok if a few rice grains or pieces of pasta go down, but don’t put the entire batch down the drain. Even if you don’t like it as much as you should (or it was burned), dump it in the trash can instead of the garbage disposal.

7. Flour

Flour could be grouped into the starchy food category since it hoards water like rice and pasta, but it’s even worse for your kitchen sink and subsequent pipes.

Flour that has been introduced to water basically turns into super glue. And I don’t know about you, but the thought of pouring super glue down my kitchen drain pipes just doesn’t sit too well with me.

A little bit of excess flour accidentally making its way down the sink isn’t a cause for immediate concern, but more than a few tablespoons at a time can cause some serious problems down the line.

8. Harmful Household Fluids

There are some common misconceptions about which household fluids you can and can’t pour down the drain. While it should go without saying that harmful household fluids should never be poured down there, which fluids are considered harmful and which are not?

Maybe you’re wondering can you put drano down a garbage disposal or is it safe to pour bleach down the drain? Drano and small amounts of bleach are OK to pour down the sink because they’ve been designed to do that.

But things like household cleaners for glass and surfaces, especially if they’re toxic, and any fluid that comes out of your vehicle should never be discarded down the drain.

9. Medication

Did you know that medication you put down the sink could eventually make its way out to sea and poison marine life? Yup, it sure can. Even something as small as a headache pill may be OK for us humans to consume, but a dolphin’s internal organs don’t work the same way.

If you want to do your part to help preserve marine life, avoid throwing medication down the drain (and stop using one-use plastics like straws, grocery bags, and, well that’s for another day and time).

If your drains are extremely clogged and drano just isn’t doing the trick, we highly recommend hiring a plumbing professional.