So you can avoid clogging pipes and polluting water. 

By Katie Holdefehr
March 17, 2020

Oftentimes, it's not until a clog occurs that we start to carefully reconsider everything we pour in the sink. To prevent clogged pipes before they happen, consult the list of items below. Stop pouring cooking oil or coffee grounds down the drain now, and you won't have to reach for the plunger or call the plumber later. Besides preventing clogs, proper disposal of some of these items will help keep your local water supply clean. Make note of the list below, then share it with your entire household. 

RELATED: How to Unclog a Sink

1
Grease and Oil 

The next time you cook bacon, think twice before you pour the grease down the drain. First, that flavorful grease can be used to make something else. And second, when grease or oil congeals, it can cause a clog in the pipe. 

2
Coffee Grounds

Before you pour the leftover coffee from your French press down the drain, be careful to scoop out and dispose of the grounds first. Even if there aren't a ton of grounds left, if you have a habit of pouring them down the sink every morning, it can build up. The good news: coffee grounds can be composted. 

3
Rice 

If you've ever cooked rice before, then you know that it expands in water. So just imagine what happens when you pour extra rice down the drain and then turn on the water.

4
Medications

When you pour medicine down the drain, it enters and pollutes the waterway. Luckily, there are several different options for safe disposal. Check with your local pharmacy, which may have a medical waste disposal unit or pre-addressed envelopes that let you mail in the medications for incineration. Also, twice a year, in April and October, the federal Drug Enforcement Agency holds National Drug Take-Back Day

5
"Flushable" Wipes

There are now many wet wipes on the market that claim to be "flushable," but that doesn't always mean that they will disintegrate easily, and they can be particularly difficult on older plumbing systems. To be safe, throw these away with your regular trash. 

6
Cleaning Products

To avoid water pollution, never (ever!) pour harsh chemicals, like bleach or ammonia, down the drain. Call your local Hazardous Household Waste collection center for their drop-off hours or to see if they're planning a collection day. 

7
Paint 

Depending upon how much leftover paint you have, there are a few options for safe disposal—but pouring it down the drain is not one of them! If it's a small amount, simply open up the lid and allow the paint to dry out before throwing it away (note: don't do this indoors, to avoid fumes). But if you have half a can left, try mixing it with kitty litter and allowing it to dry, turning it into a solid before disposing of it. If you have many gallons of paint, contact your local Hazardous Household Waste collection center. 

8
Chemicals

For obvious reasons, pesticides and other chemicals should not be put down the drain. Again, your local Hazardous Household Waste collection center can guide you on proper disposal. 

9
Flour (and Dough)

When baking, always scrape excess flour or dough into the trash can before you wash the bowls, measuring cups, or egg beaters at the sink. Otherwise, you'll risk clogging the drain with a messy goop of water and dough. 

10
Eggshells

Even if you have a garbage disposal, eggshells should never be put down the sink because the membrane of the shell is known to cause clogs. Instead, throw them in the trash or consider composting them. 

Advertisement