10 Items You Should Never Pour Down the Drain—Some Might Surprise You

Avoid flushing these common household items down the drain to prevent clogs and keep our waterways pollution-free.

Oftentimes, it's not until we have to remove a clog that we start to carefully reconsider everything we pour down the drain. If you stop flushing items like cooking oil or coffee grounds now, you won't have to reach for the plunger or call the plumber later. Besides preventing clogs, proper disposal of certain items helps keep your local water supply clean. To avoid clogged pipes altogether, note the items on this list, then share them with your entire household.

Do Not Flush These Items

01 of 10

Grease and Oil

The next time you cook bacon, think twice before you pour the grease down the drain. First, you can reuse bacon grease in other recipes. And second, when grease or oil congeals, it can cause a clog in the pipe.

02 of 10

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 indoors.

03 of 10


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. Spoiler: The pipe clogs.

04 of 10


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, the federal Drug Enforcement Agency holds National Drug Take-Back Day twice a year.

05 of 10

"Flushable" Wipes

There are now many wet wipes or makeup 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.

06 of 10

Cleaning Products

To avoid water pollution, never pour harsh cleaning products like bleach or ammonia down the drain. To clarify, pouring a large amount of bleach down the drain is different than using a highly diluted version of bleach to do laundry or clean your toilet or bathtub.

When using bleach to clean, make sure you use a ratio of a few tablespoons of bleach to a gallon of water. Also, be sure to ventilate the area.

To dispose of old cleaning products, call your local Hazardous Household Waste collection center for their drop-off hours or to see if they're planning a collection day.

07 of 10


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.

08 of 10


Depending on how much leftover paint you have and its type, 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 of latex paint, simply open up the lid and allow the paint to dry out before throwing it away (don't do this indoors to avoid fumes). 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.

On the other hand, oil-based paint is more hazardous to the environment and is usually not allowed to be thrown away through municipal garbage collection, even if you dried it out. If you have many gallons of paint (especially if it is oil-based), contact your local Hazardous Household Waste collection center.

09 of 10

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 of 10


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

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