10 Things You Should Never Put Down the Drain (Plus 5 Things You Can)

Some homeowners look at their drain as a second trash can. In fact, many homeowners routinely wash things down the drain, leading to a plumbing disaster. From bacon grease to coffee grounds, check out this list of 10 everyday household items you never want to put down the drain. 

1. Paper Towels

Okay, we all know that paper towels are biodegradable. After all, if we flush toilet paper down the drain, can’t we flush paper towels, too? No. 

Paper towels are much thicker than toilet paper. And even though they’re biodegradable, they can quickly clog up your drains and pipes. 

2. Old Medications 

While flushing may seem like a great way to get rid of medications you no longer want, flushing pills is an easy way to contaminate our natural water resources. So even if it’s something as benign as ibuprofen, give your medicine to a medication take-back program instead. 

3. Coffee Grounds 

Many homeowners have misconceptions about coffee grounds. 

Decades ago, most plumbers believed that putting coffee grounds down the drain was okay and even a good way to clean them! 

Now, thousands of clogged drains later, it’s clear that coffee grounds are one of the biggest ways to create drain blockages. What is a better way to dump your coffee? Compost your coffee grounds instead. 

4. Eggshells

Even if you have a garbage disposal, it’s important not to put eggshells down the drain. The membrane from the shell can clog up your blades, making your garbage disposal ineffective. 

5. Produce Stickers

Produce stickers are a big no-no for the drain as the stickers will cling to the pipes and get stuck on filters. 

6. Cat Litter

Even if your cat litter is marketed as “flushable,” flushing cat litter or feces down the drain can cause the spread of toxic parasites into the water supply. Additionally, the litter pieces can clog up your pipes and drains. 

7. Pasta and Rice 

Dumping pasta and rice down the drain follows the same logic as paper towels; these grains will continue to expand in your drain and can eventually lead to clogs and blockages. So don’t risk it — throw that pasta and rice in the trash.

8. Bacon Grease 

Have you ever cooked a pan of bacon but don’t know where to dump the grease? Don’t dump it in the sink! Grease can build up in your drains and lead to a clog. Instead, collect that grease in a jar and throw it away. 

9. Flour 

When mixed with water, flour often turns into a hardened glue-like substance. So don’t dump your flour down the drain. 

10. Car Fluids

If you’ve ever been tempted to dump motor oil, anti-freeze, or transmission fluid down a drain, don’t! Instead, contact your local recycling center for information on where to dispose of these hazardous chemicals. 

What’s Good for Your Drains

Not all things are bad to put down a drain and some can even help. Here are some household items that can actually be good for your drains:

  • Salt: It helps break down grease and fat. Combine it with vinegar and hot water for a power punch.
  • Cola: The phosphoric acid can help break down some of the buildups in pipes.
  • Vinegar: It’s a natural cleaning solution that can clear blockages and kill off bacteria that’s causing odors.
  • Boiling Water & Citrus: Pour the combination down a smelly sink to help with odor.
  • Baking Soda & Vinegar: This is another combination that can keep the stench at bay.

Turn to the Team at Stephens Plumbing, Heating & Air Conditioning

Got an issue with a drain or another type of plumbing problem? We’d love to come to your home or commercial building and have a look. Give Stephens Plumbing, Heating & Air Conditioning a call to schedule an appointment today.