Avoid Washing These Items Down The Drain

Indoor plumbing certainly keeps the home far cleaner, especially with the advent of the garbage disposal. However, not everything can be merely washed away and forgotten. Even seemingly harmless items like coffee grounds, vegetable peels, and milk can wreak havoc on pipes. Read on to see what items you shouldn’t be putting down the drain.

Eggshells Can Collect Other Items

cracked-egg
ds_30/Pixabay
ds_30/Pixabay

Eggshells may seem harmless to put down the drain since they easily break into small pieces. The problem is that when the eggs crack, they form jagged edges that other items can easily get stuck to.

As a result, things washed down the drain can start to collect on top of bits of eggshell, creating a blockage. Instead of washing your eggshells down the drain, just toss them in the trash or compost.

Water Makes Flour Coagulate

flour
Marco Di Lauro/Getty Images
Marco Di Lauro/Getty Images

Flour is such a thin, powdery substance that it seems like there’d be no problem pouring it down the drain. The issue is that water travels through these drains. Water causes flour to coagulate, creating a thick, solid substance that can easily clog drains.

If the coagulated flour on its own doesn’t clog the drain, it’ll at least be likely to take up space so that other items build up and create a blockage. Toss flour out instead.

Produce Stickers Can Block Water Treatment Filters

produce-sticker
Eve Edelheit/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Eve Edelheit/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Produce bought at the store has little stickers on them to display the product number and the barcode. When washing produce, it can be easy to forget about these stickers and wash them down the drain.

The problem is that the stickers don’t break down as they run down the drain. Instead, they end up sticking to the inside of pipes or getting caught in water treatment filters. Take off all the stickers before washing produce and place them in the trash.

Cleaning Products Can Get Into The Water Supply

lysol
Paul Hennessy/NurPhoto via Getty Images
Paul Hennessy/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Cleaning products are often made with harsh chemicals that can harm the ecosystems. That’s because water treatment plants don’t completely rid the water of these antibacterial agents, which can then harm the ecosystem.

Use cleaning products until they’re completely empty and then recycle the container. Use paper towels to collect any amount that may be leftover. If there’s a significant amount of cleaner that you need to dispose of, research the disposal guidelines for your city.

Medications Can Leak Into The Water Supply

medication
Rafael Henrique/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images
Rafael Henrique/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

How many films and television shows have been made that show a character flushing their medications down the drain? Too many to count. And yet, doing this or washing them down the sink isn’t a good idea.

The reason why is that medications can actually get into the water supply. A 2002 study found that personal care and pharmaceutical products were largely responsible for the chemicals found in 80% of the streams they tested! Crushing up medications and throwing them away would be a safer solution.

Paper Towels Don’t Disintegrate Like Toilet Paper Does

Anastasia Gepp/Pixabay
Anastasia Gepp/Pixabay

Imagine having to clean up a water spill with toilet paper. Sounds like a mess, doesn’t it? That’s because toilet paper is made to disintegrate the moment it becomes submerged in water.

Paper towels are made to do the exact opposite. They are especially tough and absorbent, which means that they are capable of clogging drains. Even if you run out of toilet paper and have to temporarily use paper towels instead, always dispose of them in the trash.

Coffee Grounds Are A Common Cause Of Blockages

coffee-grounds
Noora AlHammadi/Unsplash
Devin Avery/Unsplash

While hair is obviously one of the most common items that clog shower drains, when it comes to the kitchen, the more likely culprit is actually coffee grounds. That’s because the tiny particles seem harmless but can actually clump together and cause problems.

Plus, many coffee drinkers consume the beverage every day, multiple times a day. That results in tons of grounds going down the drain all the time. Instead, dump as much of the coffee grounds as possible in the trash before washing the filter or mugs.

Pasta Expands In Drains

Dina Rudick/The Boston Globe via Getty Images
Dina Rudick/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Pasta may seem like a harmless food to wash down the drain, especially when only a few pieces slip out of the strainer. However, it should be tossed in the trash whenever possible as pasta expands in water and can cause a clog.

The flour in pasta can also become sticky and cause other things to gather in the drain, creating a blockage. Other grains, such as rice, can also expand and cause similar issues.

Flushable Cat Litter Can Still Clog Drains

Auscape/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
Auscape/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Flushable cat litter sounds like a dream, which is probably why it’s marketed that way despite having the potential to clog drains. Even if your pipes are able to withstand the cat litter, it still isn’t a good idea.

That’s because the bacteria from your cat’s waste may be resistant to water treatment chemicals. As a result, certain toxins can make their way into the ocean and become hazardous to marine life. Sticking to the throwaway kitty litter is the way to go.

Grease Sticks To The Side Of Drain Pipes

bacon-grease
Tom McCorkle for The Washington Post via Getty Images; food styling by Lisa Cherkasky for The Washington Post via Getty Images
Tom McCorkle for The Washington Post via Getty Images; food styling by Lisa Cherkasky for The Washington Post via Getty Images

Grease may be thin and easy to pour when it’s hot, but it quickly thickens as it cools. When you pour grease down the drain, it can coat the pipes in a thick layer that won’t wash away.

Over time, this layer of grease can get thicker and thicker as you repeatedly pour more grease down the drain, causing a clog. Instead, pour grease into a can to let it cool and then throw it in the trash.

Paint Is Full Of Toxins

paint
Free-Photos/Pixabay
Free-Photos/Pixabay

Though paint is a liquid that can be poured down the drain, that doesn’t mean it should be. The problem with paint isn’t so much clogging issues as it is the heavy amount of chemicals and toxins that are in paint.

That’s why some cities even have requirements that paint be taken to a hazardous waste site. Paint can be so harmful to the water supply that some areas even prohibit washing brushes in the sink!

Cotton Balls Don’t Break Down Easily

cotton
Fairfax Media via Getty Images
Fairfax Media via Getty Images

Cotton balls make seem like they’re delicate enough to go down the drain, but this isn’t the case. Just because they are easy to pull apart doesn’t mean that they disintegrate well in water.

On the contrary, cotton balls are very absorbant and resist breaking down when exposed to liquid. Plus, their ball-shaped design is perfect for getting lodged in drains and causing a clog. Be careful not to mindlessly throw cotton balls in the toilet or sink.

Cooking Oil Can Cling To Sewer Pipes

cooking-oil
Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
Kukuvaja Feinkost/Unsplash

It’s no surprise that oil and water don’t mix, and that’s part of what makes oil such a hazard when poured down the drain. The oil floats on top of the water, coming into contact with pipe walls.

This isn’t just a hazard for your home’s pipes, but also for the sewer pipes! The oil sticks to the walls, creating a film that can easily catch food particles. The result is particle buildup that can lead to a clog.

Disposal Blades Aren’t Strong Enough For Fruit Pits

avocado-pit
Sebastian Kahnert/picture alliance via Getty Images
Sebastian Kahnert/picture alliance via Getty Images

Disposals are fantastic when it comes to many foods, but even they are no match for fruit pits. As a result, large pieces of fruit pits can become lodged in pipes, causing a blockage.

Even worse, fruit pits can cause the disposal blades to become dull, especially if you’re putting them down the disposal often. It can even dent or break the disposal! Be sure to throw fruit pits in the trash or compost.

Milk Can Harm Ecosystems

pouring-milk
Fairfax Media via Getty Images via Getty Images
Fairfax Media via Getty Images via Getty Images

When milk spoils, the most logical thing to do is to pour it down the drain. However, this can actually do some harm to ecosystems. The reason why is that milk, and all dairy products for that matter, has a high oxygen demand.

This means that the bacteria that form in milk use up a lot of oxygen, leaving other organisms in the water without enough to survive. If milk does go bad, try to take advantage of some spoiled milk hacks rather than dumping it.

Pouring Motor Oil Down The Drain Is Illegal In Many Areas

motor-oil
Michael Springer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Michael Springer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

If you perform your own oil changes, then you may be wondering where to dispose of motor oil. It’s absolutely imperative not to pour it down the drain as the oil is full of chemicals that can be very harmful to waterways and can severely damage the soil.

The ramifications of pouring motor oil down the drain or into other waterways are so serious that it’s illegal in many areas. Instead, see if a nearby auto store offers motor oil recycling.

Bones Can Break The Garbage Disposal

chicken-bones
achirathep/Pixabay
achirathep/Pixabay

After a night of chowing down on chicken wings, it may be tempting to toss them in the sink rather than have them stink up the trash. Garbage disposals are pretty tough, but they aren’t made to take on the chore of grinding up bones.

Even small bones can be detrimental to disposal blades, causing them to dull. Over time, the disposal may become less effective at grinding up other foods, leading to a clog.

Vegetable Peelings Can Get Stuck To The Side Of The Disposal

vegetable-peelings
BSIP/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
BSIP/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Vegetable peelings result from slicing the skin off veggies, so it seems logical that the blades of the garbage disposal should be able to handle the job. In this case, it isn’t about the thickness of the peelings, but rather the shape.

Vegetable peelings are so thin that they can easily get trapped in the side of the disposal. They can even get stuck along the side of the pipes, causing them to jam other food items.

Flushable Wipes Can Clog Sewer Pipes

flushable-wipes
Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Flushable wipes may be flushable in the sense that they’ll go down your toilet, but that doesn’t mean they’re made for pipes. These wipes often contain synthetic materials that make them too tough to break down in water.

As a result, they can end up clogging sewer lines. There’s a reason that the package says to use one at a time, but even that one can lead to a backup as you continue to use them.

Fruit Rinds Can Jam The Disposal

congerdesign/Pixabay
congerdesign/Pixabay

One hack you may have heard of to get your sink to smell fresh is putting citrus fruit rinds like lemon and lime down the sink. The idea is that they will release a pleasant smell and clear out any odors.

You would be better off using a liquid to clear sink odors, because fruit rinds can actually get stuck in the disposal. Their thin and long shape makes them easy to become lodged between the blades and pipes, causing a jam.