Surprising Foods You Shouldn't Put Down Your Drain

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Many people know that they shouldn't put bacon grease down the drain. But did you know that there are many other foods, like salad dressing, that can also cause serious plumbing problems?

What's the Problem With Putting Foods Down the Drain?

When certain foods are allowed to go down the drain, they can accumulate inside sewer pipes, becoming a public health issue, harming the environment, and increasing wastewater treatment costs.

As these foods build up, they restrict the flow in pipes and can cause untreated wastewater to back up into homes and businesses, resulting in high costs for cleanup and restoration.

Manholes can overflow in our neighborhoods and contaminate local waters, including drinking water. Exposure to untreated wastewater is a public-health hazard.

Communities spend billions of dollars every year unclogging or replacing grease-blocked pipes, repairing pump stations, and cleaning up costly and illegal wastewater spills. Excessive food, fats, oils, and grease in the sewer system can affect local wastewater rates. So, keeping food waste out of the sewer system helps everyone.

Ten Types of Foods You Shouldn't Put Down the Drain

  1. salad dressing—and similar products
  2. sour cream—and similar products
  3. gravy—and similar products
  4. cooking oil
  5. shortening
  6. lard
  7. butter
  8. margarine
  9. sauces
  10. meat fats in food scraps

What Should You Do to Prevent Problems?

Cooking Oil: Find a place to recycle it, if possible. Or dispose of it by pouring it into a sealable container and putting it in the trash. If you have a lot of oil to dispose of, you can also mix clay cat litter into the oil, a little at a time, then pour the litter into a trash bag.  Seal the bag and put it in your trash.

Food scraps: You can compost any vegetable or fruit scraps that don't have meat, bones, fish, dairy products, grease, or oil. Check out this video on composting to learn more. Other food scraps should be scraped into the trash. Place a catch basket in the sink to catch scraps and throw them in the trash. Don't use a garbage disposal. Greasy and non-greasy food scraps can still clog your pipes.

Dirty dishes: Wipe greasy dishes with dry paper towels before washing them, then throw away the paper towels. Don’t use cloth towels or rags to wipe greasy or oily dishware. When you wash the cloths, the grease will end up in the sewer. If you need to rinse dishes, use cold water.

Get more tips to protect water quality.

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