Foods You Shouldn't Wash Down the Drain
The next time you’re cleaning up after dinner, pay attention to what’s going down the drain. Sure, we all know not to dump bacon grease. But there are several other foods that can also cause serious plumbing problems and harm the environment.
Fats, oils, and grease—or FOG—is any food waste that should not go down the drain. This includes cooking oil, pan drippings, gravy, bacon grease, lard, shortening, butter, margarine, salad dressings, mayonnaise, creams, and sauces. Even non-greasy food scraps can clog your home’s wastewater lines, so you should avoid putting food of any kind down your drain.
Food buildup restricts the flow in pipes and can cause untreated wastewater to back up into homes and businesses, resulting in high costs for cleanup and restoration. In extreme cases, manholes can overflow in neighborhoods and contaminate local waters, including drinking water.
Communities spend billions of dollars every year unclogging or replacing blocked pipes, repairing pump stations, and cleaning up costly and illegal wastewater spills–all of which can affect local wastewater rates. So, keeping food waste out of the sewer system helps everyone.
Luckily, there are simple steps everyone can take to avoid costly clogs, protect public health, and keep our water clean.
- Don’t pour FOG down the sink or toilet.
- Recycle used cooking oil or pour it into a sealable container and place it in the trash. If you have a lot of oil, mix it with cat litter a little at a time and pour it in a sealed bag in the trash.
- Eliminate your use of a garbage disposal. Food scraps of any kind can plug your home’s wastewater lines. Instead, compost food scraps when possible and throw the rest in the trash.
- Place a strainer in the sink drain to catch small food scraps.
- Don’t run water over dishes or cookware to wash oil or grease down the sink. Instead, wipe them with a paper towel and throw the towel in the trash. Don’t use cloth towels or rags to wipe greasy or oily dishware; when you wash the rags, the grease will end up in the sewer. If you need to rinse dishes, use cold water.
- Don’t flush any type of wipes down the commode, even the flushable ones. Food can cling to them and build up more quickly in wastewater pipes.