6 Common Household Items to Keep Out of Your Drain

Common Household Items

There are certain foods and other household items that should never go down the drain. Whether you are in a hurry or just want to get rid of a household item you no longer need, it’s important not to treat your drainage system as a garbage dumpster.

Common Household Items
Image Source: Google Images

Here are the six common household items that you should keep out of your drain.

  1. ‘Flushable’ Wipes:

    Have you recently brought home ‘flushable’ wipes?

    Maybe you made the switch from ordinary toilet paper because the sales guy at the store told you that these new wipes are truly ‘flushable.’

    But, are they?

    Unfortunately, a majority of wipes that are marketed as ‘flushable,’ can clog your drain.

    Plumbing specialists have been telling homeowners, hoteliers, and others that wipes – including those labeled as ‘flushable’ or ‘septic safe’ – are problem number one for sewer systems.

    Yes, these wipes can flush easily, but there is always a chance that they will cause an issue down the line. The wipes start forming a clump, especially when they hit a 45-degree elbow within your plumbing system. Eventually, these wipes can block the drainpipe or shut the sewer.

    The LA County Sanitation Districts recently pointed this out in a tweet:

    Put simply, just because you can flush such wipes does not mean you should!

    Plumbers worldwide spend countless hours dredging up mushy clumps of wipes from blocked sewers daily.

    After all, wet pipes – be they baby wipes, makeup remover wipes, general cleaning wipes, body wipes, or pre-moistened towelettes for toilet use – are now found in every home.

    Regardless of what the container label says, remember that most of these wipes do not biodegrade or decompose quickly enough and can clog your drain pipes.

    According to wastewater treatment experts, the wipes in sewer systems can even damage the wastewater equipment.

    So, make sure to keep wipes, napkins, paper towels, facial tissues, etc., out of your drain. Put them in a trash can instead.

  2. Starchy Foods:

    Starchy and fibrous foods such as potatoes, pasta, celery, onion skins, corn, corn husks, asparagus, etc., tend to expand in the garbage disposal.

    If you have cooked pasta, you may have observed that it absorbs water and expands. The same holds true for other starchy foods.

    When you rinse starchy foods and fibrous vegetables down the drain, they form sticky clusters, or giant balls that obstruct your pipes and also wrap around the blades and damage the motor, thus causing a major sewer backup.

    So, the next time you want to get rid of potatoes peels, stale starchy food, or fibrous vegetable waste, throw them in the garbage can or a compost heap.

    Apply the same rule to coffee grounds, flour, fruit pits, seafood shells, and beans.

    If you think the water flow through your drain pipes is getting too slow because you’ve rinsed too much food down the drain already, consider using an enzyme cleaner to break down the food waste.

    Avoid using harsh chemical cleaners as they can provide short-term results but corrode the drain pipes in the long-term and result in hidden leaks that promote mold growth and require costly repairs.

  3. Eggshells:

    This one might seem easy to guess, but too many people toss eggshells into the sink.

    Contrary to popular belief, eggshells are NOT good for your drain. No, they won’t sharpen the blades. It’s just an old, popular myth.

    Eggshells seem fragile, but they can pack together inside your pipes and block your drains. Egg shells form a tiny granular waste inside the pipes that can easily stick to any sludge. Thus, eggshells can quickly create a clog and force you to spend on costly plumbing repairs.

    So, make sure not to dump eggshells in the sink. You can toss them into the bin or use them in your garden.

  4. Fats, Cooking Oils, and Grease:

    Collectively referred to as ‘FOG,’ fats, oils, and grease can solidify at room temperature. When inside your drain pipes, they solidify within minutes, stick to the pipes, and create nasty clogs.

    Cooking oils, fats, and grease, such as that from bacon, poultry, meat, gravy, etc., coagulate inside your drain pipes and create an ideal environment for different materials to stick together and form lumps that obstruct the flow.

    So, make sure these things never go down your kitchen sink. Wait for them to cool or wipe them with a napkin and dispose of them in the trash can.

  5. Medicines:

    Most homeowners have old medications at home, somewhere in their medicine cabinets. Whether they are past their expiration dates or are no longer needed, don’t throw them down the drain or toilet.

    When you flush expired or unused medication down the drain, the chemical compounds inside them are likely to be leaked back into your drinking water supply and the local environment. In many places around the United States and elsewhere globally, public wastewater treatment systems aren’t equipped to filter chemicals found in various medications. Therefore, these drugs can eventually wind up in the drinking water supply.

    In many cases, chemicals in medications can also cause serious damage to aquatic environments. Thus, the drug you put down the sink can eventually hurt marine life at a local river or sea.

    Even a seemingly harmless headache pill, which is safe for us humans to consume, can prove lethal for marine life.

    So, be sure to drop off unused or expired medications at a local pharmacy, which can dispose of them safely along with other medical waste.

  6. Household Fluids to Keep Out of Your Drain:

    Do not pour common household cleaners for glass, granite, etc., down the drain, especially if they are toxic.

    Any fluid that comes out of your vehicle or an appliance should also be kept out of your drain. Used motor oil, for instance, can pollute the environment as well as the water supply as per the information published by the United States Environmental Protection Agency.

    Excess paints, whether oil-based or water-based, should not be dumped in the sink or toilet. Paint sticks to drain pipes and impedes other materials from getting through. Leftover paint should always be left to dry and NOT poured down the drain.

    Bleach will not directly damage your septic system or the environment. But, if your drain pipes have been recently exposed to ammonia – found in detergents, cleaning solutions, and even drain cleaners – the addition of bleach can result in the production of harmful chloramine gas.

About Dave and Jim Schuelke

For the past 30 years, twin brothers Dave and Jim Schuelke have run their company Twin Home Experts. Twin Home Experts is also one of the fastest-growing YouTube channels online for valuable content to both homeowners and plumbers showcasing DIY and frequently asked questions.

View all posts by Dave and Jim Schuelke →

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