There’s an old saying: “If you wouldn’t put it in your stomach, you shouldn’t put it down your drain.” Though there are exceptions to every rule, you would be surprised how many things our team has found inside of drains over the years. The list is long (and will most likely gross you out), but we’ve collected some of the more common items that we’ve pulled out of kitchens, toilets, and even shower drains, and listed them here. Learn from the mistakes of others and keep your pipes clear.
1. Kitchen Grease
This one is relatively understandable. As happens so often in cooking dinner or frying up some bacon, the pan is left with residual fat or oil that is caked on to the bottom. It makes sense then, to simply turn it over and pour it down the sink.
It’s not too much of an exaggeration to say that doing is one of the absolute worst things you can do for your pipes.
Though more of a liquid form when it’s hot, grease, fat, and oil have ways of getting hard when they cool down and sticking to the sides of pipes, usually trapping other materials that go down with it. If they don’t clog up the pipes by themselves, the other debris will, and even in the rare case that all of it goes into the public sewer system, it can still mix with other particles and wreak havoc on the entire network.
2. Chicken Bones
While chicken bones (and really, any hard waste such as egg shells) may seem like no big deal, the damage here is not only to your pipes but also to your disposal system. They can become lodged in the disposal system and tear up the motor, and once they go down the pipe, can collect with other particles to form a really tough clog. While some clogs can be simply sucked out, the ones that result from hard food waste are extra tough.
Toilet paper is designed to be flushed down the piping system (in small amounts). The same cannot be said for paper towels, feminine hygiene products, cotton balls, Q-tips, and just about anything else under the sun. While some are accidentally dropped in and flushed without anyone noticing, deliberately – and repeatedly – throwing these items in the trash is a sure-fire way to block your system.
We don’t see diapers down too many drains, but when we do, it’s usually as a result of a toddler taking it out of the trash and chunking it in the toilet. And since toddlers love to flush the toilet, they press the handle and the water slowly fills the tank, over the rim, and onto the floor. The easiest way to alleviate this problem is to throw diapers in the trash outside, since removing them from a toilet pipe is as messy as you would think.
It’s nearly impossible to avoid some hair going down the drain, whether in the shower or the sink (especially if you have a Chewbacca living in your household). Still, the more that accumulates, the slower the pipe will drain, and eventually, you’ll have to manually unclog the pipe. There are devices that you can sit in your drain to catch the hair, but one of the easiest ways is to scoop up the excess and throw it in the trash rather than washing it down.
6. Coffee Grounds
Like hair, chicken bones, and other non-digestible debris, coffee grounds have a way of accumulating and then clogging up your pipes. Take the few extra steps and throw them in your trash, or if you’ve got a green thumb, sprinkle them in your garden to act as a boost to your fertilizer.
While these may not actually clog your pipes, flushing household cleaners, paints, and other chemically-based liquids can destroy your city’s water supply. Most cities have specific regulations against disposing of them down your drain; if caught, you could be looking at a huge fine. Check with your local municipality to see the regulations to dispose of chemicals, but never, ever, flush them down your drain.