It’s convenient to rinse stuff down the kitchen sink and flush it with hot water. The toilet runs a close second as a tempting garbage receptacle. But abusing your drains can lead to disgusting, smelly and costly problems. Each time you dispose of inappropriate articles, you’re risking damage to your drains and pipes and endangering the environment! Following is a list of things that you should avoid dumping down your drains.
- Grease (bacon fat, lard, vegetable oil, shortening, butter, margarine, mayo, salad dressing, etc.) congeals causing other items to get stuck and creating clogs and blockages. Pour grease in an empty cardboard milk container and dispose of it in your garbage can.
- Milk and milk products: Pouring expired milk products (yogurt, cheese, butter, ice-cream, cream) down the drain clogs drains and suffocates the ecosystem of the sewer system. To avoid the need to dispose of milk products, look closely at expiration dates before buying and purchase smaller quantities.
- Coffee grounds are one of the worst offenders for causing drain blockages! Compost them if you can or dispose of them in the garbage can.
- Bones and eggshells: Garbage disposals may grind bones and eggshells but the shards often form clumps and capture other items. Eggshells are compostable and bones can be disposed of in the garbage can.
- Pasta, rice, and bread expand in your pipes when flushed down the drain. They cause an initial clog and then contribute to further clogs by sticking to the inside of your pipes.
- Flour coagulates and hardens when flushed down the drain. It coats your pipes and catches other bits of debris making its way through the system. It should be disposed of in the garbage can.
- Pits, seeds, and kernels (cherry pits, apple cores, popcorn kernels, sesame seeds, poppy seeds, etc.) should be composted or put in the garbage as they contribute to clogs in your pipes.
- Gum is sticky! Seems obvious why it wouldn’t be wise to put it down your drain.
- Stickers: The stickers found on fruits and veggies are made of plastic and stick to the walls of your pipes. Dispose of them in the garbage can.
- Hair (human, pet, doll, stuffed animal) should not be flushed down the toilet or drain as it contributes to clogs.
- Paper products: Baby wipes, wet wipes, flushable wipes, napkins and paper towels do not dissolve quickly or thoroughly and do not belong in your septic system or sewage lines. Try using washable cotton cloths. The only paper product that should go down your drain is toilet paper as it’s designed to disintegrate in water.
- Feminine hygiene products (tampons, pads, the packaging they come in) do not break down thoroughly causing clogs in your pipes as well as in the city sewer system.
- Diapers: Even diapers that claim to be flushable cause clogs in your pipes.
- Flammable and/or explosive substances may react with other elements in your pipes causing toxic gasses or an explosion.
- Fibrous materials (cotton balls, cotton swabs, cigarette butts, fabric softener/dryer sheets, flushable wipes, wet wipes, etc.) damage your system and harm wastewater treatment centers.
- Fibrous foods (celery, carrots, potato peels, corn husks, asparagus, etc.) get caught in a garbage disposal’s blades causing “food hairballs” in your pipes. Compost these foods instead.
- Cat litter and animal feces clog drains and attract harmful bacteria and vermin. Even litter labelled “flushable” should not be discarded down drains. Ask your local vet for advice on dumping pet waste in a healthy manner.
- Band‐aids and dental floss turn into large clogs when flushed down the toilet.
- Razors, blades, syringes and needles cause injury to municipal sewage workers and to wildlife. Contact your local pharmacy or public health authority for safe ways to dispose of this type of item.
- Condoms, balloons, or rubber gloves can inflate causing destructive obstructions. Flushed down toilets, they make their way to oceans and can be mistaken for food by animal life.
- Prescription medications, lotions and cosmetics are toxic to wildlife and leech into our drinking water when disposed of through the sewer system. Check with your doctor or local public health authority for disposal programs.
- Bottle caps (metal or plastic) will ruin your garbage disposal and get stuck in the pipes.
- Excessive amounts of soap can clog drains as the residue builds up and catches other substances. Use smaller quantities of detergent, shampoo and toothpaste.
- Chemicals (solvents, cleaning solutions, paint, nail polish, transmission fluid, anti‐freeze, motor oil) are toxic. When put down the drain, they end up in lakes, rivers and oceans causing harm to vulnerable ecosystems. Most municipalities have hazardous waste facilities/collection sites in place.
- Non-food items (cigarette butts, plastic wrappers, styrofoam, etc.) may seem soft enough for your garbage disposal to shred but cause problems in the sewer system. Dispose of them in the garbage can.
Reduce clogs and blockages by keeping inappropriate objects/substances away from your drains. To avoid temptation, place a trash can next to the toilet and another by the kitchen sink. With a little effort, you can keep your drains and pipes clean and functional. When problems arise, call your local plumber for advice and assistance.
Having trouble with clogged drains and pipes? Call Calgary-based Plumbing Paramedics. Our plumbing technicians are friendly, informative and accommodating. Plumbing Paramedics hires only those we would trust in our own homes! Our certified plumbers can handle any plumbing task or problem!