6 Items You Should Never Pour Down Your Drain

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Disposing of household waste down the drain may seem convenient, but it can lead to dire consequences for your plumbing system and the environment. It’s essential to be aware of what shouldn’t be poured down the drains to avoid costly repairs and environmental damage. Here are six items you should never pour down your drain:

1. Fats, Oils, and Grease (FOG)

Fats, oils, and grease, commonly referred by the acronym FOG, create significant problems when poured down the drain. They may go in as liquids, but as they cool, they solidify, clinging to the sides of your pipes and gradually building up over time. This can lead to blockages that are difficult and expensive to remove. Moreover, these blockages can cause sewage backups into homes or overflow into streets and local waterways, posing a threat to public health and the environment.

Instead of pouring them down the sink, let FOG cool and then scrape it into a container that can be thrown in the trash. For used cooking oil, consider finding a local recycling program that can convert it into biofuel.

2. Coffee Grounds

Coffee grounds might seem harmless, but they’re one of the leading causes of clogged drains. Unlike most foods that break down or dissolve in water, coffee grounds clump together, creating a gritty, sediment-like sludge that sticks to the pipes. Over time, the accumulation can build up and cause serious blockages.

The best way to dispose of coffee grounds is to add them to a compost pile if you have one. Otherwise, toss them in the trash. As an added benefit, coffee grounds can also keep odors at bay and can be used to scrub pots and pans before tossing.

3. Eggshells

Contrary to popular belief, eggshells do not help clean or sharpen the blades of your garbage disposal. They can actually combine with other waste to form blockages. Eggshells seem fragile, but when ground up by a garbage disposal, they form sharp, hard granules that can attach to other waste to create tough blockages. The membrane on the inside of eggshells can also stick to the sides of pipes, contributing to clogs. Dispose of eggshells in the trash, or crush them and use them in your garden as a calcium-rich fertilizer.

It’s better to throw eggshells in the compost bin or trash. Crushed eggshells can even be used in the garden, where they provide valuable nutrients to the soil and deter pests.

4. Medication

Flushing medication down the toilet or drain may seem like a safe disposal method, but it is highly problematic for the environment. Water treatment plants aren’t designed to fully remove pharmaceutical substances, which means these chemicals can end up in our rivers, lakes, and even drinking water, affecting wildlife and human health.

To properly dispose of unused or expired medications, take them to a local drug take-back program or follow the FDA’s guidelines for disposing of drugs in the household trash by mixing them with unpalatable substances like dirt or used coffee grounds in a sealed plastic bag.

5. Produce Stickers

Those little stickers on fruits and vegetables might not seem like a big deal, but they can cause issues if they end up in the drain. They are made of a type of plastic that does not degrade and can get stuck in pipes and screens at wastewater treatment plants, causing backups and equipment failures.

Always ensure you remove stickers from produce before washing them and dispose of them in the trash. It’s a small step that can prevent larger problems in the sewage system.

6. Paint and Chemicals

Paints, solvents, and household chemicals can corrode plumbing, disrupt the bacterial balance in septic systems, and pollute waterways. Always follow local guidelines for the disposal of hazardous waste, which often involve taking these materials to designated drop-off centers.


Protecting your plumbing system and the environment starts in our kitchens. By ensuring that none of these five items find their way down your drain, you help maintain your home’s plumbing integrity and contribute to the well-being of the ecosystem. Simple changes in our everyday habits can lead to substantial benefits for us and future generations. Remember, the drain is not a catch-all, and what we put down there can come back to haunt us in more ways than one.

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