9 Things Plumbers Say You Should Never Pour Down the Drain

Save your pipes—and your wallet—from any costly future repairs.

Whether you’re cleaning your kitchen after a big meal or finishing a painting project, it can be tempting to pour just about anything liquid—or sometimes even solids—down the drain. But some substances can destroy your pipes. Keeping your drain clear of these materials will help you and your family enjoy a well-functioning kitchen and unspoiled water supply. From coffee grounds to household cleaners, here are nine things plumbers say you shouldn’t pour down the drain.

<p>Winnond/Getty Images</p>

Winnond/Getty Images

Related: How to Unclog a Sink Drain—6 Different Ways


<p>Rattankun Thongbun/Getty Images</p>

Rattankun Thongbun/Getty Images

“Paint contains harmful chemicals that can corrode pipes and should be disposed of according to local regulations,” says Kyle Leman, CEO and founder of Crossroads Foundation Repair.

Pouring paint down the drain can contaminate water sources and damage your pipes. Read the label on paint that you use and dispose of it according to the directions. If in doubt, take leftover paint to a hazardous waste disposal center.

Grease, Fats, and Oils

<p>MurzikNata/Getty Images</p>

MurzikNata/Getty Images

When you’re cooking, resist the urge to pour fats, oils, and grease down the drain, as these heavy materials can block your pipes.

“These substances can solidify and clog your pipes, leading to severe blockages in your plumbing and the public sewer system,” says Shlomo Cherniak, owner of Cherniak Home Services in Baltimore.

Fibrous Vegetables

<p>Toxitz/Getty Images</p>

Toxitz/Getty Images

Vegetables are another common food thrown down kitchen sink drains. Avoid throwing fibrous vegetables such as onions, celery, corn husks, fruit peels, and artichokes into your drain.

“Items like celery, artichokes, and onion skins can get tangled in the disposal motor, causing jams and obstructing water flow,” says Cherniak. “These fibrous materials can lead to costly repairs and major inconvenience.”

Instead of throwing them down the drain, add fibrous vegetables to your compost or trash.

Starchy Foods

<p>dolgachov/Getty images</p>

dolgachov/Getty images

Starchy foods like potatoes and pasta should not be poured down the drain because they can also clog the pipes. Use a strainer in your sink to prevent these foods from going down the drain.

“Foods like potatoes, rice, and pasta can expand with water, creating a glue-like substance that clogs your pipes,” says Cherniak. “The starch from potatoes can cause your disposal blades to stick, and peels can adhere to the sides of your pipes. Use a strainer to catch starchy food particles before they enter the drain.”

Household Cleaners

<p>Carol Yepes/Getty Images</p>

Carol Yepes/Getty Images

Do not pour household cleaners down the drain. Cleaners can damage pipes and harm the environment. Instead, take cleaners to a hazardous waste disposal site.

“Many household cleaners contain corrosive chemicals that can damage pipes and harm septic systems,” Leman says.

Related: 5 Cleaning Products You Don’t Actually Need, According to Professional Cleaners

Coffee Grounds

<p>Sergei Chumakov / photonyx.net/Getty Images</p>

Sergei Chumakov / photonyx.net/Getty Images

Coffee lovers can fall into the habit of pouring coffee grounds down the drain, but this can seriously damage pipes. Throw your grounds into the compost or trash instead.

“Coffee grounds can accumulate in pipes, causing clogs and expensive future repairs,” Cherniak says. “They are oily and can clump up, making it difficult for water to pass through.”

Produce Stickers

<p>krblokhin/getty images</p>

krblokhin/getty images

Produce stickers are a small but sticky substance that can block your pipes. Peel stickers off your produce and dispose of them in the trash.

“Produce stickers can stick to pipes and cause blockages or get caught in water treatment filters,” Leman says.

Kitty Litter

<p>Cris Cantón/Getty Images</p>

Cris Cantón/Getty Images

Do not throw cat litter into the toilet, even if it’s labeled as flushable. Instead, dispose of the litter in the trash. “Even products labeled as ‘flushable’ can clump and block your pipes,” Leman says.


<p>Carol Yepes/Getty Images</p>

Carol Yepes/Getty Images

“Eggshells don’t decompose quickly and can build up, making it hard for anything else to go down the drain,” Cherniak says. “They can stick to the sides of your pipes, leading to blockages.”

Instead of allowing eggshells to go into the drain, add them to your compost or trash.

Related: Can You Eat Egg Shells? The Answer Is Surprising

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