10 Things that Should NEVER Go Down the Drain

10 Things That Should NEVER Go Down the Drain

The sink drain: so inviting and so useful, but not everything that CAN go down the drain SHOULD go down the drain. Clogged drains can led to nasty back-ups in your home or in the street; toxic chemicals can cause issues with wastewater treatment. Protect your pipes and the environment by keeping these ten things out of your pipes.

1. Grease, including cooking grease, gasoline, and motor oils

“Grease will coat the inside of the pipe thereby decreasing the size of the pipe,” said NBC Pretreatment Manager Kerry Britt. “Over time the pipe can become clogged causing backups into homes and businesses and can cause manholes to surcharge onto the street.” NBC Interceptor Maintenance Manager Mike Caruolo added, “In the pipes that grease will combine with disposable wipes and other solid materials to create large obstructions known as ‘fatbergs’.” In 2017 in London, a 130-ton fatberg clogged up an entire section of the city’s sewer system. For cooking grease, the NBC’s grease-fighting superhero Mr. Can encourages us all to “Cool it and can it!”

2. Pasta and Rice

In Rhode Island, we have some of the best pasta in the country, so even though we probably rarely have any leftovers, sometimes a few rigatoni will end up down the drain during dinner clean-up. Pasta and rice are very high in starch and continue to expand (even after they’re cooked) when they come in contact with water. A single strand of angel hair down the sink might not be a big deal, but a heaping plate of risotto can lead to a clogged pipe and as Mr. Can warns, “a CODE ICKY.”

3. Household Fluids

Concentrated household cleaners, liquid weed and insect killers, car fluids, and paint can be harmful when they go down the drain. “Although they may not clog your pipes, these liquids can disrupt the sensitive biological environment we need to properly treat our wastewater,” said Paul Desrosiers, Operations Manager at the NBC’s Field’s Point Wastewater Treatment Facility. Marc Pariseault, Operations Manager at the NBC’s Bucklin Point facility adds, “Solvents and corrosive substances can erode sewer pipes as well as our treatment facilities.” To properly dispose of household hazardous waste, check out the Eco-Depot at the Rhode Island Resource Recovery Corporation.

4. Medication

Sending medications through your pipes might not seem like a big deal and it likely won’t clog them, but recent research indicates that our discarded medications are impacting our water supply. Drugs in our rivers, streams, lakes and oceans have definite and disturbing impacts on aquatic species. Oral contraceptives, anti-depressants, hypertension drugs, antibiotics, and antihistamines are among the products that bioaccumulate in aquatic species and interfere with the food chain. Ultimately those chemicals can return to our drinking water supply, as well. The RI Department of Health provides guidelines for safely disposing of prescription drugs on their website.

5. Flour

This kitchen staple is bad news when it comes to your pipes. Think about how flour gets when you mix it with water: it basically becomes glue and dries into cement. Flour will quickly clog your pipes and even cause your garbage disposal to get stuck. Things made with flour---like cookie dough or bread dough---can have the same effect. Just like rice and pasta, a small amount probably isn’t the end of the world, but in large quantities may require a visit from the plumber.

6. Oatmeal and other cooked cereals

A big bowl of oatmeal: so good for your heart, but not for your pipes. Like pasta and rice, oatmeal and other cereals and grains will continue to absorb water even after they are cooked. Expanding grains can join with fats to solidify and cause a blockage.

7. Coffee Grounds

Coffee: can’t get the day started without it! Enjoy your cup (or three), but don’t toss the grounds down the sink. Coffee grounds can cause a buildup in your pipes, especially when they combine with grease (sensing a pattern here?). So what should you do with your old coffee grounds? They’re great for compost and a natural deterrent to a lot of garden pests. Just sprinkle them around your garden to prevent unwanted bugs and critters.

8. Egg Shells

Did you ever hear that egg shells are good for sharpening the blades on the garbage disposal? It’s a myth. Garbage disposals don’t have blades. They have impellers that are blunt, not sharp. In addition, the membrane inside the egg shell can get wrapped around the impellers and cause damage. Further on in the pipe, the shells can get caught in congealed grease and contribute to fatbergs. They are great for the compost bin, though!

9. Produce Stickers

Those tiny stickers that come on fruits and vegetables might seem insignificant, but they aren’t water soluble and can build up in your drain and stick to your pipes. So: keep eating your 5-a-Day, but remove those stickers and put them in the trash before washing your produce

10. Food fat

Much like our #1 culprit grease, food fats like cheese, ice-cream, mayonnaise, milk and butter can clog the pipes and lead to a very unappetizing back-up. Nut butters and coconut oil are no-nos as well.

This article originally was published in GoLocalProv.com.