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Top 9 Things You Should NEVER Put Down Your Drains

paint running down sink drain

Sometimes, it’s tempting to see your kitchen sink drain as the quickest and most effective way to make kitchen and household waste disappear. It’s common for people to think that all they have to do is stuff something down the drain, run a little bit of water, click on the garbage disposal, and have waste disappear forever. Unfortunately, there are some times when that decision can come back to haunt you. 

Several materials may go down the drain initially but not disappear forever. Instead, they go down and begin to form nasty clogs that will back up your sink. If you’re wondering what not to put down your drain to avoid nasty clogs, Curtis Total Service, a professional provider of drain cleaning in Allentown, PA, can help answer that question.

Here are some suggestions on what not to put down your drains and advice on how to dispose of them instead:

#1 – Coffee Grounds 

Coffee grounds do not dissolve in water. Instead, they can clump up when in water and clog your pipes. If you don’t want to throw coffee grounds into the trash, they can be used as garden fertilizer, providing plants with nitrogen, phosphorus, and micronutrients.

#2 – Kitty Litter

The concept behind kitty litter that makes it beneficial for cats is that it clumps when it gets wet. This clumping action makes cleaning a lump of kitty litter out of a pan easier, but it’s also precisely what can cause kitty litter to block your drain. So instead of dumping kitty litter down a drain, dispose of it in a trash can. It can also be composted. 

#3 – Rice

You may not think of rice as one of the things you should not put down your drain. But small grains of rice are not going to be cut up by your garbage disposal, and rice expands in water, so large amounts of rice can clog your drain. Leftover rice should be thrown into a trash can or composted.

#4 – Cotton Balls

Cotton balls are not designed to break down quickly like paper products intended for bathroom use. Wads of cotton balls can create blockages that get stuck in your pipes. Instead of tossing them down the drain, used cotton balls should be thrown into the trash.

#5 – Grease, Fats, & Oils

Cooking grease, fats, and oils may be liquid in your frying pan, but once that grease cools down in your sewer system, it will become solid and can block your water supply. When disposing of grease, it’s best to let it cool and become solid before throwing it in a trash can.

Alternatively, there are many creative solutions for repurposing cooking grease and oil. Many people save bacon grease and use it to flavor other recipes. Cooking grease can be used to make suet for birds by adding bird seed, oats, nuts, and berries and then letting it dry. Leftover cooking oil can be filtered and used to make oil-burning lanterns. 

#6 – Paint

Your sink should never be used for the disposal of paint. Pouring paint down a drain can cause blockages that are expensive to fix. Unused paint can be donated to local charities. If latex paint has dried out, throwing it in a trash can is safe. You can add cat litter to leftover paint and throw it out after the clump dries. Oil paints are considered hazardous waste and should be disposed of properly with your municipality or local hazardous waste facility.

#7 – Produce Stickers

Produce stickers don’t break down quickly, and their adhesive backing can stick to the inside of your plumbing or other waste traveling through the system, causing blockages. So after removing produce stickers, always throw them into your trash.

#8 – Paper Towels

Many brands of paper towels are designed to be absorbent and avoid breaking down when exposed to water; this makes them ideal for cleaning spills off your counter but unfriendly to your plumbing. Used paper towels should be thrown into the trash.

#9 – Candle Wax

Like cooking grease, candle wax is liquid when hot but quickly solidifies once it cools down. If candle wax cools before it can make it through your plumbing system, it can cause clogs. Wait for candle wax to cool and solidify, then throw it into the trash.

What to Do if You Accidentally Clogged a Drain

Knowing what not to put down your drains is important, but what if you already have a clogged drain? If you find yourself faced with a clogged drain, there are many safe methods to try to unclog it. One way is using baking soda and vinegar for drains that are clogged. You start by pouring one cup of baking powder into the drain and then adding a cup of vinegar, followed by boiling water. The fizzing action may be enough to unclog your drain. 

If that trick doesn’t work, avoid attempting to clear the clog using toxic drain cleaning products that can damage your plumbing and expose you to health risks. Instead, contact Curtis Total Service. We offer 24/7 emergency drain cleaning service and can get your drains flowing again no matter what is causing the clog. So contact us today to get your sinks unclogged.