10 Things to Never Pour Down the Drain

Rose gold sink

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A clogged sink or tub drain is one of the most frustrating home problems topped only by a clogged toilet. It always seems to happen at the worst possible moment. Not every plumbing problem can be prevented, but many can by changing our behaviors. There are certain materials that solidify and clog pipes or overwhelm garbage disposals that prevent water from passing through, so if you know which ones they are, you can keep them from going down the drain.

We can also do damage that isn't immediately evident but pollutes our water supplies by pouring toxic chemicals into a septic system or municipal water supply. Those chemicals end up in our groundwater, rivers, and oceans adversely affecting the health of the planet. Below, you can learn about 10 things to never pour down the drain.

  • 01 of 10

    Coffee Grounds

    Used coffee grounds spilling out of filter

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    Coffee grounds like to stick together and form a lump in plumbing pipes that just won't budge easily. So, even a few grounds every day can begin to add up to a problem. Luckily, coffee grounds have uses around the house and are a great addition to garden compost piles. They add nitrogen that helps break down plant material and boost the performance of the soil.

  • 02 of 10

    Cooking Grease and Oils

    Bacon cooking in cast iron skillet

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    You know what happens when animal fat cools—it solidifies. If it's poured down the drain when that happens, it blocks pipes. Even vegetable oils like olive, corn, and coconut that don't fully solidify coat pipes and trap other food particles.

    Allow animal fats to harden and dispose of them in a trash receptacle. Reuse oils when possible or check with your municipality about recycling cooking oil.

  • 03 of 10

    Rice and Grains

    Rice in a tan bowl on wood grain counter

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    When water is added to rice or dry grains, they expand. If you pour them down the sink, they do the same thing and clog the pipe. Add the grains to the compost pile or dispose of them in a garbage bin.

  • 04 of 10


    Empty egg shells in kitchen sink

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    Eggshells take a very long time to dissolve in water. And, even if they are ground up in a garbage disposal, the membranes can cause clogs to form. The best way to dispose of eggshells is to add them to the compost heap or toss in the trash.

    Continue to 5 of 10 below.
  • 05 of 10

    Doughs and Batters

    Mom and child making dough in large bowl

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    Just as uncooked rice and grains can swell in water, so can batters and dough. Take the time to add it to the compost pile or scrape it into the trash before washing bowls and utensils to prevent rinsing it down the sink.

  • 06 of 10


    Turquoise oil plant seeping into sink drain

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    Pouring paint down the drain can leave your sink permanently stained and your pipes in need of a plumber. Every type of paint should be disposed of properly to prevent the chemicals from entering our groundwater.

    Most waste management companies will accept paint cans that have a small amount of paint that has been allowed to dry out before disposing of the can. Paint can also be mixed with kitty litter before disposal. Full cans are considered hazardous waste and you should contact a waste management collection center for proper disposal procedures in your area.

  • 07 of 10

    Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides

    White bottle with yellow toxic poison sign on wood counter with yellow cleaning gloves

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    While some household cleaning products recommended for cleaning a sink or toilet contain hazardous chemicals, the concentration is low. Most hazardous products like paint thinners, lacquers, or dry cleaning solvents should never be poured down a sink. The same applies to garden pesticides.

    Contact your local waste management collection center about proper disposal methods as it can vary between locations.

  • 08 of 10

    Flushable and Nonflushable Wipes

    Female hand holding flushable wipe over toilet

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    Many brands of personal hygiene wipes claim to be flushable but none of them are actually that good for your plumbing system. Attempting to flush too many wipes forms a ball that will clog the toilet and never dissolve. The same is true for condoms and feminine hygiene products. Keep a small lined trash can beside the toilet for their disposal.

    Paper towels, cotton balls, make-up pads, and disinfecting wipes for cleaning or hand sanitizing should also be disposed of properly in a trash can—never down the toilet.

    Continue to 9 of 10 below.
  • 09 of 10

    Kitty Litter

    Gloved hand holding scooped kitty litter as cat looks on

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    Even kitty litter box brands that promise to be flushable are better placed in a lined trash can or composted properly. Small amounts of litter add up and can form clogs especially in the tanks of septic systems.

  • 10 of 10

    Prescription Medications

    Prescription medication bottle open with white pills spilling out

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    If you dump a bottle of pills down the sink or in the toilet, while it's possible they will form a clog, they usually dissolve. The real problem is that those chemicals are entering the water system affecting living organisms and our food supply.

    Most pharmacies will accept old medications for recycling. The Drug Enforcement Agency hosts a National Prescription Drug Take Back Day each year in April and October. Check with your local law enforcement department to see if they are participating.