Drains and plumbing systems are designed to dispose of liquids, but many people mistakenly think it’s fine to put other things down the drain. Common foods, cooking byproducts, and household items can damage your pipes, leave you with clogs and expensive plumbing repair bills, and even affect human and animal health.

Foods That Are Dangerous to Drains
Greasy items, such as cooking oil, mayonnaise, salad dressing, butter, margarine and grease left over after cooking meat, can congeal and block pipes over time. They can also combine with other things that go down the drain and form sludge that makes it difficult or impossible for water to get through. Pour grease, fat or oil into a jar, let it cool, then dispose of it in the trash.

Coffee grounds can be a problem because they aren’t completely water soluble. If they mix with grease or oil already in the pipes, the combination can cause a blockage.

Pasta and rice that go down the drain can absorb water when you run the faucet. That can cause them to swell up and clog the pipes.

If you’ve ever mixed flour and water, you know that it produces a thick, sticky mess. Putting flour down the drain and then running the water is like coating your pipes with glue.

Household Items That Can Damage Your Plumbing and More
The small amount of adhesive found on the stickers affixed to produce is enough to cause the stickers to cling to pipes. In addition, the stickers are often not water soluble. That means they can get stuck or can get carried down pipes and affect the water treatment process later.

Even though paper towels are biodegradable, it takes time for them to dissolve. If you put them down the drain, they can absorb more water and clog the pipes before they break down.

Disposing of unneeded medication down the drain might not damage the pipes, but pharmaceuticals contain all sorts of chemicals that can be hazardous to people and animals if they get into the water supply. Find a local program that will help you dispose of unneeded medication safely.

Household cleaners, paint and vehicle fluids should not be poured down a drain, even if they’re diluted, because they can introduce toxic chemicals into the water supply. Contact your local waste management company to find out where you can drop off those products so they can be disposed of safely or recycled.

Protect Your Plumbing and Public Health
Many people pour all sorts of things down the drain without realizing the amount of damage they can cause. Don’t put any of these items down the drain in your kitchen or bathroom or flush them down the toilet. Find ways to dispose of them safely and responsibly.

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2020. All rights reserved.

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