While drains (especially ones with garbage disposals) and pretty convenient for getting rid of foods and beverages you don’t want, there are some things that simply shouldn’t be put down them. Think twice before you head toward your sink or toilet with these items:
Starchy vegetables like rice, potatoes, pasta, and more swell when you add water to them, so putting them down the drain isn’t the best idea. Instead, use them in a homemade compost or throw them in the garbage. On the other hand, stringy vegetables like celery, corn husks, or artichokes don’t swell, but their fibrous strands can tangle and lead to a garbage disposal jam.
While it may seem easy to just dump that extra bacon grease or cooking oil down the drain, fats can actually end up clogging your pipes and cause your sewer system to back up. When this happens, you risk a flood of sewage seeping into your home and causing damage. Instead of dumping them down the drain, find a local restaurant that recycles cooking oils or add them to your compost.
Coffee grounds seem like something that could go down your drain easily, but in reality, they can build up and cause something of a sludge effect. Coffee grounds are actually great for homemade compost so you’re much better off recycling them instead of putting them down the drain.
Things like paint, solvents, anti-freeze, motor oil, or cleaning products should never be put down the drain. These materials contain contaminants that water treatment facilities often can’t remove, so they’ll end up polluting rivers and oceans. Instead, check your local guidelines to see where they should be disposed.
Many of today’s wipe brands say that they’re flushable, but this isn’t always the case. Flushable wipes have been causing plumbing issues for years, and many organizations are working to revoke the “flushable” stamp of approval. If you use adult or baby wipes, don’t flush them. Throw them away instead.
You may be tempted to flush extra medications down the toilet, but if these medications dissolve, they’ll contaminate the water (much like toxic materials). Water assessments have found everything from antibiotics to painkillers in water supplies throughout the U.S., so instead of flushing your meds, find an organization that works with hospitals or pharmacies to get rid of extra medication properly.