Protecting your drains from severe blockages starts with knowing what you shouldn’t put down them in the first place. There are plenty of items that homeowners mistakenly think are harmless to flush down the toilet or wash away down the kitchen sink, when in fact, these materials could be causing serious clogs in their plumbing system.
Find out the do’s and don’ts of proper drain use by reading up on the 10 things you should never put down your pipes!
5 Things That Shouldn’t Go Down Your Kitchen Drain
#1 – Grease, Oils & Fats
Many people think grease and oil are safe to send down the drain because they are liquid. But grease and oil can easily solidify when they come into contact with cold water or metal. Solidified grease, oil, and fats are among the most popular causes of clogged drains in Maryland households.
To keep these materials out of your plumbing system, drain any cooking oil and grease in your pans. Solidified fats can go in the trash can; hot oil should go into a temperature-safe container. Use a paper towel to dab away any lingering fatty residue before taking cookware to your sink.
These precautions can prevent excess grease buildup in your drains and avoid a serious blockage.
#2 – Starchy, Fibrous Foods
Food items generally shouldn’t go down your drains, but starchy, fibrous foods are particularly dangerous for plumbing systems. Potatoes, bread, rice, pasta, and the like are all absorbent, meaning they swell up like a sponge when they come in contact with water.
When they’re sent down your drains or garbage disposal, the water in your system will cause them to expand, lodging them in your pipes. Always carefully scrape off the contents of your plate into a garbage can before washing the dishes so you can keep fibrous foods from clogging your system.
#3 – Fruit Pits
One little cherry pit might not seem like it could do a lot of damage — until it finds its way into your garbage disposal or drain. Fruit pits are notorious for clogging up garbage disposals, causing units to grind to a halt any time one gets stuck between the blades.
Not only that, but a fruit pit lying dormant in your pipes can become easily trapped, causing debris to build up slowly over time until a stubborn blockage interrupts your system. Keep these pesky pits out of your plumbing!
#4 – Leftover Coffee Grounds
Sending coffee grounds down the drain can damage your plumbing, but usually only when grease and volume are significant factors. Let’s say, for instance, that you empty the contents of your used coffee filter into your kitchen sink shortly after pouring out the butter from your frying pan for the eggs you made that morning.
The chances are fairly high that the cold water running over that fatty butter will cause it to solidify, making it easy to trap all those coffee grounds and create a clog.
Usually, a small amount of grounds can be pushed down safely with enough water pressure. However, if you’re someone who makes a habit of washing greasy dishes or emptying your used grounds into the sink, it’s probably best to rethink these practices, as this combination will cause trouble for your drains.
#5 – Animal Bones
Plumbing systems are comprised of a series of connected pipes, many of which are jointed at 90º angles. For this reason, animal bones are particularly susceptible to getting trapped in your drains.
Think about it: A chicken bone can’t bend to follow a pipe’s curve, so it’ll get stuck in place. It’s also not recommended that you place animal bones in your garbage disposal, as this could quickly clog your unit.
5 Things That Shouldn’t Go Down Your Toilet
#1 – “Flushable” Wipes
Don’t be fooled by false claims of being “flushable” — so-called “flushable wipes” and baby wipes are never ideal for flushing down the toilet. Plumbers and wastewater management officials around the country have begged the public to stop flushing wipes, even if the packaging says it’s okay.
Wet wipes don’t dissolve the way toilet paper does, allowing them to remain trapped in your pipes, where they create severe blockages that lead to pricy plumbing repairs.
#2 – Menstrual Products
Sanitary napkins and tampons should be wrapped separately and discarded into a garbage can rather than flushed down the toilet. Just like fibrous foods swell when they come into contact with water, so too does cotton, which is often the material used to make menstrual products.
Expanding cotton is a surefire way to clog your plumbing system, so it’s best to keep such materials out of your toilet and toss them in the trash instead.
#3 – Baby Diapers
Just like baby wipes, baby diapers should never be flushed down your toilet. The likelihood that you’re able to flush a diaper is slim at best since they’re incredibly absorbent.
If you get a diaper past your toilet without a plunger, it will undoubtedly block your sewer pipes. Always dispose of baby diapers in a garbage can.
#4 – Paper Towels
Some people think toilet paper and paper towels are one and the same, but their home plumbing systems beg to differ: Paper towels have a much thicker ply than toilet paper and are not as dissolvable.
Therefore, flushing paper towels down your toilet as a habit will likely clog your system over time. Recycle paper products like paper towels whenever possible or dispose of them in your garbage can rather than flushing them.
#5 – Dental Floss
Dental floss is stringy, making it easy to tangle around the joints of your pipes. While water might pass easily over a tangled piece of string, pieces of sediment and other debris could find their way down your drains and be easily trapped.
Over time, the items that get stuck in the dental floss can cause a big enough blockage to potentially back up your plumbing or cause a pipe to burst from the pressure. Stick to tossing this stringy substance into the trash.
What To Do When a Drain Gets Clogged – Call a Pro!
Over the course of homeownership, you’ll inevitably experience a drain clog or two that you can’t troubleshoot on your own. When this happens, trust the team at Michael Bonsby to deliver the expert drain clog removal solutions your home deserves.
We offer 24/7 emergency plumbing services throughout the Gaithersburg, MD, region to tend to all your urgent blockages.
Our team is proud to be Gaithersburg’s trusted plumbing technicians for more than 20 years.
Call 301-990-7970 to schedule drain cleaning or drain clog removal today!