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12 Things You Shouldn’t Pour Down the Drain

It might be convenient to just rinse with water and flush it down the drain. But trust us, it’s worth it to throw it in the trash instead.

Stainless Steel Sink drain Rawf8/Getty Images

Stay away from the drain

Since you do so much cleaning in your sink, it can be easy to let things fall down the drain. But doing so could cause your drain to clog and even cause long-term damage. While a drain cleaner tool might be a quick fix, bigger issues will require a plumber and some money. Save yourself the hassle and avoid pouring these things down the drain. After doing the dishes, don’t forget about the sink. Here’s how to clean a stainless steel sink.

Egg ShellsJennifer A Smith/Getty Images

Eggshells

You might think that a crushed up eggshell will go down the drain smoothly, but it actually is causing a blockage. The sharp, hard edges of the shell will collect other things coming down your drain and eventually cause a clog.

RELATED: 31 Secrets Your Plumber Won’t Tell You

greaseolavs/Shutterstock

Grease

When you pour grease down the drain, it sticks to the inside of your pipes and the pipes in the street. This can cause the entire pipe to become clogged over time. Other oil-based products are also dangerous to pour down your drain, such as cooking oil, salad dressings, butter, mayonnaise, and fat. If needed, make sure to let the grease cool first, then dispose of it in the trash instead.

flourMaraZe/Shutterstock

Flour

Flour coagulates when mixed with water. This can clog your pipes by coating the edges and catching other bits of disposables trying to make their way down. Always throw your flour, whether mixed with water or not, in the garbage.

RELATED: 9 Things You Should Never Put in the Dishwasher

medicationMangpor nk/Shutterstock

Medication

If you flush your unused or expired medication or crush it up and pour it down the drain, those chemicals will be leaked back into your drinking water and the environment. Always make sure to dispose of unwanted medication at your local pharmacy or police department, which will have access to medical waste disposal units.

stickers on applesView Pictures/Getty Images

Produce stickers

Many times people wash their fruit and forget to take the sticker off; it falls in the sink and you eventually just let it go down the drain. Peel them off before you wash your fruit and dispose of it properly. Those little stickers don’t dissolve in water and can clog your pipes and block screens and filters or pumps at the water treatment plant.

coffeegroundsNor Gal/Shutterstock

Coffee grounds

Coffee grounds build up in your pipes and cause blockages. Plumbers say they are the most common cause of drain problems. You should always dispose of coffee grounds in your trashcan or use them for composting (don’t forget the coffee grounds at the bottom of your mug).

A concept of using baby wipesKarl Tapales/Getty Images

Products claiming to be ‘flushable’

Products claiming to be “flushable” such as certain brands of cat litter and wipes still create a high risk of clogged drains. Cat litter is still highly absorbent after you flush it and toxins from cat feces may get leaked into the ocean and harm marine life. Flushable wipes also don’t break down properly and often get caught on other things creating large clots in pipes.

RELATED: 13 Things You Should Never Flush Down Your Toilet

condomsLemon Tree Images/Shutterstock

Condoms

Condoms are made of latex, which doesn’t disintegrate in water, so never, ever flush them. Throw them in the trash or dispose of them at a waste treatment center. If you flush them, they may end up in the ocean and marine life often mistakes them for food and chokes.

Cleaning productsgrinvalds/Getty Images

Cleaning products

Even though most cleaning products are liquid, they should never be poured down the drain because they contain harmful chemicals. Many contain phosphates, antibacterial agents, and other compounds that aren’t removed at the water treatment plant and can be hazardous to the ecosystem.

RELATED: 15 Things You Should Never Put Down a Garbage Disposal

Roll of paper towels on a wooden table against a background of wooden walls.Galina Vetertsovskaya/Getty Images

Paper products

The only paper product that should go down your drain is toilet paper. It has been specially designed to break down and disintegrate in water. Always dispose of other paper products such as paper towels, cotton balls, and feminine hygiene products in the trash. These items are extremely absorbent and will easily clog your pipes.

pastakshphotography/Shutterstock

Expandable food

It’s OK to let some food run down the drain, but a lot of it expands when mixed with water and can lead to a block. Pasta and rice are two foods to watch out for. Also, pastas are made with flour, which will become sticky and catch other things in your pipes.

painthookmedia/Shutterstock

Paint

Similar to cleaning products, paint should never be poured down the drain even though it’s a liquid. It has the potential to pollute the environment and cause your drain to clog. Many towns have hazardous waste facilities where you can safely dispose of your old or unused paint. Next, read about the foods you should never keep in your pantry.

Morgan Cutolo
Morgan is an Associate Editor at Reader’s Digest. She graduated from the University of New Hampshire in 2016 where she received her Bachelor of Arts in Journalism. She writes for rd.com, helps lead the editorial relationship with our partners, manages our year-round interns, and keeps the hundreds of pieces of content our team produces every month organized. In her free time, she likes exploring the seacoast of Maine where she lives and works remotely full time and snuggling up on the couch with her corgi, Eggo, to watch HGTV or The Office.

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