5 things to avoid putting down your drain

A woman struggling to unplug sink. Rapid Drainage, London drainage services

You have just had a lovely meal and have just tossed leftover frying oil down the kitchen sink. Or you might have repainted your living room and rinsed your paintbrushes into the utility room’s sink. Or you just baked the loveliest loaf of bread and dumped the leftover flour in your sink to be able to clean your counter.

These situations might sound familiar to you. We have all done at least one of those at some point. But did you know that these seemingly inoffensive habits can end up costing you lot?

Indeed, not being careful about what goes down your drain may eventually lead to blockages and overall damage to your drainage system.

You may not be able to access the majority of your home’s plumbing system, but you can easily preserve it from clogs and corrosion by being cautious about what you flush down the toilet or pour down the sink. Responding promptly if you suspect a problem is developing will also prevent damage. In this article, we will inform you of the things you should absolutely avoid putting down your sink to maintain a happy and healthy plumbing system.

1- Coffee grounds and tea leaves

According to some old wives tales, coffee grounds are supposed to be beneficial for pipes. The idea is that, because of its abrasive nature, it cleans the sides of the pipes and scrapes dirt and grime off. Unfortunately, this is not a true. Coffee grounds tend to accumulate in pipes and U-bends, especially if they come into contact with grease residues and other products such as vegetable peelings.

The same is true for tea leaves. You might think that they’ll simply glide down the drain but unfortunately, they will get caught up in grease and other scraps resulting in a blockage.

To avoid all these problems we would advise you put coffee grounds and tea leaves in the compost. This is the best alternative as it avoids more waste in landfills and will create good quality fertiliser. If you are a gardener or a plant fanatic, you could use coffee ground directly as fertiliser.

2-Toiletries and personal hygiene products

Because feminine products do not dissolve in water, they have the potential to get stuck very easily. In addition, even if they pass through your home’s plumbing without incident, they might cause difficulties when they enter septic systems and wastewater treatment facilities. Female hygiene products should be neatly packed and disposed of in a rubbish bin. Honestly, it’s simply not worth the risk — or the potentially astronomical plumbing cost.

Items such as cotton balls and wet wipes have been shown to be a major source of concern for fatbergs in the United Kingdom. Even wipes that are labelled as “flushable” might increase the risk of drain blockages because they promote the false belief that they are safe to flush down the toilet. In truth, these so-called ‘flushable’ wipes will frequently contain plastic, which means that they will not biodegrade as quickly as they claim to be able to. In 2017, an assessment of sewage obstructions in the United Kingdom discovered that wet wipes accounted for 93 percent of the material responsible for the blockages.

Always dispose of used toiletries in the rubbish bin or attempt to locate a more environmentally friendly option to replace them with.

3- Fat, oil and grease

Fat, oil and grease (often shortened to FOG) are a plumber’s worst nightmare as they are a very common reason for blockages and their impact is underestimated by people. Not only does FOG adhere to the inside of pipes, but it also solidifies when exposed to cold temperatures, resulting in blockages and the formation of fatbergs. Despite widespread awareness of the dangers of fatbergs, a lot of people will still admit to still pouring FOG down the drain. The worst part is that the congealed goo created by FOG will catch any kind of debris or waste ( such as coffee grounds or egg shells) and create event bigger blockage.

Maintain proper FOG disposal to avoid costly blocked drains and to save your money from pricey drain repairs.

4- “Flushable” Pet litter

Some pet litter brands advertise their litter as flushable but do not be fooled, flushable doesn’t always mean it is safe to flush the product down your toilet.

Yes, the term “flushable” does appears in the name of the product, but unfortunately, it is a quite a misleading claim. Some pet litter brands advertise their litter as flushable but it often is not safe to dispose of down a toilet and it can cause a toilet blockage. As well as major problems for septic systems. 

And if a broken toilet is not enough to persuade you not to flush pet litter, it has been shown that cat litter might harbour bacteria from your cat’s faeces and spread them to other cats. Indeed, this bacteria has developed a resistance to the chemicals commonly used to disinfect water,  and  has the potential to make its way into the water supply, where it can pose a threat to a variety of wildlife, particularly sea otter populations.

5- Stickers

The stickers that you find on fruits can actually cause serious problems inside your pipes if left unchecked. It also applies to stickers present on new tableware and any object you are trying to clean. Despite the fact that they appear to be harmless, even the smallest amount of adhesive on them can be sufficient to cause them to become stuck to the insides of the pipes. Those that manage to make it past your pipes and into wastewater treatment pipes and filters might cause problems with the equipment that is supposed to treat your water. If they manage to get past both of these barriers, they have a good chance of ending up in the water supply. That is a recipe for disaster, no matter how you look at it. So keep your eye on these little devils.

6- Pasta, rice and vegetable scraps

Foods that expand when cooked, such as pasta, polenta and rice, can be extremely detrimental to your drainage system. Rice can easily be washed down the drain and then expand once it has absorbed water. Additionally, pasta is frequently coated in a sticky semolina flour, which, like FOG, can enable food leftovers to adhere to the interior of pipes, causing clogs to form. And if you are very unlucky, food scraps will get attached to fat and create even bigger blockage.

To avoid this, purchase a sink strainer, which effectively captures food waste before it can go down the drain

7- Medication

The flushing of any medication down the toilet is extremely harmful and should never be done. This is due to the fact that wastewater treatment plants are unable to remove drugs from water, resulting in them infiltrating the plants and even returning to our drinking water. This has the potential to cause a range of problems, including antibiotic resistance, among others.

If you have any unused or expired prescriptions, the only safe way to dispose of them is to take them to your local pharmacist, who will be able to dispose of them at a medical waste disposal facility.

8- Flour 

If you have ever baked or made bread before, you will know that when mixed with water, flour will create a rather sticky goo. While it is not a problem while making a delicious dinner, it can be a problem in other circumstances. Indeed, when letting flour go down your drain, the thick and sticky mixture will cover the insides of your pipes and create a blockage. For this reason, instead of dumping any surplus flour in the sink, it is always preferable to throw it away in the compost.

9- Egg shells

Similarly to coffee grounds, egg shells are often believed to be harmless to drainage systems. But by leaving egg shells to go down the drain, you risk them getting caught in FOG and creating a blockage.

Not only do egg shell fragments contribute to and advance other clogs, but they can also be extremely destructive to your sink’s plumbing. This is especially true if you have a garbage disposal in your home. The hard outer shell of the egg can cause the blades to become weak, and the membrane of the egg can separate and wrap itself around the grinding apparatus.

10- Paint

It is extremely dangerous to flush paint down the toilet or down your sink. As a matter of fact, most municipalities have rules and regulations governing the disposal of paints, both water-based and oil-based.

The problem isn’t so much with the state of your pipes as it is with the way they are being used. It is the large amount of poisons and chemicals from the paint that can end up in the water system that is the major concern.