Keeping your drains clean and clear may seem like an easy, common sense task to most homeowners. However, there are a lot of everyday items that people may never guess to be hazardous to flush. Here are 12 common household items you should absolutely avoid putting down your drains.
1. Flushable Wipes
At no point, no matter what the packaging states, should flushable wipes be flushed. These wipes are made of materials that don’t disintegrate rapidly enough to be put through the sewer system. They may dissolve more quickly than non-flushable wipes, but that isn’t enough to move them through the sewer system without risk. Flushable wipes also tend to clump together with food, grease, and other matter in the pipes, creating a messy situation. Just toss them in the trash and save yourself the trouble.
2. Hot Grease
We should all know this by now but believe it or not, people are still pouring hot grease and oils down the drain. Many seem to think that running hot water down the drain at the same time will make it okay. This simply isn’t true. As a matter of fact, grease and oil tend to be the top cause of clogged pipes in the kitchen. As the grease cools, it hardens into a solid and can collect in the drain or pipes. Along with other materials going down the drain, it builds up and eventually creates a clog. Rather than dumping your hot grease or oil down the drain, pour it into a jar or other container, let it harden, and then toss it into the trash.
3. Coffee Grounds
Surely something as small as coffee grounds seems harmless to put down the drain, right? Wrong! In fact, plumbers note that coffee grounds are one of the most common items they find gumming up pipes when they’re called in to deal with a clog. Coffee grounds actually clump together when flushed down the sink rather than separating. Toss the used coffee grounds in the trash or, better yet, spread them over your garden as a fertilizer.
4. Paper Towels
You may think paper towels are similar enough to toilet paper that they can be flushed down the toilet. However, paper towels are made of a thick, fibrous material not suited for the sewer system. They don’t disintegrate quickly enough, or sometimes at all, to make it through the system without risk of clogging. As with flushable wipes, they’ll clump together and gather with other materials in the drain, forming a bulky blob in your pipes. Toss paper towels into the trash.
Dumping medications down the drain isn’t likely to cause a clog, so it may seem harmless. The fact is that the chemicals and components of those medications enter the water supply when flushed, creating a potential health hazard for everyone. You can toss your expired or unused medication in the trash. You may also be able to find a drug take-back program in your community, at the pharmacy, or even through the manufacturer. Disposing of medication properly makes the water supply much safer for all.
6. Feminine Products
We’ve all seen the signs in public restrooms asking for feminine products to be thrown in the trash and not flushed down the toilet. It seems like a no-brainer, but plumbers will tell you otherwise. Tampons and sanitary napkins are often flushed with the mistaken thought that the toilet is the proper place for disposal. These items expand when wet and create a huge potential for toilet clogs and sewer backups. Wrap them up and throw them in the trash instead.
Never wash food down the sink without a garbage disposal. Tiny particles may seem small enough to move easily through your water system, but some can get caught easily. Fatty, greasy foods are especially hazardous, as the grease will harden in the drain. When food gets trapped in your drain, it collects more food and debris until it gets large enough to restrict water flow, creating first a slow drain and then a clogged sink. In addition, food sitting in the pipe under your sink will create a foul odor, stinking up your kitchen. Toss food in the trash or compost it to save your plumbing.
Used condoms get flushed all the time without a second thought. They’re small and seemingly harmless. Condoms are rubber, which doesn’t dissolve in water and isn’t biodegradable. If they don’t end up clogging your pipes, which some will, they’ll wind up floating around in the water supply system. No one wants to think of condoms in the water they use at home. Just toss them and be done.
Yes, even drain-cleaning chemicals shouldn’t be poured down a drain. These products are harsh and can lead to the erosion of your pipes, creating a leak in the future. They also go down the drain, through the sewer, and into the water supply. Chemicals in the water supply can be harmful to consumers and make the water treatment process more costly. If you have a drain issue, just call a plumber. For household chemicals, dispose of them properly.
10. Flushable Kitty Litter
Just because something says it’s flushable, doesn’t mean it’s true. Flushable kitty litter is a perfect example. Even though it’s made not to clump, it can still clog your pipes and wreak havoc on your septic system. Additionally, cat feces is known to have bacteria that are resistant to chemical treatment, meaning that it can’t always be cleaned through the water treatment process. Even if it claims to be a flushable formula, don’t ever pour kitty litter into the toilet.
Imagine the beautiful colors and graffiti-like designs as paint flows through your drainage system and creates artwork inside your pipes. Now remember that no one can actually see this! The issue with flushing paint down the drain isn’t so much with the integrity of your pipes and plumbing but more with toxins entering the local water supply.
Think about what happens when you pour water into a bowl of flour. The mixture thickens and becomes sticky. Now think about that mixture if you leave it sit awhile. The mixture becomes hard and crusty. Take that same concept and you’ll see exactly what happens when you dump flour down the sink. Instead of risking backed-up pipes, toss leftover flour into the trash.
Flush Smarter and Save Your Pipes
Now that you know what not to flush down the toilet or wash down the sink, taking care of your plumbing system should be a lot easier. You can avoid clogs and other sewer issues by being mindful of what goes down the drain. When in doubt, throw it out! If something does wind up clogging your drains, be sure to call Healthy Home Heating & Air in Charlotte, NC for professional and reliable service. We offer drain cleaning solutions!
Our team can also help out with heating and air conditioning repair, installation, and maintenance, indoor air quality services, pipe repair and replacement, leak detection, and more. Ask us about our healthy home plan!