Rinsing Away Bad Habits: What Should Never Go Down Your Drain?

What you’re putting down the drain may be bad for your pipes, septic system and for the most part the entire water supply. Certain everyday household items should never be disposed of in a sink or toilet—despite many of these items often being falsely considered to be safe. If you’re not careful about what you put down the drain, clogs can occur quickly – and the costs can really add up. On average, calling in someone to clear or “snake” your pipes costs hundreds of dollars – and what’s more, the average cost of having your sewer main unclogged is $550.

Avoid costly repairs, service issues and environmental damage by following a few simple tips on what not to pour, rinse or flush down the drain. 

In the bathroom… 

  • “Flushable” Wipes: The most misleading product on this list and ARE NOT REALLY FLUSHABLE. Whether the package says “non-flushable,” “flushable” or “septic safe,” it doesn’t matter. Do not flush. Wipes do not biodegrade quickly, are prone to getting stuck in drains and can potentially lead to a massive and expensive clog.
  • Dental Floss: Floss, while seemingly innocent, can be an agent of destruction when it comes to pipes. The commonly nylon or Teflon string can accumulate overtime, wrapping around any larger items flushed after it. The clumps can become large and result in clogs in sewers and pumps.
  • Cotton Balls, Cotton Rounds, Q-Tips: These products don’t breakdown in water in the way toilet paper does and can cause clumps and clogs.
  • Contact Lenses & Medication: Whether your prescription is a pill or lenses, don’t dispose of it in the drain. Neither will breakdown properly in water and they can have toxic effects on the environment.
  • Hair: While it may be impossible to completely prevent hair from going down the shower drain, it is important to take precaution with drain covers. Hair tends to stick to the sides of pipes, creating an ideal situation for build-ups and clogs. 

In the kitchen…

  • Fats, Oils and Grease (FOG): Although often liquid in form, these FOGs won’t travel far in your pipes before they begin to form large conglomerates, attaching themselves to the pipe’s interior lining and backing up other items that attempt to pass.
  • Coffee Grounds: When mixed with water, coffee grounds clump together in your drains. The blockage can then build up over time.
  • Eggshells: They may not seem like a threat, but even after going through a garbage disposal, egg shells contribute to build up in your pipes.
  • Uncooked Rice: When rice grains get wet, rice grains swell in size and clump together. While the amount may seem small, once it goes down the drain, that rice will expand and increase risk of clogs.
  • Flour: When flour gets wet, it gets thick and slightly sticky – and when put down the drain, it sticks to the lining and causes blockages.

Keeping these items out of the drain is an important step toward maintaining healthy pipes. Make the above your checklist when thinking about what items can be flushed or poured down the drain.