Things You Should Never Put Down A Drain 


Sink Drain

While unclogging drains, you learn a lot about what causes the problems. There are a surprising amount of things that you should never put down the drain, even when you have the magic of a garbage disposal.

Garbage disposals are good for breaking scraps up, and you may be under the impression that if it is liquid already, it will drain just fine. You would be wrong. Also, some things that you may think break up into scraps aren’t broken down enough to make it through the drain systems.

You usually get some fair warning that a pipe has a potential clog when it starts to drain slowly. We strongly encourage you to not to let it get to the point where it is completely clogged. Do your best to avoid it altogether by being mindful of what you put down your drain.

Here are a few of the things we have seen, and why they should never be put down the drain:

Household Fluids

Household cleaners, bleach, car fluids, and any toxic cleaning products should NOT be disposed of down the drain. There are city and waste disposal companies that will accept households wastes, and some local auto parts stores will have places for things like motor oil. If you are washing it down the drain, it will end up in the water supply. Consider switching to all-natural cleaners, but even then avoid washing down anything you are unsure of.

Grease, fat, and oils

These food products act as a binder and create thick, sticky gobs that coat pipes until nothing will pass through them. You can tie nearly 47 percent of all sewer overflows back to these usual suspects. Bacon grease, meat fat, and trimmings and oils should all be allowed to cool and then disposed of in your regular trash. Pouring them down the drain while they are hot and liquid just lets them get deeper into the pipes before they cool off enough to start clumping up. And when other things find their way down the drain, like eggshells, bits of bone or coffee grounds, they bind together and cause clogging.


Dry flour does not stay dry once it gets into the drain system. Have you ever mixed water and flour? It can get to the consistency of glue, right? And that is exactly what happens when you put flour into the drain system. Because the powder is able to get everywhere, it can even cause your garbage disposal to bind and get stuck. Rice, pasta and flour should all be disposed of in the trash and not down a drain. Rice and pasta continue to expand while in contact with water and will clog drains.

Potato Peels

The problem with potato peels is in that it only takes a few to clog a drain. Once they are down the drain and past the disposal, they tend to clump together. If you let them sit they turn into basically a paste, which coats the pipes and tends to find all kinds of other things get stuck in it.

Eggshells, Coffee Grounds and Bone

Even when you run these through a garbage disposal, they stay as small bits and get stuck in greases, fats and other oily things. It is the combination of things that turn into pastes and things that won’t ever dissolve in water like egg shell bits, bone and coffee grounds that create clogs. Either keep a composting jar and use these for flower beds and gardens or put them in the trashcan.

Produce Stickers

Harmless, right? Wrong! The adhesives on the back of these little stickers can cause them to stick to the insides of pipes. They also have a bad habit of clogging waste treatment facility filters when they make it down range, so be kind to the water supply and throw them in the trash.

Cotton Balls and Paper Towels

Really, anything designed to be absorbent (including kitty litter) just causes a huge mess when put down the drain. They may be biodegradable, but that doesn’t make them dissolve instantly. If you are in the habit of using paper towels for all your messes, consider getting some cloth ones. And if you do use them, throw them away in the trash and not down a drain.

Condoms and Feminine Hygiene Products

Don’t flush your condoms. Tie them off and throw them away – condoms are rubber and do not dissolve in water. They work great at clogging pipes though. The same thing with tampons- wrap them carefully and place them in a trashcan, do not flush them or put them down a drain.


Little pills, no big deal, right? Medications DO dissolve in water – and that is a large part of the problem. They aren’t removed in many wastewater treatment processes and you would be shocked to realize supply – and back into your drinking water. Pharmaceuticals are in the water supply and even over the counter medications like ibuprofen and birth control are being found in streams and lakes.


Water- and oil-based paints should not be put down the drain. Paint management and disposal means letting the paint dry if it is latex, and disposing of water-based paints at a disposal facility. Limit any cleaning to brushes only. These introduce a number of toxins and chemicals from the paint into the water table, so don’t contribute to poisoning the environment and dispose of paint properly.

Contact Total Plumbing today if you’ve accidentally disposed of any of these items and needs repair services!

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