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What Can and Can’t Go Down Your Drains

What Can and Can’t Go Down Your Drains

There’s no problem more sticky and annoying, in the bathroom or the kitchen than a clogged drain. There are many ways to remedy the situation, but it is much easier to stick to preventing it in the first place. In order to do so, it’s important to know what exactly you can and cannot put down the drains and the garbage disposals. Here’s a helpful list to help you keep track.

What Can Go Down the Bathroom Drain?


While there really isn’t much of a difference between the inner workings of bathroom pipes and kitchen pipes, it’s helpful to think of what can go down each drain based on what is usually in the room. The bathroom drains are pretty simple to keep track of – most of what is in the bathroom are drain-friendly, such as shampoo and soap.

On occasion, soap can build up in a drain – particularly bar soap – and this can be solved by simply pouring boiling water down it.

What to Avoid in the Bathroom
These will all seem like fairly obvious things to avoid putting down the drain (as most of them will not even fit), but as an added bonus, this is actually a list of what to avoid flushing.

  • Cosmetics
  • Laundry Detergent, Fabric Softener, and Dryer Sheets
  • Cotton Balls and Q-Tips
  • Cat Litter
  • Paper Towels
  • Feminine Products
  • Hair
  • Diapers
  • Bandages
  • Cigarettes
  • Food


Next, you have the kitchen. This is a little bit more complicated, as there is more of a variety of food products and waste that could cause potential damage to your drain. Yours may even have a garbage disposal, but that doesn’t mean you can throw anything down there!

What Can Go Down the Kitchen Drain
If you have a kitchen sink with no garbage disposal, it’s pretty simple: avoid putting anything down there that you wouldn’t drink (with obvious exceptions; for example, spoiled milk won’t hurt your drain). The extra steps you take to ensure only drainable items are thrown down there, the longer your drain will go without giving you any problems. Stick to beverages, water, and dish soap.

What Cannot Go Down the Kitchen Drain
Never put these items down a drain without a garbage disposal:

Grease, fat, and oils
You can wait for these substances to cool slightly, and then simply put them into a disposable container. Many folks actually choose to save certain types of fat or grease, such as from bacon and use them as a cooking oil or for making gravy.

Food
Unless that food is a liquid soup broth, it is not something you want going down your drain – and eventually clogging it.

Other Solids
You name it: hair, pieces of plastic or paper, coffee grounds; any solid item can be a danger to the life of your kitchen or bathroom drain.

What to Avoid Putting in the Garbage Disposal

Garbage disposals simply grind or “chew” up the food that is put down them, in order to allow them to go down the drain – this is why they function when the water is turned on. When you think of what can and cannot be put into a garbage disposal, consider what you yourself would be unable to chew:

Eggshells
Eggshells are difficult to ground into fine enough pieces to be able to mix with water and go down the drain. They also contain a very thin membrane (you may notice this once in a while when cracking an egg) that is actually very strong and can wrap itself around the blades of the disposal.

Fibrous or Stringy Foods
This can mean peels of apples, potatoes, and other vegetables, or any type of vegetable that is full of fiber. It is unwise to put these types of food down the garbage disposal, as they are difficult to turn into a drainable pulp. Thinking about what would be difficult to chew is a good rule of thumb in this case.

Coffee Grounds
Coffee grounds are not easy for a garbage disposal to get rid of, and can easily get stuck in there. Luckily, everything mentioned so far is easily compostable!

Pasta
This one may seem a bit odd, but the fact that pasta expands when it comes in contact with water makes it a danger to garbage disposals.

Any Non-Food Item
For any item that just isn’t food, it’s easier and safer to throw it in the trash, compost it (in the case of grass clippings, for example), or recycle it. Never put cigarette butts, wrappers, or any type of paper or plastic down a garbage disposal, as it will likely malfunction.

Along with avoiding any dangerous items in drains, it is also helpful to put baking soda down there every so often, as it has cleaning and deodorizing properties. If any drain in your home is working slowly, leaking, humming, or really, anything out of the ordinary, it may be time to look it over and nip the problem in the bud.

D-N-A Plumbing Services can help you diagnose and fix your drain problem, so you can get your bathroom and kitchen back to normal.

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