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Don’t Pour It Down the Sink – Do This Instead

How to Avoid Ruining Your Sink’s Plumbing

Even if you know of some items that shouldn’t go down the drain, it’s essential to understand that there are several things that can cause major problems for both you and the Memphis sewer and drainage system.

Keep in mind the things that are OK to drain, such as:

  • Coffee (no grounds)
  • Milk
  • Tea
  • Juice
  • Soda (any drinkable liquid)

For other items, we’ve gathered a list of the common things people tend to dispose of improperly, why you shouldn’t, and how to dispose of everything properly. In some cases, there are useful recycling opportunities!

Items That You Should Leave Out of the Drain

Dispose of Kitchen Grease Properly

There are two types of grease that you’ll often find in the kitchen (yellow and brown), neither of which should go down the drain.

Yellow grease is used cooking oil from range hood filters, grills, and fryers. This type of grease has not encountered water and can be recycled. Save yellow grease, like when you make bacon, in a refrigerated container for:

  • Cooking eggs
  • Greasing sheet pans for baking
  • Greasing grill grates for grilling
  • A replacement butter for grilled cheese sandwiches

Brown grease consists of fats, oils, and greases (FOG) created from food preparation and dishwashing. You can dispose of this grease by collecting it in a container or makeshift tin foil bowl, letting it cool and coagulate, and then tossing the container into the trash.

A couple more ways to repurpose grease are to add small amounts to the compost bin or season your cast iron cookware.

How to Reuse Coffee Grounds

Don’t let your used grounds go down the sink with that leftover coffee. Over time, those grounds will build up and ruin your plumbing. Instead, compost them! Or if compost isn’t your style, you can use coffee grounds for:

  • Fertilizer on top of soil or mixed right into the soil
  • A homemade body or face scrub
  • A hair product to scrub your scalp with before shampooing
  • Sprinkling around the garden for pest prevention
  • A refrigerator or freezer deodorizing

Rice or Pasta Should Not Go Down the Drain

Both foods expand in water, which means it only makes sense not to put them into your drain where faucet water goes. Plus, they can clump together in your pipes and create difficult blockages. Toss rice and pasta that’s not going to be eaten into the trash instead.

What Cleaning Products Should Go Down the Drain?

Chemical products (bleach, ammonia, chlorine, etc.) should never go into the drain to avoid water pollution. Some chemicals interact with and react from exposure to another chemical, potentially creating something hazardous. An example would be ammonia and bleach, which will form a toxic gas.

The Shelby County Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) Facility is open for free to Shelby residents twice a week for proper waste drop-off. They reinforce the importance of the correct disposal methods to avoid both causing injuries to sanitation workers and contaminating septic tanks or wastewater treatment systems.

If you want to clean and deodorize your drain, instead of reaching for the chemical cleaners, pour a half cup of baking soda into the drain and then two quarts of hot water.

Honey, Leave Me Out of the Drain

Even though honey might seem like it’s liquid enough to go down a drain, it can clog the pipes with time. Plus, honey can crystalize, creating a blockage that’s more solid and tricky to remove.

The same goes for melted caramel or other sticky ingredients that can turn into a solid. Not only will the sticky pieces create clogs within the pipes, but they also serve as a trap for other debris coming into the drain. You can safely get rid of these items by letting them cool into a jar or container before placing them in the trash.

Don’t Flush or Crush Medications

Whether they expired or you’re helping a loved one clean out their medicine cabinet, don’t take any medications and flush them or crush them to wash down the drain. It might seem like a simple way to toss them and forget about them, but they’ll leak back into your drinking water or out to the environment and can cause harm. Everything you pour down the drain eventually gets into the food and water that you consume (as well as plants and animals). Local pharmacies in Memphis as well as the police department will have medical waste disposal units for you to use to safely discard everything.