Whether you're cooking in a hurry or simply trying to get rid of items you no longer have a use for, it can be tempting to treat your sink's drain like a garbage hole.
But some things you put down your drain can potentially negatively impact yourself, the environment, and your home.
Here are a few things that you should avoid dumping down your drain:
Rice can absorb water and clog pipes
Uncooked rice shouldn't go down your kitchen drain. As anyone who's ever cooked rice knows, rice grains can swell up and clump together when wet and these clumps can block your pipes.
Eggshells can stick to your pipes
They might seem too delicate to cause any trouble but eggshells can wreak havoc on your pipes and septic tank if you have one. When wet, the shells can become sticky and coat your pipes or garbage-disposal blades. If this coating hardens, it can be hard to remove.
Compost eggshells on or throw them in the trash instead.
Read More: 6 useful things you can do with fruit peels instead of throwing them out
Coffee grounds can damage your pipes and septic system
Although some garbage disposals can handle used coffee grounds, putting them down the drain can clog your pipes and may eventually cause issues for your septic system, if you're on one.
Instead, compost coffee grounds or use them in your next DIY project.
Pouring used motor oil down the drain can be bad for the environment
Disposing of used motor oil in your kitchen sink can pollute the environment and in some places, it's also illegal to do so.
According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, used oil that hasn't been disposed of properly can contaminate the equivalent of one year's water supply for 50 people.
Instead of dumping used oil in your sink, contact your local recycling or waste center to find out if they have an oil bank where you can safely (and legally) dispose of it.
Pasta can swell up and coat the blades of your garbage disposal or clog your pipes
According to Hunker, starchy foods like pasta can get tangled in your garbage disposal's blades and it can also swell up and clog your pipes.
Pouring boiling water down your drain may help to dislodge a pasta blockage. You can also try pouring a mixture of vinegar and baking soda down the drain to try to dissolve the pasta.
Cooking fat, like bacon grease, should be kept out of the sink
The fat left in the pan after frying up a few strips of bacon solidifies at room temperature. So when you pour this grease down your drain, it will likely cool and harden inside your pipes, per The Spruce Eats.
This can not only cause drain blockages, but also the fat may start to smell as it turns rancid. Instead, pour the hot grease into a disposable container or wipe it up with a paper towel.
You can also save the oil and use it to cook with — bacon grease can be stored in the freezer for about a month and it can be used to add flavor to dishes like sautéed green beans or potatoes.
Cooking oil should not go down the drain
Even oils like olive oil that don't typically solidify at room temperature should be kept out of the sink. Oils can cling to your drain pipes and cause blockages over time.
The best option for disposing of used cooking oil is to collect it in a disposable container or wipe it up with a paper towel.
Unfinished or expired medications should never be poured down the drain
In some cases, the chemicals in pharmaceuticals can actually enter the environment and cause damage to aquatic environments and marine life.
And, in many places, public wastewater treatment systems aren't equipped to filter medications so the chemicals in these drugs may also wind up in drinking water.
Per the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, if you're disposing of a solid medication like pills, start by making the drugs unusable or unpalatable by mixing them with vinegar, salt, or powdered spices.
Place pills in their original container after you remove any personal information from the bottle. Seal it with duct tape and then conceal the bottle by placing it inside of another waste item like a paper bag or an empty, opaque food container.
Many areas also offer free drop-off sites where you can turn in your unwanted medication to be professionally disposed of.
Leftover paint should be left to dry, not poured down the drain
Whether you've just put the finishing touches on an art project or finally finished painting your bedroom, disposing of your leftover paint safely is important.
You'll want to avoid pouring extra paint down the drain since it contains chemicals that can contaminate water and soil and it can also clog your pipes when it dries.
Per Good Housekeeping, you'll instead want to allow small amounts of leftover paint to dry and harden before throwing it in the trash. You can also donate larger amounts of spare paint to local building companies, schools, or organizations like Habitat for Humanity.
Flour can turn into a gluey paste if it gets down the drain
If you've ever had wet flour dry on your countertops, you know how tough it can be to remove.
So it's no surprise that running floury water down the drain or stuffing extra dough into your garbage disposal can lead to the formation of a glue-like paste that can harden inside your pipes, causing them to clog.
You may want to avoid pouring bleach down the drain for safety reasons
Bleach is a common household cleaning product that might not actually do any damage to your septic system or the environment if it makes its way down the drain.
However, pouring bleach down pipes that have been recently exposed to cleaning products that contain ammonia can cause dangerous chloramine gas to form. The fumes from this gas can cause irritation and, in some cases, more serious health issues.
Ammonia can commonly be found in products like window cleaners, dishwasher detergents, and drain cleaners, so be careful not to pour bleach down a drain that may have recently come into contact with another cleaning chemical.
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