14 Things that Shouldn’t be Dumped Down the Drain

Things You Should Not Dump Down the Drain, drain cleaner
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Are you mindful of what you throw down your drain? We ask this question because some people assume that certain items or liquids are appropriate to dispose of in the sink when in fact, the proper way to get rid of them are in the garbage can or other more appropriate methods.

To keep you from making any of these mistakes (for the sake of helping the environment and to prevent clogging issues in your home), here are some things you should not dump down the drain. And guess what? Some of these may surprise you.

First, make sure your drain is clean and it’s free of any clogs. If not, then check out this DIY drain cleaner you make at home that will do the trick!

14 Things You Should Not Dump Down the Drain

14 Things that Shouldn’t be Dumped Down the Drain

1. Oil

This is a big “no-no” for every person who cooks with oil, which we assume is most of us. The fact that its liquid does not mean the proper way to dispose of it is down the drain. Oil sticks to the inside of pipes and when it hardens, it causes a blockage. In addition to that, it could form into a fatberg in the sewage, and that poses serious risks of flooding.

Disposal: Pour the oil into a small-sealed container and throw it in the trash. If you have large amounts of oil to dispose of, consider going to an oil recycling station or directly to your landfill.

2. Coffee Grounds

When you finish brewing your pot of coffee, you might be tempted to rinse away these grainy grounds in the sink but don’t do it. Even if they’re small, they’re one of the main culprits for drain blockage next to oil. Ask a plumber, and they’ll tell you.

Disposal: Use a sieve when you’re rinsing out coffee mugs and containers. Then dump the grounds in the trash or add them to your compost bin if you have one. You can also check out this article of amazing uses for your coffee grounds instead of throwing them away.

3. Medicine

14 Things that Shouldn’t be Dumped Down the Drain

Even if you crush up unused and expired medicine, you shouldn’t flush it down the drain. The chemicals in them could leak back into drinking water and mix with the environment.

Disposal: Bring it to your local pharmacy where they have the proper medical waste disposal unit.

4. Flushable Wipes

The word “flushable” may trick you that it’s appropriate to dispose of down the drain but don’t be fooled. Flushable wipes don’t break down properly, and they can get caught in other things that can create clogs in pipes. After all, they’re still considered solid waste.

Disposal: You guessed it, the trash can! This applies to all kinds of wipes, flushable or not.

5. Stickers from Fruits and Jars

The same argument could be made that they’re small and they won’t do any harm in the drain. Wrong! The problem with stickers is that they have glue on them and they could easily stick inside the pipes. The stickers themselves are also made out of material that takes a long time to decompose.

Disposal: Peel the sticker off your fruits and jars and throw it where it needs to go, the trash.

6. Cigarette butts

The butt of the cigarette filter is synthetic, so the problem is that when it absorbs water, it expands. Also, cigarette butts never dissolve, and they contain harmful chemicals like nicotine, which can contaminate the water supply.

Disposal: Use an ashtray filled with sand to collect the ashes. Then, soak the cigarette butts in water to prevent a potential fire before throwing them away in the trash.

7. Eggshells

14 Things that Shouldn’t be Dumped Down the Drain

Breaking eggshells down into smaller pieces won’t mean they’ll go right through the drain. These small pieces can get stuck to one another and could cause a problematic clog in the drain. They don’t necessarily break down either.

Disposal: Throw your eggshells in a compost bin if you have one. Otherwise, peel hard-boiled eggs directly over a trash bin.

8. Flour

Flour thickens when mixed with water. So, if you dump the flour in your sink, just imagine the mixture that it would create in your drain. Combine that with other things, and it may cause a huge clog.

Disposal: Always throw flour, whether mixed with water or not, in the compost. Just don’t dump it all at once as it will cut down the necessary airflow. Instead, fork it through the other material.

9. Cleaning Products

The excuse that cleaning products are liquid won’t do. They contain harmful chemicals like phosphates, antibacterial agents, and other compounds that aren’t removed at the water treatment plant and can be hazardous to the ecosystem. So, if you care about your health and you love the planet, do not dump cleaning products down the drain. Better yet, switch to these natural alternatives and away from cancer-causing cleaning products.

Disposal: Follow the label directions regarding disposal if they’re provided. If not, call the manufacturer’s toll-free number for disposal recommendation. Put the empty containers in the recycling bin if appropriate.

10. Stringy Food Scraps

stringy food scraps

Even if you have a waste disposal unit, if you can’t chew it, then don’t throw it in the sink. Food scraps, in general, can be disposed of in more sensible ways and are not meant to be dumped in the sink. They’re solid waste that can get stuck in the pipe and cause a serious clog.

Disposal: Put stringy vegetables like celery or asparagus in the compost. Other food items like fruits, vegetables, dairy products, grains, and bread are also compostable.

11. Pasta/Rice

These are two food items that expand over time when combined with water. If they were to get dumped in the drain, they could cause clogging problems when they enlarge. Even if you have a waste disposal unit, these food items can create a thick paste that can only cause more problems.

Disposal: Check with your area the correct way to dispose of these food items. Some places consider them compostable, and some do not.

12. Paper Products

The only paper that can be disposed of down a drain is toilet paper. Any other paper products like paper towels, cotton balls, and feminine hygiene products should be thrown in the trash. One could argue that some of these items are biodegradable, but they still absorb moisture and could cause problems in the drainage pipes.

Disposal: To reiterate, most paper products except toilet paper must be thrown in the trash or a recycling bin. For sustainability purposes, try using washable cotton cloths in your home. As for feminine hygiene products, check out these safe-alternatives to chemically-filled tampons

13. Paint


Dumping paint down the drain just because it’s a liquid product is not the proper way to dispose of it. Paints contain harmful ingredients that are hazardous to the environment. Also, the consistency is thick enough to potentially clog your drain.

Disposal: Most places now have hazardous waste facilities for disposing of certain products like paint. Also, try using eco-friendly paints, which are now widely available.

14. Seeds and Grains

Though they’re small, seeds are solid waste, and they can certainly cause clogging issues even through a waste disposal unit. The same goes for any fruit or vegetable pulp.

Disposal: If you’re cutting up fruits and vegetables, collect the seeds using a piece of kitchen towel before dumping them in the trash or the compost bin.


Let us know if this article enlightened on specific items you initially thought were appropriate to dump down the drain but actually aren’t. Don’t forget to check out this video at the top of this article on how you can make your own natural drain cleaner. Just as important as proper item disposal is making sure you clean your drain on a regular basis. 

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