safe and unsafe foods for kitchen drain

Here’s What You Can (And Can’t) Put Down Your Kitchen Drain!

Most people don’t give their kitchen drain a second thought. They just throw in their food waste, turn on the garbage disposal, and forget it. But you’d be surprised at what you can — and can’t — put down there.

Let’s quickly review the do’s and don’ts so you can avoid kitchen drain clogs and expensive drain cleaning repairs in the future.

Not Safe to Put Down Your Kitchen Drain

Be aware of these unsafe items that should never be placed down your kitchen drain, even if you have a garbage disposal. You might be surprised by some of the foods on our list.

1. Coffee Grounds

Coffee grounds are not completely water-soluble. If these grounds mix with other buildup already in the pipes — like grease, oil, or butter — then your pipes will be more prone to clogging. The coffee grounds will stick to the buildup and cause a clog.

why put salt down the drain - coffee grounds in sink
Don’t throw coffee grounds down your drain. They can stick to the inside walls of your pipes and won’t fully dissolve.

2. Butter & Margarine

Melted or not, butter and margarine are terrible for your drain. They will harden and stick to the sides of the pipe creating constant buildup over time. 

kitchen drain - butter
I can’t believe it’s butter you just put down that drain!

3. Eggshells

Eggshells should not be going down your kitchen drain. They are hard on the garbage disposal drains and their membranes will wrap around the grinding device. Once they are ground, all of those tiny bits of shell will increase the chance of other blockages.

clogged kitchen sink - egg shells in drain
We “b-egg” you to not dispose of your eggshells this way. Put them in the trash.

4. Medications

Medication has no real threat to your drain or pipes, but it can cause an environmental risk. Always dispose of your medication in some type of sealed container and throw it away in a trash can. 

kitchen drain - medications clog drains
This is what happens to those medications. Don’t throw them away by the batch…or even individually. Instead, throw them in the trash after placing them in a sealed bag or container.

5. Pasta

Pasta and noodles absorb water. This causes them to expand the more water you expose them to in the drain. And everyone knows how sticky pasta is, right? Eventually, your pasta noodles are going to stick and cause a major clogging issue. 

kitchen drain - pasta stuck on wall
Yup, pasta is sticky. If it sticks to your walls, you know what it will stick to in your drain..the inside of your drain! Don’t let this sticky pasta clogging catastrophe happen to you.

6. Cooking Oil

Leftover grease and fats are known to thicken and solidify. So, don’t pour them down your kitchen sink. It allows other debris to cling onto the sides of the pipes. This causes buildup, which greatly increases the odds that your drain will be clogged. We make a lot of money every year cleaning drains of congealed cooking oils. Don’t let us make money on you. Like the other no-no’s on this list, it is totally preventable.

kitchen drain - cooking oil congealed in pipe
This is the buildup of cooking oil in a pipe. And yes, that’s exactly what it does to your kitchen drain. NEVER pour oils of any kind in any kind of drain. Pour it into a container (like a tin can) and put it in the trash.

7. Rice 

Ever watched what happens to rice after it has been poured in water? That’s right, it expands…a lot. And you know how much rice people eat and discard. Over time, that sticky, expanded rice will cling to your drain and cause a blockage.

rice being poured down kitchen drain
Rice is similar to pasta because it expands in water and gets really sticky. Not good qualities for being poured down a sink.

8. Flour

When flour is mixed with water, it is known to create a really sticky glue-like substance. If it builds up on the sides of your pipes, it will cause a clog. It can also cause other food waste to stick to it while on the way down.

flour is not safe to put down kitchen drain

9. Potato Peels

Potato peels are well know to clog a drain. Why? They contain lots of starch. Like most of the items on this list, simply dispose of the flour in a trash can.

troubleshoot a garbage disposal - potato peels in sink
Potato peels (really, any peels you can think of from fruits and vegetables) should go into a garbage can, not your drain.

10. Seafood Shells

Most people only think of eggshells when talking about foods that shouldn’t go down a drain. But seafood shells are also bad. They are hard on your garbage disposal, get lodged, and cause blockages. Put them in your garbage can instead.

seafood shells not safe to put down kitchen drain
Most cooks know not to put seafood shells, like these lobster shells, down a drain. Often, they accidentally fall into the drain during prep. One good tip if you’re prepping near the sink is to place a towel over the drain until you’re done.

Safe to Put Down Your Kitchen Drain

Now let’s list the types of foods that you are able to safely throw down your kitchen drain.

  • Soft Foods: If it is easy for you to chew, it can usually be safely put down the drain (with or without a garbage disposal). Just keep in mind that having a garbage disposal is always better than not having one.
  • Most Liquids: Liquids don’t cause issues in your drain because they are being washed down with running water. The only liquids that don’t apply to this rule are oils or melted foods like butter and margarine.
  • Some Vegetables: Most veggies can be tossed down the drain. But try not to throw lots of fibrous, starchy vegetables down there. While peas are usually fine, broccoli is not.
  • Some Leftovers: Most of the time, your leftovers can go down the drain. But not if they are on our unsafe list. Again, most liquids and soft foods are fine. But stay away from dumping down the drain any waste that is hard, starchy, sticky, or oily.
soft foods like berries are safe for kitchen drain

Final Thoughts

How many items on this list surprised you? There are even more unsafe foods for your kitchen drain that aren’t listed here.

The key to preventing drain clogs is to remember that soft foods and liquids are generally okay. But keep sticky, starchy, oily foods and oils away from your sink. Get into the habit of being mindful of the items that should or shouldn’t go down your kitchen drain.

Call 1-Tom-Plumber

Don’t hesitate to contact us here or call us at 1-Tom-Plumber (1-866-758-6237) if you need a kitchen drain cleaning service.

1-Tom-Plumber’s certified team of plumbers and drain technicians respond immediately to any emergency plumbing, drain cleaning, or water damage problem. We also handle the excavation of underground water lines and sewer main lines. Our immediate-response team is available every day and night of the year, even on holidays.

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