What NOT To Put Down Your Drain: 4 Essential Items

Oct 10, 2017 | Uncategorized | 0 comments

Here at TJK Plumbing, we’ve seen all sorts of things put down the drain. Let’s face it, we’ve all put something into our garbage disposal and drain that we full knew, deep down, shouldn’t be in there. But it’s too late to turn back at that point, the damage to your pipes is now inevitable. Although your garbage disposal will probably be able to handle just about anything you throw at it, that doesn’t mean it won’t cause slow deterioration to your plumbing system.  

To avoid putting any unnecessary stress on your pipes, we have put together a list of some common kitchen items that you should avoid putting down your sink and garbage disposal.


Coffee Grounds

This may come as a surprise to some, but you should always avoid putting coffee grounds in your garbage disposal and down any drains. While there are plenty of other ways to use dispose of or use your leftover coffee grounds, we still often find ourselves just tossing them down the drain.

This needs to be avoided as there is almost nothing else that will cause your pipes to clog as much as coffee grounds will. When the grounds reach your pipes, they will form a thick sludge that is a plumbing nightmare. It should also be noted that even when you put in just a small amount at a time, they will eventually form together. Obviously if there is a pinch of grounds that spilled, it won’t really hurt to throw them down the drain, but you don’t want to make this a habit. Disposing of them properly is very simple, and should be part of your everyday coffee routine.

Photo courtesy of Newenglandcoffee.com

In the spirit of avoiding simply throwing away your coffee grounds each day, consider one of the more useful alternatives once in awhile. One option is to sprinkle it throughout your garden or potted plants. For any portion of your garden is made up of plants that love acid, like hydrangeas, your leftover coffee grounds will serve as a great fertilizer. Before spreading it you should mix them with something like brown leaves or anything dry, to balance out the acidity a bit. The coffee grounds will also keep pests like slugs, snails, and ants away from your plants.

But if you don’t need any fertilizer at the moment, you can make a compost pile and add it to that. You can make it an easy routine to simply dump your grounds in this pile, and then later on mix in any other dry plants, such as dead grass clippings. This will give you a constant supply of pre-mixed fertilizer, all done naturally. Not only saving the planet, but also your pipes and wallet.

There are a handful of ways to use coffee grounds skin and hair products, but we aren’t even going to pretend that’s in our ballpark. Instead, here is one last easy way to use your coffee grounds, to prevent them from going to waste. Take your leftover grounds from each day and keep them stored in an open container in your fridge. The goal of this is to absorb any unwanted odors that may be lingering around your fridge and freezer. Obviously even week or so you’ll have to empty the container, either using it for your garden or throwing it in the trash. Either way, this is a good way to get some extra use out of your grounds, and you are preventing your pipes from being clogged and needing a professional plumber to come fix it.


It is the same story with grease and and other ultra fatty substances, it will without a doubt lead to a massive clogging that needs repairing. In addition to the pipe issues, it will also slowly break down your garbage disposal’s ability to grind food. So this makes oil a major no-no for both your drain and garbage disposal.

Photo courtesy of Swift Plumbers

So if you can’t just flush it down the sink, what’re you supposed to do with it? For the sake of keeping the mess to a minimum with grease, as it tends to stain anything it comes in contact with, you don’t want to throw it away while still in liquid form.

After cooking, allow the grease to cool to a more manageable temperature, then pour it into a plastic container with a lid. Place the container into the freezer, and let it stay there until the trash is going to be taken out of the house. If you wanted to take this a step further, you should wait to put it in your outdoor trash container until the day before or the day of garbage collection. And to avoid getting any sanitation employees covered in grease, look for a bottle or sealed bag to put the grease in. This will keep both your indoor and outdoor trash cleaner as well. Win-win.


It is often said that eggshells can help sharpen the blades in your garbage disposal and therefore they are actually improving the health of your disposal, this is untrue. Although there are some foods and different techniques you can use for this, but we will wait to touch on this later. For now, it is important to know why not to put your eggshells down your garbage disposal and drain.

First off, the stringy membrane portion of the eggshell is extremely tough and can wrap itself around the blade, and enough of this can completely disable your garbage disposal. Then the next issue we run into is the actual eggshells being ground up. When the disposal blade runs eggshells through it, it will grind them into a ultra fine, sand-like substance. Build up of this spells trouble for your pipes.

Photo courtesy of Motherearthnews.com

Unless you want another reason to call your plumber, you need to find a way to dispose of your eggshells. There is the most obvious and probably simplistic answer is just throw them away in the trash. And there is nothing wrong with this as they will just end up decomposing. But if you want to be a little more resourceful and environmentally conscience, there are lots of other options.

Amongst the noteworthy options, is the compost route. It helps to break them up a little bit, but throwing them in your compost pile will give your soil an extra calcium boost. Along those same lines, you can simply crush them up in your hand and then sprinkle them around your garden or plants. This can work in a similar way to the coffee grounds, small insects will stay away from your garden with the eggshells. If you want to get the most out of your new pest control, grind up the eggshells into a powder. Once you have bowl of dusty eggshell bits, apply it directly to the beetles and other insects. This will kill them quickly, and keep them away beyond that. Then, sprinkle them around the base of the planet to fend of any slugs or future insects. Keep a stash of eggshells around and add it to the soil and plants as you see fit.


There are also a handful of chemicals that you should avoid pouring directly down your drain. Amongst those are paint, cleaning products, oils, and any other solvents. The correct way to dispose of these is to wait for your garbage collection day, and get rid of them at that point. These can cause serious damage to your own pipes, but beyond that it helps keep your local water treatment plant running clean and smooth.Some products are water-soluble, but you can always play it safe and just throw them in your trash. With paint is important to know the guidelines regarding the disposal, as some areas have specific rules, including absolutely no dumping it down the drain.



As I mentioned earlier, there are some things you can do for your garbage disposal that can help it’s shelf life without having to take anything apart. Some of these may be come as surprise:

  • Running small bones, such as fish, can actually clean the walls of your disposal as it is being processed.
  • When you are putting food in, run cold water with it, the cold prevents any grease or oil from remaining liquid and getting into your pipes in that from.
  • Cut large waste items into smaller pieces.
  • Cold water and soap will help to clean your disposal, but running the peel from a lemon or orange will clear away anything leftover on the walls and get rid of any lingering unpleasant odors.



Although our garbage disposals are built to handle a great deal, that doesn’t mean we should throw anything and everything at it. And as we learned here, just because your disposal can grind something up, doesn’t mean it is OK for your pipes. So do yourself a favor, and double check before you toss something down the drain.