7 Kitchen Sink Sins to Avoid

Show of hands: Which one of you has just poured bacon grease right out of the pan down into the sink? Or dumped a pot’s worth of used coffee grounds down the drain? Now, consider this: What you dump today you might be drinking tomorrow. The average American uses about 90 gallons of water each day in the home, amounting to approximately 107,000 gallons per household each year, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Because of our high water usage, nearly everything flushed down the sink winds up back in the drinking water supply—unless it gets stuck, clogging your pipes and triggering pricey plumbing bills. Even modern municipal water filtration systems aren’t fully capable of removing toxic chemicals. Save yourself the hassle and danger by adhering to this list of things that you should never—and we do mean never—dump down the kitchen sink.

  1. Danger in the Drains

    What not to dump down sink

    Although the drain in your kitchen sink might seem like a convenient place to dispose of household waste and spoiled milk, it can't handle everything you might want to drop into it. Here, we list some of the biggest down-the-drain offenses. Which are you guilty of committing?


  2. Used Motor Oil

    How To Dispose of Motor Oil

    The absolute biggest no-no of the bunch, used motor oil should never find its way down the a sink, whether in the kitchen or garage. One quart of it can contaminate 2 million gallons of drinking water, according to the EPA. Used motor oil—as well as other automotive products including brake fluid, antifreeze, and engine degreaser—should be taken to a service station or recycling center for disposal.


  3. How to dispose of toxic chemicals

    How to dispose of toxic chemicals

    Many toxic substances are in common household products, including paint, paint thinners, turpentine, solvent-based cleaners and polishes, lacquer, and even nail polish remover. Rather than disposing of these in the drain, consider bringing leftovers to a community cleanup day, when many cities and towns accept toxic substances for proper disposal.


  4. Medications

    How to dispose of old prescriptions

    About a third of all medications sold are never used. When these expire, don’t dump them down the sink or in the toilet. Studies have found everything from antibiotics to birth control medications in drinking water supplies. Many local pharmacies have take-back programs. Alternatively, you can mix medications into kitty litter or coffee grounds and throw them in the trash.


  5. Pesticides and Fertilizers

    How to Dispose of Pesticides

    The toxins in pesticides can wreak havoc on fragile ecosystems and cause severe health problems in humans if ingested. Similarly, the nitrates used in fertilizers can pose a significant health hazard. In infants, poisoning can cause blue baby syndrome, a potentially fatal condition that results when the blood cannot transport oxygen. Instead of dumping pesticides down the sink, contact your local solid waste agency to learn about proper disposal.


  6. Pet Waste

    Pet Waste Disposal

    Most municipalities classify animal waste as raw or untreated sewage, because it often contains parasites and microorganisms that can be harmful to humans and other animals. Pet waste should be disposed of in the regular garbage—not down a sink's drain.


  7. Cooking Oil and Grease

    How to Dispose of Cooking Oil

    Bacon fat, lard, butter, chicken fat, and other greasy substances typically harden quickly. If that happens while the fat is going down your pipes, it coats the drainage system and eventually clogs the plumbing, which can lead to costly repair bills. It’s better to let the fat solidify in a glass jar or leftover soup can, then dispose of it in the regular trash. Avoid dumping cooking fats into a compost pile. They block the oxygen necessary for decomposition and can attract pests.


  8. Kitchen Waste

    What to do with kitchen scraps

    Unless you have a garbage disposal, avoid putting vegetable and fruit peels, cereal, eggshells, and coffee grounds down the kitchen sink. Not only do these scraps take a lot of water to rinse down, but water reacts with many foods like pasta, rice, and bread, which expand, and potato skins can release starch, forming a glue-like clog inside the drain, often too far down in the system to easily clear. Better to dump kitchen scraps in the compost pile.


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