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?
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- 7 Kitchen Sink Sins to Avoid
7 Kitchen Sink Sins to Avoid
Danger in the Drains
Used 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.
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.
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.
Pesticides and Fertilizers
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.
Cooking Oil and Grease
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.
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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