The following items – which we call the big offenders – are known to be major causes of clogged drains, and should never be put down the drain or toilet:
Grease from fats and oils may be liquid on entering a drain, but it soon cools off down there and will rapidly congeal and become a sticky solid mass that adheres to pipe walls and attracts further waste to it.
Use a fat trap (a lined, disposable container) to pour waste oils and fats into or add it to your green recycling bin. Keep a caddy in the kitchen for food waste – it is healthier for your pipes as well as the planet!
Both human and pet hair are also major clog-factors. The simplest way to avoid drains becoming blocked by hair build-up is to install simple mesh screens over all your drains, particularly shower and bath drains.
A mesh screen in the kitchen sink will also trap food waste from washing down the drain. They are easy to clean out – just make it a habit to empty them regularly.
Coffee grounds seem like a harmless, free-flowing item to wash down the sink. However, you may be surprised to learn that they are a high-risk factor for drain blockages.
Dispose of them – along with other food waste particles, like rice and pasta – in the food waste bin or repurpose them by adding them to your pot plants for added plant nutrition.
Items such as wet-wipes, dental floss, cotton balls and feminine hygiene items should be disposed of in a bin, not flushed down the toilet. They easily snag on rough parts inside drains and build up into potential blockages.
Pharmaceuticals and Chemicals
Engine oil, paints and solvents should be safely disposed of according to local regulations; never introduced it to the water supply where they can harm our groundwater and be toxic to plants and wildlife. Return unused medicines to a chemist for safe disposal.
The following items should never be disposed of down any drain:
- Food waste
- Plastic bags
- Sanitary towels, including tampons, applicators, and wrappers
- Cotton buds
- Bandages and plasters
- Razor blades
- Medicines, needles, and syringes
Tips to Maintain Clean Drains
As well as teaching your family what is safe and not safe to dispose of down the drains, it’s also a good idea to regularly use some simple cleaning procedures.
These six easy steps will help to dissolve and loosen any fats that have started to build up:
- Boil a pot of water.
- Pour ½ cup of vinegar and ½ cup of baking soda into the drain.
- Put a cleaning rag over the top of the drain to cover it.
- Wait 5 minutes or so while the mixture eats away at the build-up.
- Remove the rag and pour the boiling water into the drain.
- Put some vinegar on the sponge and wipe down the drain fixture.
You can also buy yourself a drain snake (also known as a plumber’s snake – a long, flexible, small auger that rotates as it is physically pushed through the clog) to hook out build-ups and dislodge early build-up.