What Not to Put Down Your Drain

Posted: 3/15/2013

Do you ever think twice before disposing items down your drain? Well, you should. When running small errands at home we often get distracted and don't even realize the harm we are doing by what we rinse down the kitchen sink, bath and shower drains, and even what we flush down the toilet.

In a study published in 2002, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) collected and analyzed water samples from 139 streams in 30 states in order to measure concentrations of 95 wastewater-related organic chemicals in water. One or more of these chemicals were found in 80 percent of the streams sampled. Half of the streams contained seven or more of these chemicals, and about one-third of the streams contained 10 or more of these chemicals. Most chemicals found in the study come from pharmaceutical products, which means you can do a lot for the environment by simply not flushing prescriptions.

Kitchen waste can be a big problem: Oils and greases not only clog pipes but also pollute and clog sewage systems, which can lead to sewer overflows and backups that cause health hazards, damage home interiors and threaten the environment. A very common cause of overflow is grease blocking sewer pipes: This results in raw sewage overflowing in your home or your neighbor's home. The cleanup is an expensive and unpleasant process that can cost the homeowner. So, how can we avoid this? By being selective as to what is put down the drain. Let's take a look at what should not be rinsed down your kitchen sink:

  • Meat fats
  • Cooking oil
  • Butter, margarine and shortening
  • Baking goods
  • Sauces
  • Dairy products
  • Coffee grinds
  • Egg shells


The items below should never be washed down your drain or flushed down the toilet:

  • Food, oils or grease from cars or lawnmowers
  • Produce stickers
  • Chunks of garbage
  • Feminine hygiene products
  • Paper towels
  • All cat litter, including those advertised as "flushable"
  • Rags
  • Condoms
  • Motor oil, transmission fluids, anti-freeze or other toxic chemicals
  • Solvents, paints, turpentine, nail polish, polish remover
  • Flammable or explosive substances
  • Corrosive substances that are either acidic or caustic (such as vinegar and baking soda)
  • Prescription and over-the-counter medications

Following these simple guidelines before disposing items down the drain or toilet, you will help the environment, your neighbors and yourself. If you are not sure about how you can dispose specific items and you have any questions, please contact your management team and they will provide you with additional information.