10 items you shouldn’t put down the drain (but probably do)
While blocked drains can occur through no fault of your own, the biggest problem we face at Drain Doctor is people mistreating their drainage systems by putting unflushable items down drains.
Earlier this month (June 2019), a staggering 20 tonnes of fat had to be removed from drains in St Andrews, while High Wycombe saw raw sewage flowing through local wildlife sites after a fatberg made from unflushable items blocked a drain. Clearly, this is not just a local issue but a national concern that requires a collective shift in how we view waste.
Save yourself the time and expense of calling out a drainage technician by having a read of our list of top 10 items you shouldn’t put down the drain, but probably do.
Fats, Oils, Grease (FOG)
FOG is a drainage technician’s worst nightmare. Not only does FOG stick to the inside of pipes, but will also solidify when chilled, eventually causing blockages and contributing to fatbergs. Although everybody knows not to do this, a recent poll revealed that almost half the population admitted to still pouring FOG down the drain, despite awareness of fatbergs being on the rise.
Save your wallet from costly blocked drains and make sure you properly dispose of FOG. For detailed advice on how to best get rid of FOG, take a look at this article.
Coffee grounds are thought to be one of the biggest offenders (alongside FOG) for blocking drains. Though it might seem innocent enough to let coffee grounds go down the drain, they can wreak havoc on your drainage systems since they aren’t totally water soluble. Over time, coffee grounds can build up and clog drains – this is made all the more likely if you are also pouring FOG down drains.
Since coffee grounds are so beneficial for plant-life, the most environmentally friendly way to get rid of coffee grounds is to compost them.
A perhaps less obvious item you should never put down the drain is egg shells. Not only do egg shell fragments add to and progress other blockages, they can also be quite damaging for your sink. This is particularly true if you have a garbage disposal. The hard outer-shell can weaken the blades while the egg’s membrane may detach and wrap itself around the grinding apparatus.
Just like coffee grounds, egg shells should ideally be composted to avoid damage to drainage systems.
Expandable foods, such as pasta and rice, can prove devasting for your drainage system. Rice may all too easily slip down the drain and expand once it’s absorbed water. Additionally, pasta can often be coated in a sticky semolina flour which, much like FOG, can cause food remnants to cling to the inside of pipes and produce blockages.
To avoid this, consider investing in a sink strainer which effectually traps food wastage before it goes down the drain.
If you’ve ever mixed flour and water together, you’ll know it makes a thick and sticky paste which can easily coagulate and coat the insides of your pipes – not ideal for drains. That’s why it’s always best to throw any excess flour into the bin instead of putting it in the sink.
While it’s safe to assume most people wouldn’t deliberately put produce stickers in the drain, they can easily slip down the kitchen sink when you wash your fruit and veg. This is problematic as they are generally made of plastic and therefore do not biodegrade. These pesky produce stickers can compile with other drain wastage to eventually block drains.
Remember to put stickers in the bin prior to washing fruit and veg or make use of a sink strainer to catch them for you.
Did you know that approximately 20% of men flush used condoms? Not only does this contribute to the growing issue of fatbergs, but it also poses an environmental problem. Flushed condoms will inevitably end up in the ocean where they can be mistaken for food by various sea creatures. Due to the chemicals used to preserve the shelf life of condoms, it is estimated that it would take roughly 30 years for the latex to break down in the ocean.
Best practice is to throw used condoms in the bin since the latex has a better chance of breaking down on land and won’t pose a threat to our already plastic infested oceans.
This ranges from feminine hygiene products to cotton balls but, it is wet wipes in particular that have proven to be a huge problem for fatbergs in the UK. Even wipes that claim to be ‘flushable’ can pose more of a risk to drain blockages since they encourage a misconception that these are safe to flush. In reality, these so called ‘flushable’ wipes will often contain plastic which means they do not biodegrade quickly. In 2017, an investigation into UK sewer blockages found that wet wipes accounted for 93% of the material causing blockages.
Always throw your used toiletries in the bin or try to find an environmentally friendly alternative.
It is highly dangerous to put any drugs down the drain and should never be done. This is because wastewater treatment plants cannot remove medications from water which results in them entering the environment and even returning to our drinking water. This can lead to a variety of problems, including antibiotic resistance.
The only way to safely dispose of unused or expired medications is to take them to your local pharmacist who will have access to a medical waste disposal unit.
As is the case with medications, wastewater treatment plants can’t remove harmful chemicals that are contained in cleaning products, paints, oils and solvents. These chemicals will eventually reach the ocean and pollute the environment.
To find out how to safely get rid of cleaning products, you should read the label or visit the manufacturers website. If you’re still unsure how to correctly dispose of toxic chemicals, contact your local waste facility.
If you have any concerns with your drains, don’t hesitate to give Drain Doctor a call. We offer 24/7 drainage support across the UK where our skilled technicians use the latest advanced clearing equipment to remove blockages efficiently and provide a long-lasting solution. To find out more about our services, contact our expert drainage technicians at Drain Doctor on 0800 707172.