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12 Things You Should Never Pour Down the Drain

Sure, it's more convenient to simply flush this stuff down the drain—but you may live to regret it.

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Baby wipesPhoto: Shutterstock

Many products claiming to be “flushable”

A great deal of products claiming to be “flushable” such as certain brands of cat litter and wipes still create a high risk of clogged drains. Cat litter is still highly absorbent after you flush it and toxins from cat feces may leak into waterways and harm marine life. Many brands of “flushable” wipes also fail to break break down as advertised, creating clogs in pipes.

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Broken eggshellsPhoto: Shutterstock


You might think that a crushed-up eggshell should slide down the drain smoothly, but it’s actually increasing the risk of a serious blockage. The sharp, hard edges of the shell can collect other things coming down your drain, and eventually cause a clog.

Here are 14 more reasons you need to stop throwing away eggshells.

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Grease in panPhoto: Shutterstock


When you pour grease down the drain, it sticks to the inside of your pipes—as well as the pipes in the street. This can cause the entire system to become clogged over time. Instead, make sure to let the grease cool first, then dispose of it in the garbage.

Psst—you’ve been putting garbage bags in wrong this whole time.

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Flour on wooden tablePhoto: Shutterstock


Flour coagulates when mixed with water. This can clog your pipes by coating the edges and catching other bits of disposables trying to make their way down. Always throw your flour—whether mixed with water or not—in the garbage.

Here’s why you should drill holes in your garbage can (if you haven’t already).

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Prescription pillsPhoto: Shutterstock


If you flush your unused or expired medication or crush it up and pour it down the drain, those chemicals will be leaked back into your drinking water and the environment. Always make sure to dispose of unwanted medication at your local pharmacy, which will have access to medical waste disposal units.

Find out more medication mistakes you’ll want to avoid.

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Sticker on bananaPhoto: Twin Design/Shutterstock

Produce Stickers

How many times have you washed fruit, watched the produce sticker fall into the sink, and then spiral down into the drain? Your best bet is to peel off these produce stickers before you wash your fruit and dispose of them properly. Those little stickers don’t dissolve in water and can clog your pipes, and block screens, filters and pumps at the water treatment plant.

Here’s what can happen when you don’t wash your produce.

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Coffee groundsPhoto: Shutterstock

Coffee Grounds

Used coffee grounds can build up in your pipes and cause blockages. In fact, plumbers say they’re the single most common cause of drain problems. You should always dispose of coffee grounds in the garbage, or better yet, use them for composting.

You can also use your coffee grounds all around the house.

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CondomsPhoto: Shutterstock


Condoms are made of latex, which doesn’t disintegrate in water, so never, ever flush them. Throw them in the trash instead.

Here’s what you should know about sex after 50.

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Cleaning productsPhoto: Shutterstock

Cleaning Products

Even though most cleaning products are liquid, they should never be poured down the drain because they contain harmful chemicals. Many contain phosphates, antibacterial agents, and other compounds that aren’t removed at the water treatment plant and can be hazardous to the ecosystem.

Follow this healthy home checklist to eliminate more potential household hazards.

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Paper towelsPhoto: Shutterstock

Paper Products

The only paper product that should go down your drain is toilet paper. It has been specially designed to break down and disintegrate in water. Always dispose of other paper products such as paper towels, cotton balls, and feminine hygiene products in the trash. These items are extremely absorbent and will easily clog your pipes.

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Uncooked macaroniPhoto: Shutterstock

Expandable Food

It okay to let some food run down the drain, but a lot of it expands when mixed with water and can lead to a block. Pasta and rice are two foods to watch out for. Also, pastas are made with flour, which will become sticky and catch other things in your pipes.

Find out how to unclog a toilet—without a plunger.

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Never pour paint down the drainPhoto: Shutterstock


Similar to cleaning products, paint should never be poured down the drain even though it’s a liquid. It has the potential to pollute the environment and cause your drain to clog. Many towns have hazardous waste facilities where you can safely dispose of your old or unused paint.

Now that you know what not to pour down the drain, find out the six things professional plumbers never do in their own homes.

Reader's Digest
Originally Published on Reader's Digest