Coffee Grounds, Kitty Litter and Other Things You Should Never Put Down Your Drains

If all we ever flushed were toilet paper and waste, and if all we ever washed down our sinks was soapy water, we’d likely never have slow or clogged drains.

But most of us are messy and forgetful. By paying closer attention to what you're putting in your plumbing, you’ll save yourself a lot of frustration and money.

5 Things You Should Never Put Down Your Sink or Toilet

Coffee Grounds

Coffee grounds are just food, so they should be safe to wash down your sink...right? Wrong! Coffee grounds do not break down. Instead, grounds clump and cling to the pipe, forming a stubborn obstruction. And they’re bad news for a septic system. The helpful bacteria can’t break them down, which adds to the sludge volume in the tank.

Throw them in the trash instead. Bonus: coffee grounds help deodorize your stinky garbage!

Or consider how to put coffee grounds to use:

  • Put them in your garden: Coffee grounds have antimicrobial properties that help keep your spinach, tomatoes, and cucumber’s free of fungus and bacteria. They’re also rich in nitrogen, improving soil fertility. Just use them sparingly because coffee grounds are highly acidic.

  • Compost them: Coffee grounds can contribute to your compost heap by improving drainage aeration in the soil. Just be sure grounds are not more than 10 to 20 percent of your compost’s total volume because they could interfere with the decomposition process.

Kitty Litter

Kitty litter is a nightmare for your drains. Litter absorbs water and clumps, forming a serious blockage in the pipe. And don’t let the packaging mislead you: even so-called flushable kitty litter isn’t great for your plumbing system, especially if you have a septic tank because it’s non-biodegradable.

Oh, and cat poop is a public health threat.

Cat poop can contain toxoplasmosis gondii, a protozoan parasite that “infects most species of warm-blooded animals, including humans,” accordion to the CDC. The Environmental Protection Agency cites the parasite’s transmission through our water system as a very real public health risk. Modern water treatment facilities cannot remove T. gondii or other intestinal parasites from our water supply. That’s why states such as California mandate that manufacturers include a warning on the packaging to discourage pet owners from flushing cat feces.

Flushable Wipes

They go by a lot of names, but they’re all terrible for your drains. Flushable wipes, moisty naps, sanitary wipes, baby wipes, and the like, do not break down in the sewer. If they do disintegrate, the process is very slow. Meanwhile, they’re catching things and getting hung up on 45-degree bends in the line. Clogs are the inevitable result. They won’t break down in your septic system, either. Remember: what doesn’t decompose must be pumped out.

Even if flushable wipes manage to slip through your drain line without incident, the disgusting little rags wreak havoc at the municipal water treatment plant.

Flushable wipes are in the same category these other non-flushable items:

  • Q-tips

  • Tampons

  • Cotton balls

  • Floss

Spare yourself a plumbing catastrophe and throw these things in the wastebasket.

Starchy Foods

Your in-sink garbage disposal is the most underrated kitchen appliances of the modern era. It pulverizes produce and other foodstuffs into liquid waste for quick and easy disposal. Without it, food scraps would sit in the trash, stink up your home and gather flies until garbage day.

But this convenience comes with a cost. Pulverized food can make a mess of your plumbing. Pasta, potatoes, and other starchy foods are particularly problematic because they swell with moisture and cling to the drain’s interior. Celery and other stringy produce, meanwhile, can tangle up inside the appliance.

Overuse of a garbage disposal can also overwhelm your septic system.

Toss these foods in the garbage or, better yet, compost them.

Grease and Oil

Let that greasy frying pan sit on the stove overnight and see what you get. All that fat and oil turns into something resembling lard when it cools off. The same thing happens when you rinse fat, grease, and oil down your sink. They congeal to form a nasty build-up of grease that may require a plumber to jet the line. Avoid the expense and place used cooking oils in a jar or can and throw it in the garbage.

Turn to Your Kennesaw Area Drain Experts

What’s outlined above are some of the biggest offenders when it comes to clogs. Keep these things out of your drains to keep your plumbing operating problem-free. If you encounter slow or clogged drains, turn to the experts at Integrated Plumbing Solutions. Call (770) 343-7370 to schedule your appointment.