Ten Proper Garbage Disposal Tips to Avoid a Blocked Drain

Let’s face it, you are probably throwing things down the drain that you shouldn’t. Whether it is a sanitary wipe in the toilet or bacon grease down the kitchen sink some things do not belong in your plumbing. If you want to prevent a blocked drain, the best place to start is with some preventative measures. In this case, it may mean doing away with a few convenient habits. Learning proper garbage disposal methods can save both time and money ultimately used on an inevitable visit from the plumber.

Here are a few things that you should not put down your drain.

Grease and Oils

Grease and oils are a big no for any drain. They coat your pipes and act as an adhesive for other small pieces moving through the plumbing. They create a thick residue that can cause a blocked drain and develop strong odors when the grease turns rancid. The best way to get rid of any grease is to pour it into a container (hint: look through your recycling bin to find anything you are already throwing away) and let it cool before you toss it to create less of a mess.

Coffee Grounds

Coffee grounds seem small and harmless enough to go down the drain without a problem, but because they don’t dissolve, they stick to grease coating your plumbing and build up over time. The best way to get rid of coffee grounds is by composting them! Mixing coffee grounds into your garden can also help prevent insects from eating your plants. If you don’t have a garden or are getting rid of coffee grounds at the office, the trash works fine as well.


So, you are making breakfast and cracking a few eggs, what do you do with the shells? Just like coffee grounds once the eggshells are ground up, they are likely to stick to any oil or grease that is in your pipes. The membrane between the shell and the egg also acts as a strong adhesive which can be problematic for your garbage disposal. Eggshells are best disposed of in the trash or composted.

Paper or Cotton Products

When you have a mess on your plate and a napkin thrown into the mix it may be tempting to wash it all down the garbage disposal, but if you know what is good for your drain, throw the napkin in the trash. Cotton and paper products, like cotton balls or paper towels, are meant to be absorbent and can do a lot of damage when improperly disposed of. They can expand in your drain causing serious blockage even if they say they are biodegradable. Same thing with sanitary wipes. When in doubt throw it in the trash and not down the drain.

Hygiene Products and Wipes

Hygiene products and wipes have the potential to get stuck in your plumbing and wreak havoc on your pipes as well as septic tanks and wastewater treatment plants. They are absorbent and can expand in your pipes creating a blocked drain much like paper or cotton products. These products should be sanitarily wrapped in toilet paper and disposed of in a trash can. Most public restrooms will have a disposal area in the bathroom stall. They should never be flushed down the toilet.

Meat or Bones

Much like grease, the fat from meat can congeal in your drain and will smell when it begins to rot. Meat scraps are also compostable, but it is suggested to use a composting hole to avoid scavenging animals as well as the smell. Bones, on the other hand, are bad for your garbage disposal. They are typically too hard to be properly ground up and should be thrown away.

Pasta or rice

Pasta and rice expand when they encounter water which as we have learned from several other things on our list can cause blockage. Wet pasta and rice form a glue-like paste that can build and solidify in your pipes. The same basic principle applies when dumping flour down the drain. We suggest you scrape your leftover pasta or rice into the trash.


Running paint down the drain is a bad idea for two reasons. Paint can solidify and cause a blocked drain and the chemicals in the paint can contaminate drinking and groundwater. Latex and oil paints are the worst for your drain and the environment, but some water treatment professionals say that water-based paints should not be washed down the drain either. If you have ever seen a slop sink at a school art room, you will know exactly how bad a paint clog can be. It is best to dispose of leftover paint in hazardous waste facilities.


This one has less to do with a blocked drain and more to do with water contamination. You should never throw unused medication down the drain. It is tempting to get rid of it in a way that children and pets can’t find it, but flushing medication contaminates water and is dangerous to humans and animals. Not all contamination due to flushed medication can be removed by wastewater treatment plants. The absolute best way to get rid of unused medication is to take it back to a drug take-back site.

Cleaning Products

On the same vein as medication, chemicals in most standard cleaning products can disrupt ecosystems when introduced to rivers or lakes. When mixed, certain chemicals can react dangerously and can be damaging to pipes and septic systems. If you need to dispose of cleaners, the best thing you can do is use it up or give it away. Most local shelters or churches are willing to take your unused cleaners. Then switch to all-natural cleaners which are far less damaging to drains and the environment.

You may be looking at this list and wondering, “what is the point of having a garbage disposal?” If you are careful of what you put into your plumbing, you can greatly lengthen your time between plumber visits. By being mindful of how you dispose of your waste you can help save the environment and save yourself from any unsanitary problems down the road.

If you are receiving this advice too late and need a plumber now, we have you covered. At Valley Fire Protection and Plumbing, we have expert plumbers on staff that can help you unclog that drain. Contact us today to schedule a service.

By: Tom Hartel
I acquired my expertise by directing day-to-day operations of the business for over 20 years. Continuous hard work helped me become a nationally recognized speaker and expert on fire protection, fire sprinklers, special hazards, and plumbing systems. In this blog, I share my knowledge that will hopefully help you make better decisions for your projects.



  1. How to Prevent a Kitchen Sink Clog · Valley Fire Protection Systems - […] Grease and oils can spell disaster for your plumbing when left to buildup. While some grease down the drain…

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