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The Homeowner’s Essential Guide to Sink Drain No-Nos

The Homeowner's Essential Guide to Sink Drain No-Nos

Are you inadvertently sabotaging your plumbing every time you rinse a dish or wash your hands? Maybe! The sink—be it in the kitchen or the bathroom—is the unsung hero of cleanliness. Yet, it’s not invincible, and there’s a lot more to safeguarding it than just installing a mesh strainer. Not all pipes are created equal, and what goes down can have a major impact on your plumbing’s longevity and performance.

In this deep-dive exploration of the pains our pipes undergo daily, we’re baring all on the top offenders. From commonplace food scraps to beauty products, we’ll highlight the silent but deadly items that could be lurking in your drain, waiting to wreak havoc on your home’s hydraulic system. Whether you’re a busy parent, a DIY enthusiast, or just settling into your first home, this comprehensive list will help you keep the water flowing smoothly, quite literally.

Unsure of sink-side etiquette? Then let’s jump into the do’s and don’ts of sink usage and maintenance.

The Fundamental Flow No-Nos

When it comes to adulting 101, learning what not to chuck down your sink is up there with changing a tire or managing a budget. Here are some prime sink culprits that should never take a plunge.

1. Grease and Cooking Oils

It’s a common scene post-frying—hot oil and grease sizzling in the pan, ready for disposal. But the sink isn’t the exit strategy these substances need. When fats hit cold water (classic when washing dishes), they congeal, coating pipes with a sticky residue that collects debris, leading to blockages and odors.

2. Coffee Grounds

Morning coffee is the lifeblood of many, but its remnants aren’t the lifeblood of your plumbing. These fine, gritty granules clump together, creating sludgy masses that can cling to the pipe walls and cause slow drainage.

3. Pasta and Rice

Think grains are harmless? Think again. When these little tykes expand with water, they become the bane of our drains’ existence. The sticky, expanded noodles and rice stick to everything, forming stubborn clogs.

4. Eggshells

A common misconception is that eggshells help to clean your disposal. This couldn’t be further from the truth. The membranes inside the shells can wrap around the disposal blades, and the shells themselves break into tiny, abrasive particles that can lodge in drains and cause problems.

5. Medications

Flushing old pills or pouring liquid medicines down the drain can contaminate water supplies and harm wildlife. Instead, take unused medications to a pharmacy with a drug take-back program.

The Treacherous Kitchen Terrain

Your kitchen sink is not just any drain; it’s a potential minefield of blockages and odors. Here’s a closer look at some more things you may consider sending down the river but definitely shouldn’t.

1. Flour and Baking Mixes

These powdery elements may seem benign, but they become glue-like when mixed with water, forming a heavy paste that can encase drain pipes and disrupt the flow.

2. Starchy Foods

Potatoes, for example, are starch powerhouses. When potato peels are disposed of in the sink, the starch granules they contain can turn water into a very effective glue, perfect for clogging up pipes.

3. Bones and Hard Seeds

The tough, fibrous composition of bones and seeds—like from peaches or avocados—is a recipe for disaster in a kitchen drain. They can damage your garbage disposal and can’t be flushed down without potentially leading to hefty plumbing bills.

4. Chemicals and Paints

Leftover cleaning chemicals and paint can harm your drains and the environment. Always dispose of these hazardous materials properly by taking them to a local waste management facility.

5. Fibrous Foods

Pass on sending celery, asparagus, and onion skins through your disposal. These fibrous foods can wrap around the blades, impede their movement, and lead to mechanical issues.

Bathroom Betrayals

It might not be as noisy, but your bathroom sink drain is just as prone to peril. The space under the bathroom sink is a tempting hideout for some everyday items that should remain above ground.

1. Dental Floss

Sure, it’s a minuscule sliver of nylon, but it’s non-biodegradable and easily tangled. Over many months or years, dental floss can ensnare other debris and lead to stubborn clogs.

2. Cotton Products

Cotton swabs, balls, and cosmetic pads are just as bad as floss. They might seem to vanish easily, but their long-lasting presence and absorbency can create a real headache for your plumbing system.

3. Hair

Hair is the unsung hero of bathroom sink clogs. Over time, loose strands combine to form dense clumps that are near-impossible for normal cleaning methods to shift.

4. Feminine Hygiene Products

The anatomy of these products does not lend itself to a healthy drainage system. Always dispose of these materials in the garbage, not the toilet or sink.

5. Shaving Cream and Gel

The thicker and richer the lather, the worse for your sink. These grooming aids can contribute to clogs by trapping other debris and clinging to pipe walls.

The Prevention Plan

Knowing what not to put down the sink is half the battle. The other half is being proactive in preventing clogs and poor drainage by adopting some simple practices.

1. Regular Maintenance

Invest in drain guards and fresh, non-corrosive cleaners to keep your drains running efficiently. Regularly scheduled cleanings—either by a professional or yourself—can significantly decrease the chances of an impending clog.

2. Mindful Disposal

Set up a system to ensure food scraps and other items are disposed of properly. This could mean composting food waste, using garbage bins for non-sink materials, and keeping fat and oil separate for proper disposal.

3. Flush with Hot Water

Periodically flush your drains with hot water to melt away any accumulated grease and soap. This can help keep them clear and smooth-flowing.

4. Be Cautious with Chemicals

When using drain cleaning chemicals, always follow package instructions and keep the space well-ventilated. Opt for enzymatic cleaners if possible, as they’re less caustic but just as effective.

5. Consult the Professionals

If you’re experiencing persistent drainage issues, don’t plunge forward into DIY solutions. A professional plumber can assess the problem and provide long-term solutions to keep your sinks, and spirits, unsinkable.


The life of your home’s plumbing is directly linked to the liquid and solid onslaught it faces daily. By being vigilant about what goes down your sink, you’ll not only prevent minor annoyances like slow-draining water and stinky sinks, but also stave off major issues that could lead to costly repairs or replacements.

To keep your pipes in peak condition, stick to the basics. Know your drain’s enemies and maintain a proactive stance. With these sink-side no-nos in your back pocket, you’re well-equipped to protect your plumbing and ensure that your water goes down—and stays down—the way it’s meant to.

If you have had a drain accident no worries, call TBros today. We are waiting and ready to help!

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