Drains Demystified: Dealing With Grease and Oils

grease poured into sink drain

Disposing of grease and oils can be a perilous task. It can be especially perilous for your plumbing. Grease and denser oils cannot go down the drain because they tend to solidify when they collect in one spot. However, did you know that cooking oils and grease aren’t the only substances that can cause major problems with your plumbing? There are other things that can cause blockages that aren’t food related at all. Things like anti-bacterial soaps, hair products, and toothpastes can create blockages of the plumbing of your home if your pipes aren’t well-maintained.

It may seem fine as you’re pouring the substances down the drains, but over time and with accumulated materials, your pipes get blocked. This blockage can affect your home’s plumbing, causing water to not drain, backups in pipes, and worse problems if left unattended to.

Cleaning up grease, whether it is olive oil, anti-bacterial gel, toothpaste, or the like, doesn’t have to be a fight. While their consistency is not good for your plumbing, there are ways to ensure this isn’t an issue. If you learn the correct ways to deal with and dispose of grease and oils, you won’t have to worry about clogged drains and piping repairs.

Divert Oils from the Drain

Find whatever works for you to help you divert oil from your drain.

If you know that you’re going to have a greasy sink, whether in the kitchen or the bathroom, think about putting in some sort of catcher down to collect the materials.

For example, if you know that someone in the family uses a lot of toothpaste, which kids tend to do, put something that will hold the gunk while letting the water flow through your sink. The same can be done when shaving at the sink, that way more gel can go in the trash rather than down the drain.

There are also items like clip-on on spouts that allow you to drain away grease and fat from your pans without having to sacrifice pieces of your delicious meal.

Freeze Your Excess Oils

container of oil

You don’t need to tolerate a wet, odorous pile of grease in the bottom of your garbage can. Instead, freeze your grease or cooking oil after you use it.

After you’ve finished cooking, scrape all the oil into a container, or use whatever catching device you may have, and put the excess oil in with all your other frozen items.

Simply the frozen oil out on garbage day and throw it in your trash. This is a safe, easy way to make sure you’ve disposed of the substance without ruining your trash can or clogging your plumbing.

TIP: Recycle a used, sealable plastic bag. Pour your used oils into the bag, and freeze it. This way, you don’t have to deal with cleaning reusable containers or throwing out expensive plastic ware.

Utilize Appliances When Needed

While it isn’t recommended to pour oils down the drain, if something happens to spill, it is not the end of the world. Just make sure to use the appliances at your disposal!

If you’ve accidently poured grease down your kitchen drain, make sure to keep the water running on cold to so the grease stays in its more solid form. Then you can use your garbage disposal to shred the solid substance. Leaving the cold water on while you use the disposal will flush the grease out of your pipes.

Swap Out Products

Another idea is simply to change the way you look at the denser liquids you use in your home. Things like anti-bacterial soap, which has been proven to be no more effective than regular soap and water, can clog drains, so maybe swap it for a more basic, and equally as effective soap.

Another option is to make use of the soap’s less watery cousin, the anti-bacterial hand sanitizer. The sanitizer does the same thing, while not causing potential damage to your plumbing.

Regular Pipe Flushes

faucet running water

Drains are made to take a lot of abuses. However, they are not indestructible. Whether the drain is in your bathroom, kitchen, or laundry room, it has the potential to get gummed up rather easily, especially from personal hygiene products.

For dense liquids such as shampoos and soaps, running hot water down the drain weekly can help melt some of the buildup. This will prevent creams, lotions, gels, and soaps that have gone down the drain from slowing down your drain flow.