The 5 Best Ways to Deal with Cooking Grease — Without Putting It Down the Drain

updated Nov 21, 2021
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Credit: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Barrett Washburne

Make no mistake about it: There is no “okay” way to send kitchen grease down the sink. Some people believe that chasing grease with hot water will clear it away, or that squirting dish soap down with the grease will break up the oil so that it doesn’t pose a problem. While these methods might move grease further along the pipes than usual, the grease will still eventually congeal down the pipeline. 

Grease and oil will sooner or later clog the “arteries” of the sewer system. In addition, when food particles are washed down the drain, they can get stuck in the grease and create a bigger problem. And it’s not just grease that solidifies at room temperature that’s an issue; cooking oils shouldn’t really go down the drain, either! No matter what you’ve been told is okay, the only option for safely disposing of grease and cooking oil is a way that never puts it in any pipes at all. 

So how do you get rid of it properly and easily? Here are a few creative ways.

Credit: Joe Lingeman

1. Pour it into a can or jar and allow it to cool.

Pour the fat into a container (an aluminum can, yogurt tub, bowl, mug, jar, etc!) while it’s still in liquid form. Allow the fat to cool and harden. Then, it’s time to get rid of it. You can either throw out the whole container (ideally, it has a lid or you can put it in a zip-top bag) or, if you want to keep that container, use a spoon or spatula to scrape the grease into a bag for trash. Tip: Put the liquid grease into the fridge to speed up the solidifying process. 

2. Save it.

Bacon grease in particular is a prized secret ingredient for many cooks. Saving it to use in other recipes is one tasty way to keep it out of the drainpipes. Use a coffee filter or strainer set over a container to strain the grease while it’s still pourable. Keep it in the fridge for up to three months or in the freezer indefinitely so you have some flavorful fat at the ready. 

Buy: Ceramic Grease Container, $34.87

What you might not know is that, as long as it wasn’t heated past its smoking point, that cooking oil you used for frying can also be used again. Strain it and keep for re-use in the fridge. (Don’t forget to label it!). Smell it before cooking with it to make sure it’s not rancid. 

3. Sop it up with a paper towel.

Fold up a paper towel and use tongs to get it into your pan and soak up the grease. Then, carefully toss the towel into the trash. You can also line a bowl with paper towels and pour the grease in that way.

4. Recycle it with your town.

Some cities offer curbside pickup or accept drop-offs (they can turn the used cooking oil into biodiesel!). Check Earth911 to see if there’s a recycler near you that will accept your used oil. If not, and you tend to have it by the jar-full, you can also ask your favorite local restaurants if they’ll recycle it for you.

5. Strain it into foil.

As demonstrated in this TikTok video, another way to get rid of cooking grease is to place a piece of foil in the bottom of your sink and indent it slightly into the drain. Place a colander over it and pour what you’ve cooked into the colander. The grease will strain out and collect in the foil, which can then be crumpled up and tossed in the trash. Note: If you’d rather not throw out foil, you can also perch the colander on top of a container and strain the grease into a can or jar.

How do you deal with cooking grease and oil? Tell us in the comments below.