4 Surprising Things You Should Never Put Down Your Kitchen Sink, According to Plumbers

updated Aug 18, 2020
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No matter what a workhorse your kitchen sink is, you probably know there are some things it can’t handle. And while you’re right to be careful with the obvious culprits, like bacon grease, there are a few surprising ones that you might not know are secretly wreaking havoc on the plumbing system you rely on day-in and day-out, says Doyle James, president of Mr. Rooter Plumbing, a Neighborly company.

Here, four other top offenders that belong in the garbage — not the drain. 

Credit: Joe Lingeman

1. Produce stickers

You know those little coded stickers on apples, bananas, and other fruits and veggies? They might look harmless, but before washing your produce, it’s important to remove those sticky labels from each item and toss them in the garbage. “While these produce stickers are small, they are not water soluble and can potentially cause big problems for your pipes,” says James. These tiny stickers are coated in a super tacky adhesive that can latch onto the inside of your plumbing system’s pipes. Eventually, this can create a buildup that may lead to clogged pipes and backups, says James. Additionally, they can cause problems at water treatment plants, since those little stickers can get caught in filters and screens.

Credit: Joe Lingeman

2. Oatmeal

This breakfast favorite can seem enough like a liquid to wash it down the sink, but it deserves a spot in the trash. “The danger with oatmeal, both cooked and uncooked, is that it has a tendency to expand once it’s mixed with water,” says James. As the water and moisture in oatmeal evaporates, it becomes more gelatinous, eventually becoming a peanut butter-like consistency, he explains. “Oatmeal can also stick onto drain pipe walls, and this can shut a drain down completely,” he adds. Once it achieves this level, it’s very difficult to remove the blockage.

Credit: Joe Lingeman

3. Flour

Similarly, it’s best to avoid pouring excess flour down your kitchen sink, says James. Don’t stress over a few rogue sprinkles, though. “While it’s safe to rinse away flour that’s been heavily watered down, you should avoid putting flour-based substances, like cake and pancake batter mixtures, into your kitchen’s drain, explains James. Why? Because flour coagulates when mixed with water, it can coat pipes. Think of it like the arteries in your body — overtime, this buildup of sludge-like substance may cause a backup that’s difficult and expensive to remove.

Credit: Joe Lingeman

4. Paint

Pouring paint down your sink is bad for two reasons, says Mark Dawson, COO of Benjamin Franklin Plumbing. Though occasional brush rinses aren’t an issue—particularly if you’re using water-soluble latex paint — you should never dump excess paint into the sink. “This can harden into a mass that can settle into the bottom of the drain line, which can cause a future possible stoppage area,” says James. Pouring enough paint, both water- and oil-based, down your pipes is also bad for the environment, he adds. Instead of dumping any remnants in your sink,  contact your local sanitation department to find out where to properly dispose of it. 

This post originally appeared on Apartment Therapy. See it there: 4 Seemingly Harmless Things That Will Ruin Your Kitchen Sink, According to Pros