While many homes are struggling with clogged pipes and drains, it feels like an opportune moment to remind ourselves just what should and should not go down the drain. Whether you have a garbage disposal or not, there are certain substances that should be properly disposed of instead of washed away. If you’re not a fan of stopped up pipes or costly plumber bills, take a moment to refresh yourself on these troublesome clog culprits and water polluters.
1. Cooking Oil: Oils are a major contributor to clogs and mix with other debris to create sludge (ew!). This also includes mayonnaise and salad dressings. A best solution is to collect the used oils in a plastic cover, secure it and dispose it in the trash.
2. Butter and Margarine: Especially when melted, butter and margarine can congeal and build up over time creating water resistant barriers.
3. Grease and Other Fats: Like oils, leftover fats or grease from cooking bacon or other meats can congeal, blocking drains and allowing other debris to cling onto the inside of pipes.
4. Egg Shells: The shells are hard on disposal blades and the membranes can wrap around the grinding apparatus. Once ground, the tiny bits of shell can compound other blockages. Better to compost than toss out.
5. Coffee Grounds: Since they’re not completely water soluble, when grounds mix with oil or grease already coating the pipes, you’ve got a real mess on your hands. Grounds should best be disposed of in the trash or, better yet, composted.
6. Pasta: Noodles will continue to expand with more exposure to water each time you run the faucet and the sticky semolina flour can gum up the pipes or fill the disposal trap.
7. Rice: Rice grains can easily slip down the drain, but once there will absorb more water and swell.
8. Flour: Flour + water = basically glue. You get the picture.
9. Produce Stickers: They fall off easily in the sink while washing, but the plastic and adhesive stickers are rarely water soluble and can block screens and filters in treatment plants down the line.
10. Medication: While there’s no real danger to your drain or pipes per se, the addition of pharmaceuticals into the water is no good for humans or animals. There are programs that let you dispose of unused medicine properly and safely, otherwise they’re best to go into the trash, sealed.
Article originally appeared on Food And Wine.