Most of us don't think twice about flushing a wide range of everyday kitchen and household ingredients down the kitchen sink, but – if you've got blocked drains – this is probably where the issue began. The truth is most sink blockages are preventable, and you could be pouring good money down the drain with your leftovers.
So, before you tip the contents of that plate/ cup/ container into your sink, take a moment to look at these 8 surprising things you should never, ever flush down the drain:
- If you like making cakes, you’ve probably noticed what happens when flour and liquid combine – it’s a sticky, gummy, gloopy mess. And it stays that way when you flush out your mixing bowls in the sink, caking up in your drains and absorbing water. Put it in your rubbish bin or lick the bowl instead.
- Dairy products play havoc with the environment because they need a lot of oxygen to kickstart the degrading process, which means less oxygen for other organisms. Feed them to the cat or add diluted milk to your lemon tree – it will love you for it.
- Coffee grounds. Like flour, coffee grounds coagulate easily, and this is terrible news for your pipes. Unfortunately, most people do flush them down the sink – but they're full of nitrogen, so they're great for plants (watch out for alkaline loving plants though). If in doubt, compost them.
- Product stickers. Supermarket fruit and veggies all seem to have tiny plastic labels on them these days. They might not look like much, but they'll take decades to degrade – and when they get stuck in your pipes, they can cause a blockage over time. If they do manage to get through to the water treatment plant, they'll clog up pumps, hoses, screens and filters. And those that get through these obstacles will end up seeping plastic chemicals into the water. It's a lose-lose situation. Put them in the bin.
- Seeds and grains. All kinds of seeds, nuts and grains end up going down the sink – and that’s a terrible thing because many swell up when they hit water. Drain meet blockage, tout suite.
- You'd think this was a no-brainer, but you should never put poultry, beef or pork bones down your sink (the odd fine fishbone is okay). They rarely disintegrate, so they'll just lodge in your pipes catching all the other drain-blocking ingredients as they go by and making it much more likely you'll need to call a plumber sooner.
- Pasta, pumpkin and rice. Cooked pasta and rice keep absorbing liquid, creating a wad of stodge that takes ages to break down and wash away. As for pumpkin, the sticky, stringy orange fibres tend to ball up, adhering to the sides of your pipes and creating a breeding ground for mould and decay. Compost, people!
- Did you know studies show our natural waterways are full of pharmaceuticals like ibuprofen, antidepressants and birth control? When these get into the water table or animal systems, our food sources are compromised. Most pharmacies will dispose of old medication for you – please, please, please never put it down the sink.