Why You Should Never Pour Grease Down the Drain

Mizuki Hisaka
Written by Mizuki Hisaka
Updated May 12, 2023
close up white kitchen counter
Photo: bennnn / Adobe Stock


  • Cooking grease can clog your drains.

  • Avoid pouring grease into your drains since this can cause problems over time.

  • A better option is to pour it into a mug until it cools and then throw it in the garbage.

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You love making your family breakfast on Saturday mornings. Although they might love your cooking, your plumbing pipes may not appreciate the cooking grease left behind. In fact, it can do quite a number on your kitchen drains and even on your water and sewer lines. So, what’s the deal? Can you pour grease down the drain?

We’ll explain why you should never pour grease down your drains and offer tips if you’re already facing those dastardly grease clogs.

What Happens When You Pour Grease Down the Drain 

Cooking grease might make your food taste delicious, but when it goes through your drains and into your water and sewage lines, it can quickly cool and harden into a thick sludge that may completely block your system. And that buildup can lead to blockages and backups not only in your kitchen sink but throughout your home, including your bathtub, bathroom sink, laundry lines, and even your toilet.

Keep in mind that if you damage your pipes extensively, one of the worst-case scenarios is paying for the cost to repipe a house. This can run $7,500 on average. Simply put, pouring grease down your kitchen sink is not worth the temporary convenience.

4 Common Misconceptions About Pouring Grease Down the Drain 

Hot grease can be a nuisance to deal with. And since it’s a liquid, there are a lot of misconceptions about what you can and can’t do. Keep reading to find out common myths about what you can do with grease you want to throw away. 

It’s OK as Long as You Use Hot Water

You might think it’s OK to pour grease down the drain as long as you turn on the hot water at the same time. However, it will still cause problems in your pipes because water and oil don’t mix.

Secondly, the grease that gets trapped in your pipes will eventually cool. And when it cools, it’ll start building up in the pipes. After that, small food debris will stick to the grease, and you’ll likely end up with a clog.

Dish Soap Will Help 

While some dish soaps fight grease, they can’t help keep your pipes clear. This means that even if you pour dish soap in the drain along with your leftover grease, you’ll still end up with a clog sooner or later.

Cooking Oils Are OK to Pour Down the Drain

Never pour cooking oils down the drain. If you have a little left in your pan after cleaning, you can wipe it away with paper towels before washing your pan. Otherwise, dispose of cooking oil the same way you would dispose of grease.

Your Garbage Disposal Will Break It Down

Knowing what not to put in a garbage disposal will help you keep it in good shape and avoid costly repairs. So while your garbage disposal comes in handy for breaking down soft food, you shouldn’t pour any grease into it.

The problem is that the disposal won’t break down the grease, and it’ll end up causing clogs in the pipes. Also, the grease lubricates garbage disposal blades, which means your disposal won’t work as well as it should.

How Long Does It Take for Grease to Clog a Drain?

water going down the drain in the kitchen sink
Photo: akulamatiau / Adobe Stock

We’ve all been guilty of having a temporary lapse in judgment and pouring grease from some freshly cooked burgers down the drain. If this happens once or twice, it’s typically not cause for too much concern.

However, if this becomes a regular occurrence, you can run into big trouble. So don’t make pouring grease down your drain a habit. You should also keep it out of your garbage disposal. 

When you pour grease down the drain, it cools and hardens in your pipes within minutes. If you continue to put grease down your drain, then the grease begins to build up in layers. Not only that, food particles and other debris will begin to stick to the grease, which eventually develops into a clog.

What to Do If Your Drain Gets Clogged

When your system becomes clogged with grease and cooking oils, you may well be looking at some fairly costly repairs. In general, it’s best to pay a local plumber the cost to unclog a drain. Pros will have the know-how and the tools to clear the obstruction completely without further damaging your system. The cost to have a plumber unclog a sink, drains, and lines can vary widely, depending on where you live, how extensive the clog is, and how accessible it is. But you can expect to pay around $250 for the service.

If you’d like to try a DIY solution first, you might consider using liquid drain cleaners. They work best when the clog is minor. For example, a liquid drain cleaner might work for you if you’ve just started noticing that your sink isn’t draining as quickly as it used to. For food-based clogs, an oxidizing drain cleaner is likely your best bet.

How to Dispose of Grease

Now that we’ve covered everything you shouldn’t do with grease, here are the basic steps to get rid of it properly.

1. Let the Grease Dry

The first step is to let the grease sit for at least an hour. Once it cools, you can move on to the next step.

2. Scrape the Grease Into a Separate Container

Find an empty container you can use to throw away the grease. Some good options are glass jars or old cardboard milk cartons. Anything with a tight seal or wax lining works. Pour or scrape the cooled grease into the container and seal it.

 3. Throw It Away in the Garbage 

Once the grease is in the container, you can throw it away in the garbage. To avoid any spilling, you can put the container in a plastic bag before putting it in the trash.

4. Use Paper Towels to Wipe the Rest of the Oil or Grease 

Finally, use some paper towels to sop up any remaining oil or grease from your pots and pans before washing them.

Terri Beth Miller contributed to this piece.

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