Why You Should Never Pour Grease Down the Drain

Updated December 20, 2021
close up white kitchen counter
Photo: bennnn / Adobe Stock

Highlights

  • Cooking grease can clog your drains.

  • You should avoid pouring grease into your drains, as this can cause problems over time.

  • A better option is pouring it into a mug until it cools and then throwing it into the garbage.

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You probably love treating the family to a delicious Sunday dinner or a nice hot breakfast on a Saturday morning. Unfortunately, though your family might love your cooking, your plumbing pipes aren’t going to appreciate the cooking grease that’s left behind. In fact, grease can do quite a number on your kitchen drains and even on your water and sewer lines. 

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

How Grease Affects Your Plumbing

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. Simply put, it’s just not worth the convenience to pour grease down your kitchen sink. 

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

We’ve all been guilty of having a temporary lapse in judgment and pouring the grease from some freshly cooked burgers down the drain. If this happens once or twice, it’s typically not cause for too much concern. It may help to run some hot water down the drain right after to help reduce the impact.

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.

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

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 call in a plumbing professional to clear the clogs. Pros will have the know-how and the tools to clear the obstruction completely without further damaging your system.

The costs to have a plumber to clear your clogged 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 on average for the service.

Where You Should Pour Grease Instead

By far, the best way to prevent grease clogs and the damage that can result is to minimize the amount of grease that enters your drains in the first place. If you’re dealing with a lot of grease—say from that bacon from breakfast—you’ll want to handle this carefully. The easiest way to dispose of it is to line a cup with foil and carefully pour the grease into the cup, wearing oven mitts and being careful not to burn yourself. 

Once the grease cools and hardens, depending on what it is, you can freeze it and save it for recipes, in the case of bacon fat, or dispose of it in the garbage. 

However, it’s not just about avoiding pouring grease down your drains; you will also want to take care when cleaning your cookware. Before washing your dishes, use a paper towel or spatula to remove accumulated grease and oils and throw these in the trash.

The grease residue that remains on your dishes may wash down your kitchen or dishwasher drains during cleaning, but the amount will be far less with this initial prep work. Whatever small residue accumulates in your drains can, again, usually be cleared by running hot water through your pipes. You may also want to pour vinegar down your drain every month or so, let it sit for 30 minutes, and then rinse it with 2 quarts of hot water. 

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