If your grandma kept a can of bacon grease under her sink, she was on to something. Allowing grease to go down the drain - either in liquid form or in fatty foods thrown down the garbage disposal - can create big problems down the line. Unfortunately, many people learn this lesson the hard way: after a big mess and a hefty bill from the plumber.
Taking good care of your drains and plumbing can prevent costly, inconvenient plumbing problems. But when it comes to everyday drain maintenance, conventional wisdom isn't always wise. Here are a few common misconceptions about what can and can't go down the drain:
Myth: Washing Grease down with Soap & Hot Water Is Enough to Prevent a Clog
Fact: While rinsing with soap and hot water may make your drain shine, it doesn't eliminate grease from your plumbing system. Just as cholesterol clogs human arteries slowly over time, leading to a heart attack, any grease you're washing down the drain doesn't simply disappear - no matter how much soap you chase it with. Eventually, it cools down and the grease separates from the soap and water, coating the inside of your pipes as it hardens. Over time, that coating grows thicker and thicker, until one day no water can pass through. Then, it backs up into your home, or, if the clog is further down the line, into your neighbor's house.
Myth: Garbage Disposals Chop up Greasy Foods into Such Small Pieces, They Won't Cause Any Problems
Fact: The smaller the pieces, the likelier a clog. Think of it this way: If you've got a wide pipe full of golf balls, you can still run water through them. But pack that pipe with sand, and you've got yourself a clogged pipe. When you chop greasy food into small pieces with a garbage disposal, the food will decompose more quickly, releasing grease faster to coat the inside of your pipes.
This is why it's best to throw fatty foods into the trash can, pour hot grease into a can or the trash - never down the drain - and wipe greasy dishes with a paper towel before washing them in the sink or dishwasher.