Pouring Grease Down the Drain with Hot Water is Okay (and 3 Other Myths)

Pouring Grease Down the Drain with Hot Water is Okay (and 3 Other Myths)

Between cooking your Thanksgiving turkey, bacon-wrapped asparagus, casseroles and other yummy dishes, the holidays give you a lot of grease to dispose of.

With a more grease than usual to get rid of, you may not be prepared for how to deal with the slimy mess. Thanksgiving only comes once a year. Maybe just this once you’ll dump it all down the kitchen sink and forget about it.

Is pouring grease down the drain really all that bad? What if you run hot water while you do it to keep it from congealing? Maybe a dash of dish soap can chase it down and be just enough for the grease to not get stuck. After all, once it’s gone, you’ll have nothing to worry about, right?

Let’s be Clear, Never Pour Grease Down a Drain

What tricks many people about grease is that, while you’re cooking with it, it’s a liquid. At higher than room temperatures, grease liquefies. And what do you do with liquid waste? Well, you pour it down the drain of course!

The problem is that as soon as the grease cools, it congeals and plugs up your pipes. Over time, your drains will run slower and slower until they get clogged enough to wreak havoc. So let's debunk these four greasy myths about how to deal with grease.

Myth #1: It’s okay with hot water:

False. The problem with fatty waste is that it will eventually congeal at room temperature. Even the hottest water will not be able to keep the grease warm forever and fatty residue will still coat the inside of your pipes, trapping other food particles.

What’s worse, fats are less dense than water and hydrophobic (meaning grease and water don’t mix). Between floating to the top of any liquid and refusing to dissolve, fats effectually do everything they can to fight being flushed down the drain.

Myth #2: Dish soap will do the trick:

False. While it is true that dish soaps can break down fats temporarily, it’s not going to be enough to counteract the ill effects of grease forever. The companies who formulate dish soap intend for their products to clean your dishes not your drains. Otherwise, we can assume they would be smart enough to slap a new label on it and sell it as a easy solution to your grease disposal needs. If they know and are willing to admit it can't do that, we shouldn't kid ourselves either.

Myth #3: Cooking oils that are liquid at room temperature are okay:

False. While fats that are solid at room temperature pose the largest risk to the health of your pipes, canola and olive oil still cause issues. They are also hydrophobic, making it difficult to wash them out. As they coat the inside of your plumbing, food particles stick to the walls and gum up the whole operation.

Myth #4: But I have a garbage disposal:

False. The garbage disposal will not change the how grease behaves once it finds its home in your pipes. Furthermore, it made it onto the top of our list of foods to avoid putting in your garbage disposal and #5 on our list of don'ts for your garbage disposal.

How to Properly Dispose of Grease

Pour all of the grease, fats, and cooking oils in a disposable container; from the Thanksgiving or Christmas turkey, from the fried green beans, or from sauteed red skin potatoes. An empty margarine container works great for this. Then, wipe down all oily dishes with a paper towel and throw it away.

Once all of the cooking, eating, and cleaning has been done for the day, tuck the grease container in the freezer. Maybe include a note that says “not ice cream” just to be safe. The following day, you can place the container in the trash. You won't have to worry about making a mess in your trash bin or clogging up your pipes.

Here at Mike Wilson Plumbing, we want you to keep your drains running smoothly. We hope you take these tips and properly dispose of your fatty waste. But if you have any questions or a plumbing emergency this holiday season, call Mike Wilson Plumbing at (804) 641-6570.