What Do You Do When Someone Pours Oil Down the Sink?

Whether you're frying up a new dish or adding specialty oils to your meal, it's essential that after you finish cooking, you don't pour any extra oil down the sink. If you do, not only will it mess up your pipes, but it can also affect the environment as well. If you need to dispose of oil, there are other ways to get rid of it besides pouring oil down the garbage disposal drain.

Kitchen Sink
credit: Bill Oxford/iStock/GettyImages
Whether you're frying up a new dish or adding specialty oils to your meal, it's essential that after you finish cooking, you don't pour any extra oil down the sink.

Oil Down the Sink

If you aren't certain that there's oil in your sink pipes but you're noticing some issues with the way things are operating, there are a few signs that you can look out for before calling a plumber. If your water is draining slowly, you notice a gurgling sound, there's a bad odor or the sink keeps backing up, then most likely your drain is clogged with grease. If you are aware that you accidentally poured oil down drain pipes, you're going to want to rectify the situation as soon as possible.

The first thing to do is pour hot water down the drain. After that, you will need to pour a mixture of vinegar and baking soda to get rid of the oil down the sink. If your drain has been clogged for quite some time, then you can still follow these instructions. All you have to do is pour hot water down the drain with the baking soda and vinegar mixture. If the drain is super clogged and this doesn't work, you're going to need to put a snake down the drain or call a plumber to fix your sink.

Effects of Oil in Drain

According to La Tourangelle, when you pour oil down the drain, it works its way down the pipes and goes to the local sewer. There it mixes with wastewater and other chemicals. When oils and fats from cooking get into the sewers, they break down into parts of glycerol and fatty acids. The glycerol and fatty acids then bind with calcium, and that creates a compound with a soapy consistency.

According to La Tourangelle, when water levels rise, the blobs of "soap" cling to the ceilings and sides of the pipes, then they build up and become something called "fatbergs." Fatbergs can grow and block sewer lines, and this can cause backups that can affect everyone in your area. Not only can fatbergs mess up your entire neighborhood's systems, but they can also block water treatment processes. This can affect the environment and water supplies.

How to Prevent Clogged Sink

The best way to prevent oil from clogging your sink is to make sure that you dispose of your oil correctly. Let the oil cool down and put it into a sealable container. If you're a coffee drinker, save your empty cans, and you can use these for leftover oil. Another thing you can do is keep your cooking oil, let it build up and then take it to a local organization or facility that accepts oil. These facilities will recycle the oil and turn it into biofuel. You can also reuse cooking oil, as well.

If you can't find anywhere to donate or recycle your oil, then you can dispose of it in the trash. Always make sure to wipe out your pans with a paper towel to soak up all of the excess oil. Even the smallest amount of oil can damage pipes in the long run.


Allanah Dykes

Allanah Dykes is a freelance writer and her work has been featured on Elite Daily, Levo League, Popsugar, Complex, Gurl, The Kitchn, HelloGiggles, Revelist, and Food 52.