4 Things That Will Ruin Your Kitchen Sink, According to Pros

No matter what kind of workhorse your sink is, you probably know that there are some things it can’t handle. And while you must rightly be wary of the obvious culprits like bacon fat, there are some surprising ones that you may not know are secretly destroying the plumbing system you rely on day in and day out, says Doyle James, president of Mr. Rooter Plumbing, a neighboring company. Here are four other top culprits who should go in the trash – not down the drain.

You know those little coded stickers on apples, bananas and other fruits and vegetables? They may look harmless, but before you wash your products, it’s important to remove those sticky labels from any item and toss them in the trash. “These product labels are small, but not water-soluble and can potentially cause big problems for your pipes,” says James. These tiny stickers are coated with a super tacky adhesive that can snap into place on the inside of the pipes of your plumbing system. Ultimately, this can create a build-up that can lead to clogged pipes and backups, says James. In addition, they can cause problems in water treatment plants as these tiny stickers can get caught in filters and sieves.

This breakfast favorite may seem like a liquid to wash in the sink, but it deserves a place in the trash. “The danger with oatmeal, both cooked and uncooked, is that they tend to expand when mixed with water,” says James. As the water and moisture in oatmeal evaporate, it becomes more gelatinous and eventually becomes a peanut butter-like consistency, he explains. “Oatmeal can also stick to drain pipe walls, which can shut off the drain completely,” he adds. Once this level is reached, it is very difficult to clear the blockage.

Likewise, it’s best to avoid pouring excess flour into your sink, says James. Don’t worry about some rogue sprinkles though. “While it’s safe to rinse off heavily watered down flour, avoid adding flour-based substances like cake and pancake mixes down your kitchen drain,” explains James. Why? Since flour coagulates when mixed with water, it can coat pipes. Think of it like the arteries in your body – over time, this build-up of muddy substance can create a fuse that is difficult and expensive to remove.

Pouring paint into your sink is bad for two reasons, says Mark Dawson, COO of Benjamin Franklin Plumbing. While occasional brush washes aren’t a problem – especially if you’re using water-based latex paint – you should never throw excess paint into the sink. “This can harden into a mass that can settle to the bottom of the drain line, which can lead to a future potential stagnation area,” says James. Pouring enough water- and oil-based paint into the pipes is also harmful to the environment, he adds. Instead of throwing leftovers in your sink, contact your local plumbing department to find out where to properly dispose of it.

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