With the onset of COVID-19 “shelter in place” orders, many of us have become much more acquainted with our kitchens, cooking meals and eating at home. But unless we pay attention to what we are putting down our kitchen drains, we may have more problems than simply eating our own cooking.

Here are five common clog-causing foods and materials you should never put into your kitchen drain.

Food Scraps – Food scraps in general settle in the pipe below the sink. As more food flows into the drain, it catches on the previous scraps until a smelly mass clogs the drain. Never wash food scraps into your kitchen sink unless you are using a garbage disposal, and avoid putting unfriendly items into the disposal as noted below.

Fat, Oil, Grease (F.O.G.) – You may pour these particular food items down the drain in liquid form, but they quickly solidify, coating and clogging your kitchen drain pipe. Keep a disposable container near the sink and pour F.O.G. into the container. Let the liquid congeal and dispose of it properly.

Coffee grounds, eggshells, pasta, rice – Not only your kitchen sink, but your garbage disposal will balk at these clog-forming foods. Grounds and eggshells do not rinse well through your disposal, and pasta and rice turn into soggy messes when introduced to liquid. Keep a separate compost container near the sink for these items.

Debris – It’s so tempting to just drop those little stickers found on your newly purchased produce or stuck to a new mug into the sink. You conscientiously wash the labels off your jars before putting the containers in the recycle bin and let the wet pieces of paper slide down the drain. But those pieces of paper can catch on buildup in the pipe until an ugly clog forms.

Liquid drain cleaners – Does it surprise you to know many liquid drain cleaners are not good for your kitchen sink? Many of these products contain harsh chemicals that can corrode your pipes. In addition, these cleaners often kill the good bacteria living in your system, the bacteria that destroy organic matter and help prevent clogs. 

As you spend more time in the kitchen during these unusual days, pay close attention to the things that can cause clogs in your kitchen drain. If a serious clog occurs, contact a licensed plumber to safely remove the clog without damaging your plumbing system.