Skip to Content

Should You Pour Cooking Oil Down the Kitchen Sink?

People often pour the oil they used for cooking down the disposal or drain and run some hot water, thinking it’ll easily flush out.

The right oil is essential in cooking, but you might want to skip pouring it down your drain.

We discovered many reasons why we shouldn’t put oil through our pipes and how to clear them if we do.

Let’s dig in!

Is It Safe to Put Cooking Oil in a Sink? 

Before deciding if you should pour oil down the sink, let’s find out if it’s safe. And why would you even consider it in the first place?

Ease of ridding yourself of that nasty used oil is one reason. Think about it. You’re cooking bacon or fried chicken. The meal was fantastic. Now, you get to clean it up. It seems easy enough to wash it down the drain along with all the other waste material. Just turn on the garbage disposal, and voila! Gone!

But just because it’s out of sight doesn’t mean it’s safe to dump cooking oil down your kitchen sink. In fact, in the long run, doing so can damage the pipes. Not only that, but it can also harm the environment and the water supply.

What Happens If You Pour Oil Down the Sink?

Wondering how that happens? The cooking oil may be gone from the sink bowl, and the majority may also be out of the pipes. But some of that oily substance sticks around as it travels through the lines.

When it reaches the local sewer, it mixes with everything else. The combination of all the sewer waste causes a breakdown of the chemicals. The resulting glycerol and fatty acids bind with other chemicals creating blockages known as fatbergs. 

Fatbergs have a soapy, slimy consistency, and they build up over time. These can cause blockages resulting in sewage backing up into drains. And not just your drains but others on the same sewage system.

Chef using cooking oil to make meal
It is best to avoid pouring cooking oil down the sink.

Does Oil Ruin the Drain?

So, it’s unsafe to pour used kitchen oil down the drain. Plus, it can also cause severe damage to pipes, the sewage system, water, and the drain itself. 

It may be easy to dispose of oil down the drain since it’s in a liquid state when hot. However, as the oil cools, it hardens. And even though you may no longer see it, it’s solidifying inside your drain and clinging to your pipes before reaching the sewer system. 

Continue to pour hot grease down the drain, and you’ll continue to trim your pipeline, blocking it with fatty materials. At the very least, you’ll need a plumber. At the most, you’ll need an entirely new set of pipes. Not only will oil ruin your drain, but it will also ruin your day and your wallet.

Pro Tip: On the hunt for some cool kitchen tips and tricks? Use this Easy Way To Store Potatoes for Months.

How Do You Dispose of Cooking Oil? 

Now that you know ridding your kitchen of cooking oil can come at a steep price by pouring it down the drain, you need another way of disposing of it. 

One option is to pour it into a sealable container and put it in the trash. Be sure to wipe out any pan residue with a paper towel. Even small amounts of oil can clog drains. This is probably the easiest way to get rid of cooking oil, but it’s not the most eco-friendly. 

Alternatively, you can recycle cooking oil at a local recycling center. There, it will be turned into biodiesel fuel used in cars and trucks. Finally, you can also compost cooking oil. This is an excellent option if you have your own compost bin.

But be aware. You can only use vegetable oils, and in small amounts, in the composting bin. Using too much and the wrong kind will slow down the process.

You could also not get rid of it all, at least temporarily. Once the oil cools, store it in a reusable container and use it again. The oils have picked up the flavors of the food and can give the next batch of culinary delights flavors from the previous cook.

For optimum flavor, store the used oil in a dark place and only use it once or twice more in the next few days after its original use. Now that’s cooking ingenuity.

Cooking oil being poured into bowl
Cooking oil, coffee grinds, egg shells, and more can clog your kitchen sink.

What Else Should You Never Put Down the Drain?

Cooking oil should never go down the drain. You get that now. But other items can clog your pipes as well.

Coffee grounds and eggshells are common culprits. Coffee grounds mix easily with other materials already stuck on the pipes. Eggshells are hard on the grinder in the garbage disposal, but the membranes can also get caught in the mechanism.

Pasta, rice, and flour are other common foods that have no place in the drain. They soak up water and can easily cause blockages. 

Even those tiny little produce stickers can cause problems, as they’re not water-soluble. Medications should also be kept out of the drain, as they can pollute waterways.

And, of course, bacon grease and other cooking fats should always be disposed of in the trash, not the sink. They behave just like cooking oil.

Pro Tip: Don’t get stuck struggling to peel your eggs. This is The Secret to Easy-Peel Hard Boiled Eggs.

What To Do If I Accidentally Pour Oil Down the Drain? 

Being the rule follower that we know you are, cooking oil and the other substances mentioned will never enter your drain again. But accidents happen. And when you accidentally pour cooking oil down the drain, there’s no need for panic. You can remedy the problem and keep your rule-follower status intact.

All you need is some baking soda, white vinegar, and boiling water. Take a half cup of baking soda and pour it down the sink. Immediately follow the baking soda with a small amount of white vinegar. It will fizz quite nicely.

Cover the sink for about 10 minutes. Uncover and then carefully pour a full kettle of boiling water down the drain. These all work together to prevent any possible clogging from your accidental clean-up.

Just Don’t Do It

In the long run, prevention is the best way to stop any clogging from occurring when it comes to cooking oil. So the next time you clean up after dinner, think twice before pouring anything down the drain. Your pipes will thank you!

Discover the Best Free Camping Across the USA

To be honest with you, we hate paying for camping. There are so many free campsites in America (with complete privacy).

You should give it a try!

As a matter of fact, these free campsites are yours. Every time you pay federal taxes, you’re contributing to these lands.

Become a FREE CAMPING INSIDER and join the 100,000 campers that love to score the best site! 

We’ll send you the 50 Best Free Campsites in the USA (one per state). Access the list by submitting your email below: