Can You Pour Oil and Grease Down the Drain?

Last Updated On June 11, 2024

Updated on January 11, 2023



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Can You Pour Oil and Grease Down the Drain

Are you wondering the best method to dispose of cooking oil and grease at home? The simplest solution seems to be pouring it down the kitchen sink drain, but don’t do that. Sure, it’s convenient but will end up causing trouble for you down the road.

So what are you supposed to do?

Learn more about what happens when you pour grease and oil down the drain and how to properly dispose of cooking grease the right way.

In this PlumbingNav guide, we will cover:

  • Can you pour oil and grease down the drain? 
  • Why pouring oil and grease down the drain is a bad idea
  • I accidentally poured grease down the drain! What happens now?

What's In This Guide?

      Can You Pour Oil Down the Drain?

      You should never pour oil or grease down the drain or garbage disposal. It’s not quite hazardous waste, but it will cool and eventually harden in your system. This build up will settle into your drain pipes requiring a special main drain cleaner down the road.

      We all encounter oil and grease often while cooking in the kitchen. It’s part of home life.

      At times, you may also need to use excess cooking oil or frying oil in certain recipes, especially if you plan to deep fry your food.

      Some people think that liquid cooking oil may be better for your drain, but both vegetable oil and olive oil will also harden as it cools after being cooked. Even if you use hot oil, some will remain in your pipes and eventually harden in time. Dish soap and hot water might resolve your immediate drain, but won’t thoroughly clean the main line.

      Grease is perhaps most common when cooking fatty foods, such as bacon. Bacon grease, in particular, can be bad for your pipes thanks to the high-fat content.

      Side Note-Outside of the kitchen, you may also handle oil when working on your car. If you have motor oil after performing an oil change, you should not pour that oil down a drain to dispose of it, either. (If this applies to you then your mother should spank you.)

      So what should you do with the oil and grease when you’re done cooking?

      Store the oil and fat in a sealable container and dispose of the oil containers such as once full in your garbage instead of pouring it down the drain. You can also use an old milk carton or butter container. Line it with a paper towel to absorb the cooking oil, and put it in the trash after it cools.

      Older generations used to recycle cooking oil, but this doesn’t appeal to most consumers today. Cooking oil such as canola oil has become so inexpensive that most people don’t consider re-use.

      did you know can I pour oil and grease down my drain

      Why Pouring Oil and Grease Down the Drain is a Bad Idea

      Clogged Drain

      One of the main reasons that you don’t pour oil and grease down the drain is because it can eventually cause a drain clog. In fact, excess grease is the primary culprit of sewer pipe overflows and backups.

      The liquid grease solidifies when it cools and sticks to your pipe and accumulates until it causes a blockage. The sticky material can also pick up on food scraps that rinse down your drain, causing an even higher potential for trouble. 

      Not only will a clogged drain cause trouble for your own plumbing system, but it can also affect the city’s water treatment processes.

      Hot water or boiling water can break solidified grease up to a certain extent when used with dish soap, but hot water won’t completely prevent a clog. In fact, it may only cause the clog to travel further down your plumbing system’s drain pipe and into the city’s sewer system.

      Ways to prevent a grease clog (outside of proper disposal) include using a homemade under sink grease trap that collects grease before it goes down the drain and performing regular drain cleaning with natural drain cleaners to prevent a problem before it develops.

      Septic Problems

      Grease can affect the bacteria levels in your septic system, and also create a layer of sludge that won’t easily break down. 

      Your septic system is designed to handle some level of grease and fat, but excess grease levels will overwhelm the system. 

      Generally, you will need to clean your septic tank every 3 – 5 years, but if the natural bacteria levels in your septic tank get out of whack thanks to overwhelming levels of grease and oil, you will need to spend more money on more regular septic tank cleaning, which must be done by a professional.

      It’s cheaper to use proper cooking oil disposal and avoid future problems and expenses.

      I Accidentally Poured Grease Down the Drain! What Happens Now?

      After pouring grease down your drain, you may attempt to break up the material by pouring hot water down the drain mixed with Dawn dish soap. However, you should keep in mind that the hot water may only break up the solid grease temporarily and only move it further down your sewer system.

      Rinsing a pan of leftover oil is generally not a problem, but pouring leftover grease from browning hamburger is a no-no.

      If hot water isn’t resolving the issue, try a homemade drain cleaner mixture of white vinegar and baking soda. Going up a notch, use an enzyme drain cleaner that is designed to eat organic material such as food particles.

      Here is a video demonstrating a DIY method for small grease clogs:

      Now working? You can also try caustic drain cleaners that use harsh chemicals to break up the clog, but those should be used sparingly and always according to the directions to avoid corrosion or other damage to your plumbing. These can be dangerous.

      For the absolute worst clogs, you can use an electric plumbers snake to break the clog up at the source or call a plumber who uses hot jetting. 

      FAQ’s Can I Pour Any Cooking Oil Down the Sink Drain?

      Can I Pour Vegetable Oil Down the Drain?

      No. You cannot pour vegetable oil down the drain. Store excess vegetable oil in a secure container and dispose of it in the garbage.

      Can You Pour Olive Oil Down the Drain?

      You should not pour olive oil down your drain as it will solidify in your drain and cause a clog. 

      Can you Pour a Small Amount of oil down the drain?

      While a small amount of oil down your drain won’t create a problem as quickly as large amounts of oil, you don’t want to develop bad habits. Plus, even small amounts of oil can lead to large problems down the road. 

      Can you pour oil down the drain with hot water?

      No. While hot water may break up grease and oil in the immediate drain, it will only move the blockage further down the sewer line.

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      We write about “all things plumbing,” helping you navigate common questions, repairs, and the best plumbing products on the market.

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