How to Prevent Clogged Drains

A clogged drain is always a nuisance, and sometimes expensive if you have to bring in a plumber. Fortunately, there are some simple preventative measures you can take to keep the drains in your home running smoothly and clog-free.

Preventing Clogs

Kitchen Sinks

  1. Don’t pour fats, oils, or cooking grease down your kitchen sink. Even if they go down in a liquid state, they’ll turn into a solid mass as they cool. These cooled substances create a sticky sediment in the pipe that traps other food, eventually forming a clog. You can safely dispose of fats, oils, and grease (known as FOG) by pouring them into a sealed jar or old coffee can and throwing the container into the garbage.

  2. Don’t dump coffee grounds or food scraps down the kitchen drain. Put leftover coffee grounds into a mulch pile, or into your compost or trash with other leftover food.

    If you don’t have your own compost, many cities and towns now run composting programs, and either collect organic waste themselves or form partnerships with private haulers and composting facilities. As well, some community gardens and garden co-ops accept food scrap donations for their composting.

  3. Use a mesh strainer in your sink to prevent food from going down the drain.

  4. For sinks with garbage disposals, avoid putting in common troublemakers that don’t grind well, such as banana peels, coffee grounds, eggshells, and fruit and vegetable peels. Also, don’t put greasy food scraps in the disposal that will clog both the disposal and the drain. 

When using your disposal, always run a steady stream of cold water to fully carry waste material through the drainage system. Continue running the water for 10-15 seconds after you’ve finished grinding.

Bathroom Sinks

  1. Toothpaste is a big culprit in clogging bathroom sinks. To prevent toothpaste clogs, run hot water after brushing your teeth to dissolve the water soluble materials in toothpaste that have gone down the drain.

  2. Hair and soap scum are also big contributors to clogs. A mesh screen will catch these before they enter the drain. If you use a pop-up stopper in your bathroom sink, there are some available with removable strainers for catching hair and other residue.

Bathtub and Shower Drains

  1. Use a mesh or other type of screen over the bathtub drain to catch hair and soap scum. If your tub drain has a pop-up stopper assembly, you have the option of replacing it with one that has a built-in screen.

  2. Drain cover screens are available in different materials (e.g. stainless steel, silicone) for shower stall flat drains, but they’re not compatible with every style of drain cover. You can install some screens below the drain cover if the style and size match up.

  3. When bathing pets in the bathtub, place a washcloth over the drain. Dogs in particular shed so much hair that a regular drain catcher will get clogged. A washtub is an alternative to using the bathtub, and you can empty the water outside. If possible, bathe pets outside in the warmer weather.


  1. The only thing you should be flushing other than human waste is toilet paper. Don’t flush such items as cat litter (even “flushable” litter), personal care products, dental floss, tissues, or “flushable” wipes.

  2. Don’t use excess toilet paper as it can clog the toilet and/or the drain pipe.  

Utility Tubs and Basement Drains

  1. If you drain your washing machine into a utility tub, install a lint catcher on the end of the drain hose. This prevents lint, facial tissues, pieces of fabric, and even the odd sock from clogging up the utility tub’s drain. You can buy mesh lint traps or use an old nylon stocking. A zip tie will secure the trap. Empty the lint trap when it’s full and replace as needed.

  2. Never rinse grout, setting-type joint compound, mortar mix, or concrete down utility tub or basement drains. You’ll get drain clogs very difficult to remove. Instead, put the rinse water in a container, and allow the solid materials to settle out. Then pour the water into a corner of your yard and dump the remaining gunk from the bottom of the container into the garbage can.

  3. Don’t pour paint into basement or utility tub drains (or any drain). The paint can harden over other debris in the pipes and narrow the passage, causing materials to build up and clog the drain.

Keep Your Drains Clean

The following cleaning methods will keep your various drains clean and prevent clogs:

  • Pour a kettle of hot water down the kitchen drain once a week. This will melt away any fat and grease that has collected inside the pipes. If the drain is running slowly, pour 1/2 cup of salt down first, followed by the hot kettle water. Then flush with hot tap water. You may have to do this several times to get the drain running more freely.
  • Clean garbage disposals with a sturdy disposal brush or grind up a few ice cubes and some table salt. The ice and salt will help remove grease from the sides of the disposal. Then run cold water to flush it out, followed by half a lemon or lime.
  • Pour a cup of vinegar down drains and leave for 30 minutes. Follow it with very hot water. Vinegar removes organic build-up in pipes.
  • Put a handful of baking soda into your drains, followed by hot water. Baking soda will not only clean your drain pipes, but it will also absorb odors.
  • Use a bacterial drain and trap cleaner to break down organic material in pipes. This type of cleaner is biodegradable and non-corrosive, and won’t hurt drain pipes or interfere with bacteria in septic systems. Use it once a month just before bedtime to give it time to work overnight.
  • Once a week, remove the pop-up stopper from bathroom sinks and clean away any hair and debris. Rinse it thoroughly and put it back. Also do this if the sink is draining slowly.
  • Remove the tub stopper once a week, clean it and rinse it well. Use a hair-catching drain brush to remove any hair and debris you can find in the drain before replacing the stopper. For stoppers with the built-in screens, empty the screen, and clean off the stopper.
  • Fill your bathroom sink and bathtub with hot water once a week, then let the water out to flush the drains.
  • If you’ve installed a screen below a shower stall drain cover, remove the cover and clean the screen every day or two.
  • For shower stall drains without screens, regularly use a hair-catching and drain-cleaning brush or similar tool to fish out hair and other debris from the drain. 
  • Low-flow toilets don’t carry away waste very well. If you have one, flush the pipes with a large flow of water every so often. Fill a five-gallon bucket and pour it into the toilet. This should help keep the main drain line clog-free.

For repairs and maintenance to all your major appliances, you can count on the pros at C&W Appliance Service.  Call us at (855) 358-1496 or submit our online service request form for prompt service.


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