4 Hazardous Products You Should Never Pour Down Your Drain

hand dumping medication down sink

While drains make for convenient disposal, some things should never go down them. Wastewater treatment plants can remove a variety of pollutants, but certain contaminants can slip past the treatment facility and harm our waters and living resources. Some chemicals can kill microorganisms and corrosive materials can deteriorate pipes.

Here are four common household products that should be disposed of properly.

Motor Oil

Never, ever pour motor oil down your sink or storm drains. Used motor oil should be kept in an air-tight container. Many auto parts offer a recycling program. Like many other lubricants, motor oil can be harmful to the environment. Not only can motor oil contaminate the soil, but it can also leach into groundwater. Furthermore, you’ll be at a greater risk of experiencing a sewer backup. Because motor oil is not water-soluble, it tends to stick to the walls of your pipes.


Flushed medications end up at a wastewater treatment plant. Unfortunately, these facilities have trouble removing man-made chemicals from the water supply. If the medications are released back into local rivers and lakes, there’s a good chance marine life can be harmed. When exposed to certain medications, studies have shown that fish can experience poor growth and development. Throw them in the trash instead.

Paint Thinners

Paint thinners are extremely corrosive and loaded with chemicals and have absolutely no business in your plumbing system or in storm drains. Take used paint thinner to a hazardous waste disposal site. Even better: recycle it. Save used paint thinner in a jar, allowing the bits of paint and other bits to sink to the bottom. Then pour the clear thinner into a second jar and reseal it for later.


Once pesticides exit your sewer line, local ecosystems are immediately put at risk. If your home has an underground septic tank, the pesticides can harm the system by destroying good bacteria. You may need to replace your septic tank much sooner than expected. Your best option is to take leftover pesticides to a hazardous-waste collection site.

Bottom line: This is by no means a complete list of drain no-gos. Basically, if it’s hazardous, don’t wash it down your sink or flush it. This includes corrosive chemical drain cleaners, which don’t do your plumbing system any favors. If you run into any plumbing complications, depend on Aztec Plumbing & Drains at 239-932-2959.

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