Household Waste: Fats, Rags, Oil & Grease

Sewers back up when sewage collection lines get clogged by items flushed down toilets and drains, especially Fats, Rags, Oil and Grease that get caught and plug up the lines. In addition to the costly repairs, sewer back-ups are messy, foul-smelling and pose a serious public health threat. 

Such items disposed of down the toilet or drain can clog sewer collection systems, damage pumps in lift stations and damage sewer treatments facilities, which leads to sewage spills. These items also can contaminate the treated water that is discharged into the rivers, streams and groundwater.

Never flush the following items down the toilet or drain:

  • Disposable diapers and baby wipes; facial wipes; rags; cleaning or polishing wipes for plastic, wood, floors and glass; cat litter, including “flushable” cat litter; paper towels; wipes; and feminine napkins, tampons or applicators.
  • Cooking oil and grease, including cooking oil, bacon grease, meat fats, food scraps, shortening, lard, butter, margarine, gravy and other food products such as mayonnaise, salad dressings and sour cream.
  • Acidic or toxic substances, including paint and paint thinners.
  • Motor oil.
  • Dye (hair and clothing) and tanning solutions.
  • Anything radioactive.
  • Flammable products, such as lighter fluid and acetone.
  • Any solid waste that does not naturally break down, including garbage, plastic bags and cigarette butts.

Proper Disposal Tips

  • Throw bulky waste materials in trash.
  • Freeze small amounts of fats, oils and grease in a container with a tight-sealing lid and dispose of in trash.
  • Mix oil with an absorbent material such as coffee grounds, place in a tightly sealed container and dispose of in trash. 
  • Use a strainer in your sink to catch scraps.
  • Cover drains with fine screen or catch basket.
When fats, oil or grease are poured down kitchen drains or flushed down toilets, it accumulates inside sewer pipes. As the material builds up, it restricts the flow in the pipes and can cause untreated wastewater to back up into homes and businesses, resulting in high cleanup and repair costs for residents, business owners and towns. Communities spend a huge amount of money every year unplugging or replacing grease-blocked pipes, repairing pump stations and cleaning up costly and illegal wastewater spills. Keeping FROG out of the sewer system helps everyone in the community.