In the Kitchen
In the city of Tulsa, cooking grease is one of the major causes of residential pipeline and City sewer blockages. The spilled sewage eventually reaches Oklahoma streams and rivers, causing unsafe conditions.
By following a few simple steps, you can help prevent costly sewage overflows in the future.
All fats, oils and grease should be poured into a coffee can, or other durable container, and disposed of in the trash can, not down the drain.
Dishes and pots that are coated with greasy leftovers, should be wiped clean with a paper towel before washing or placing in the dishwasher. Toss the paper towel in the trash can.
Scrape all scraps into the trash. Don't put any scraps in the garbage disposal. Dispose of them in the trash can or compost.
Cooking grease coats pipelines in a way similar to the way that fatty foods clog human arteries. The grease clings to the inside of the pipe, eventually causing complete blockage.
Grease should NEVER be poured down the drain. Running hot water and pouring detergent down the drain only breaks up grease temporarily. As the grease moves through the pipe, it separates from the water and begins to coat the pipe.
Flushing grease down the toilet also causes sewer blockages.
Many foods are sources of fat that, with grease, can clog pipes:
Butter is 80% fat
Ranch Dressing is 50% fat
Mayonnaise is 30% fat
Alfredo Sauce is 20% fat
An Avacado is 10% fat
Ice Cream is 10% fat
Whole Milk is 4% fat
You can recycle cooking or frying oil at the:
Household Pollutant Collection Facility (Learn more)
4502 S. Galveston Ave
Wednesdays & Saturdays, 8 - 11:30 a.m., Noon - 4:30
or at one of these Tulsa M.e.t. locations:
3495 S. Sheridan | 9:30 a.m. - 1:30 p.m. daily
12466 E. 21st St. | Monday- Sunday | 9:30 a.m. - 1:30 p.m. daily
1101 S. Cincinnati | 9 a.m. - Noon
To ensure that your pipes stay clog-free, here are the 16 items you should truly avoid flushing down the toilet.
Baby Wipes and Flushable Wipes
This is important. Even if they say they are flushable, never flush baby wipes. These are frequently the cause of clogs and should always be thrown out in a wastebasket instead. Even "flushable" wipes don't disintegrate the way toilet paper does, which can eventually cause plumbing issues.
Q-Tips, Cotton Pads or Other Cotton Products
Cotton balls, cotton pads, and Q-Tips are not safe to flush — they don't break down the way toilet paper does, and all they really do is clump together in your pipes and cause problems down the line.
Feminine Hygiene Products
This one might shock you, but menstrual products (tampons, pads, etc.) should never be flushed down the toilet. Why? These products are meant to absorb water, not break down in it, meaning they'll only expand when you flush them — and that's not good for your plumbing.
Condoms are not designed to break down in the water, so flushing them can cause clogs in toilets and septic tanks.
Just like menstrual products, diapers are meant to absorb water. Diapers don’t break down in water and can lead to costly damages to your system. Dispose of all diapers in a diaper pail.
In addition to clogging your pipes, flushing dental floss can cause environmental damage. When floss is flushed, floss basically turns into a net, catching and holding onto other debris — it can even wrap around parts of your septic system and burn out the motor.
Paper Towels and Tissues
You might think paper towels and tissues aren't all that different from toilet paper, but they're simply not designed to break down the way toilet paper does. If you need to use paper towels or tissues in place of toilet paper, dispose of them in a waste basket.
If you have old pills that you need to get rid of, don't flush the pills — toilet water doesn't break them down properly, meaning the medication gets into the water and can cause toxic environmental effects.
In addition to causing clogs, cigarette butts are made of toxic chemicals, and that's exactly what flushing cigarettes down the drain adds to the water.
Some brands of cat litter claim to be flushable, however, most toilets don't use enough water to move the litter along properly in your pipes. Even if the brand claims it’s flushable, don’t flush cat litter down the toilet. All it does is add more things to the water that make it harder to purify. Cat waste from the litter box should also not be flushed, because the litter dehydrates the waste and toilets are meant to flush water-soluble waste.
Like dental floss, hair forms a sort of net when you flush it down the drain and gets caught in your pipes. Additionally, hair never dissolves so it creates more risk for clogging your system.
Flushing gum down the toilet is a big mistake, as it’s sticky and insoluble. Being sticky, this leads to increased risk of clogging your pipes. Since it’s insoluble, gum will never disintegrate causing major risk for potential issues to your system down the line.
Just like you shouldn’t put cooking grease down the drain, you should never flush grease. When grease cools, it congeals which makes it thicker and leads to risk in clogging your pipes.
Although you’ve probably heard of people flushing a deceased pet fish, this isn’t a good idea. Fish don’t break down in water, which leads to increased risk of creating a clog. Rather than flushing your deceased fish, consider a proper burial.
This might surprise you because human waste is basically just broken-down food anyway, but flushing food that hasn't been digested can cause problems for your plumbing, too. While it's biodegradable and will break down eventually, it can cause clogs until that happens.
This may be the most surprising item as all, as you’re probably used to cleaning with bleach. Bleach is way too harsh of a chemical for your toilet and septic system. Rather than focusing on cleaning stains with bleach, you may want to consider using vinegar instead.
If you see, hear or smell something you think might be a sewer overflow, report it immediately by calling (918) 586-6999. Be prepared to describe the location.
PACE provides free prevention training, public outreach, and technical assistance to those who have made the PACE pledge. PACE is a voluntary program which recognizes those who go above and beyond environmental regulations. Please visit PACE online.
For more information on the Grease Program for Businesses, contact Damon Morris (918) 591-4381 or email.
* Flushing pills down the toilet can be a water quality issue because wastewater treatment plants are not equipped or designed to remove pharmaceuticals from the wastewater. Those medications could affect the environment and endanger public health. What happens to chemicals, waste and prescription medications when they leave your home in the water? They don’t just vanish when they are out of your sight. Instead, they can enter the streams and water through wastewater discharges. One study from the U.S. Geological Survey used samples from 139 streams across 30 states in 2000 to examine what was entering them. One of the most surprising results of the study was that steroids, nonprescription drugs and insect repellant were the chemical groups found most frequently.