Thanksgiving is fast approaching this year, with grocery stores already stocking up on turkeys. Millions of people in the United States celebrate this holiday by preparing a massive feast to feed the whole family. With delicious food and lively banter, it can be easy to forget about the huge mess waiting for you in the kitchen. Accidentally flushing down food items could have devastating effects on your plumbing. Here are a few of the Thanksgiving foods you should never put down the sink.

Any Bones

Even with a garbage disposal, it’s not safe to put turkey or ham bones down your sink. After being cooked, bones become brittle and sharp. Your disposal’s impellers won’t be able to entirely break the bones down and may instead become dull. Depending on the number of bones you try to ground up, the impellers may even snap and need to be replaced. Bone shards and pieces will wind up in your plumbing, accumulating in low areas.

You should never put dense items like bones into your garbage disposal or plumbing. Turkey and ham meat should also either be saved for later or properly disposed of in the trash. Consider using your turkey bones to make stock or putting them in your composter. You can always throw away the turkey carcass and bones after everything has cooled down.

Starchy Foods

Starchy food items like pasta, rice, and potatoes will expand when exposed to water. What you might think is a small amount of food could actually be much more. These foods become incredibly hazardous at the bends of your plumbing when they accumulate and block the flow of water. Even potato peels shouldn’t be put in your garbage disposal as they can create a sticky paste when ground up. Most starches can safely be added to your compost pile. Limit your overall food waste by utilizing leftover pasta dishes, peels, and other food items in various recipes.


While you’re cooking your delicious pies and biscuits, make sure no flour makes its way into your sink. This staple kitchen ingredient creates a sticky, clumpy mess when added to water. Trying to wash it down will only worsen the issue, creating a clog deep within your drain. No one wants to deal with a plumbing emergency on Thanksgiving. When you’re preparing your signature dishes this holiday, be sure to keep your bag of flour and mixing bowl safely away from the sink. If an accident happens, scoop out as much of the flour as possible from your sink and drain before rinsing the rest with dish soap.

Corncobs, Onions, Celery

Foods with fibrous qualities, such as onions, corncobs, and celery, could wreak havoc on your garbage disposal. While they may seem soft and pliable, their sturdy strands are hard to snap. As they’re shredded, their fibers will wrap around the disposal’s impellers. This impacts the efficiency of the appliance and allows other food to be caught in the net. Once these fibers make it into your plumbing, they can get stuck at pipe joints and bends. Throwing these items away is much safer than risking future plumbing clogs and damage.


You’ve likely put eggshells down your sink before and had no issues. You may have even heard that eggshells can sharpen the disposal’s “blades,” making it work better in the future. While a few eggshells likely won’t hurt your plumbing, they can cause problems in high enough quantities. Eggshells are not recommended for your garbage disposal because of their internal membranes. Your sink disposal uses blunt impellers to crush food and make it safe to flush down the pipes. These membranes can wrap around the impellers, causing damage to the disposal. Once they’re stuck, they can create unpleasant odors and attract kitchen pests like drain flies.

Cooking Oil

Never flush oils down your sink, no matter the holiday. Oil and water don’t mix, allowing issues like fatbergs to develop along your plumbing lines. As these cooking oils travel through your pipes, they grab onto nearby foods, hair, and other oils. These clogs can grow bigger over time, impacting your home’s regular sewer system. If wastewater can’t be safely removed, there’s a possibility it will back up into your home. Cooking oil could even cause serious plumbing issues for your neighbors and the local sewage treatment plant.

If you’re looking for ways to safely throw away cooking oil, consider freezing it before tossing it out. You could also strain out the food solids and reuse the oil again in the future. Another great option is searching for the closest oil recycling company in your city.

Animal Fats

Grease and animal fats can do just as much damage to your plumbing as cooking oil. Even if you flush down the grease with hot water and dish soap, it can still linger in your plumbing. Once the grease or fat has settled in your pipes, it’ll harden and grab onto other food items. Sticky grease can coat the inside of your plumbing lines, making it harder for wastewater to efficiently travel out of the home.

It’s best not to handle any animal fats while they’re still hot. Once they harden, you can easily scoop them out of the pan and right into the trash. Many of these fats can also be frozen and stored for use in future dishes.

Non-Food Items

Your plumbing is not equipped to handle any non-food items, such as small pieces of plastic, cigarette butts, metal, or glass. With so many people in your home during the holidays, it’s easy for plumbing accidents to happen. It’s best to supervise all young children when they’re around your sinks and toilets. Strategically place small trash cans near your sinks to ensure guests have a proper place for small waste items. Strive to limit the number of people allowed in your kitchen at one time.

Holiday Plumbing Safety

Plumbing companies often see a huge spike in emergency calls the weekend after Thanksgiving. Many of these calls are caused by improper food disposal habits in the kitchen. Protect your family and your property from plumbing problems by throwing your food waste in the trash. Be mindful of how often your kitchen sink and garbage disposal are being used this holiday. If you’re not sure if an item is safe for your sink, it’s better not to risk it and just throw it away.

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High 5 Plumbing, Heating & Cooling is a reliable residential plumbing company in Denver, CO. Our community-oriented team strives to keep our lines of communication open throughout our service process. We’re a BBB-accredited company that’s been recognized with the HomeAdvisor Best of 2020 Award. Trust us to check your drains for clogs, install new sewer lines, or service your water heater. Our experienced plumbers can work on any plumbing issue in your kitchen or bathroom. Become a member of our High 5 Club for amazing discounts, 24/emergency repair service, and a free yearly home inspection. Contact High 5 Plumbing, Heating & Cooling today for more information about our premium services in Denver.

Heather Ripley

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