You pour leftover drinks, soup, sauces and other liquids down your plughole, so disposing of hot oil in the same way might seem like the most obvious thing to do.
But fats can cause serious problems for your plumbing and shouldn’t be going anywhere near your sink.
Oils and fats eventually congeal, building up in your pipes, causing blockages.
You might have heard of the huge fatbergs building up in our waste system when flushed non-biodegradable solids like wet wipes and congealed fat combine.
And it can be costly to put right.
Steve Vincent, Head of Operations at Plumbers4U explains: ‘There are many common misconceptions around how to properly dispose of hot cooking oil and with the average call-out for a plumber sitting around £40-£60 per hour, it pays to be careful with how you get rid of it.
‘The reality is you should avoid pouring oil down your sink.
‘Fat deposits can also contribute to blockages that lead to sewage back-ups and flooding, which can cause serious damage to your home.
‘Scolding-hot cooking oil can damage plastic piping by eroding away the inside if it’s exposed to it frequently.’
Small amounts, for example, a spoonful leftover in a frying pan can be scraped straight into your general waste once it cools.
Get as much oil as you can off before putting it in the washing up, as even oil in dirty dishwater can cause problems.
Don’t try to put it the bin when very hot as it might melt your bin bag, causing a mess.
If you’ve been deep frying, pouring it straight into the waste isn’t the best idea.
Steve adds: ‘A common misconception is you can simply wash away hot oil by mixing it in with hot water and soap. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case. Because oil is far denser than water and doesn’t mix well, it can still cool in the pipes, leading to the same build-ups of fat and grime.
Thames Water adds that using soap might actually make the problem worse.
It says: ‘If you’ve blocked your drain, crossed fingers and a squirt of washing-up liquid won’t clear it.
‘The soap may actually harden in your pipes, sticking to other items and adding to the problem.’
Instead, it’s useful to keep old jars or takeaway containers for collecting used oil. It’s best to use something with a lid so it doesn’t spill out and cause a mess in your bin.
‘Cooking oil and fat should be disposed of in a food bin or general waste,’ Steve says. ‘It’s recommended you put it into a glass or ceramic container, let it cool, and pour it into the bin or food waste container.’
You can add the fat over time and then throw the item away once it’s full. Fats like butter which become solid when they cool will do so quicker in the fridge or freezer.
Some councils also allow you to add small amounts of fat to your food waste bin but it’s best to check online to see what you can do.
If you do find that the fat is blocking your drains, you may be able to unblock it yourself using a plunger but don’t keep throwing things down there,
Steve says: ‘Should the worst happen, and you do end up with a blockage, a plunger is a cheap and effective way of unclogging your sink.
‘To get the best results, place the head of the plunger directly covering the drain, pressing down gently to create an air-tight seal before applying any force.
‘For stubborn blockages, and to prevent doing more harm than good, you should look to call a professional. Plumbers have the right tools and know-how to deal with a blockage easily, and not run the risk of creating further problems.’
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