Here’s what you can—and can’t—put down the drain this Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving Day is a time for celebration, reflection, and family. Whether you’re hosting a large get-together or just spending time with your closest loved ones, there’s something special about Thanksgiving. While you’re relaxing in a turkey-induced coma watching football, however, our plumbers are hard at work. Thanksgiving Day is actually one of the busiest days of the year for our plumbers and, when you stop and think about it, it’s not hard to see why. With home kitchens busier than ever, drains are more likely to clog and backup.

For our sake—and yours!—let’s work to prevent plumbing mishaps this holiday season. In this article, we’ll break down exactly what you can and can’t put down the drain when cooking on Thanksgiving Day. With a little foresight and planning, you can help prevent a major headache and having to make a call to our team for our drain cleaning services.

Never put these foods down the drain

Here are a few Thanksgiving foodstuffs that you’ll want to place in the trash—not down the garbage disposal.

Oil & Grease

As far as your sink drain is concerned, oil and grease is public enemy #1. Never put either grease or oil down the sink drain. This is probably the most common mistake homeowners make at Thanksgiving, since a) cooking a turkey generates grease and b) the easiest way to get rid of hot grease and free up space is by dumping it down the sink.

Resist the urge to do so and get someone to help you carefully pour it, using a funnel, into an old jar or cup—the jar your gravy came in will do nicely. Better yet, make homemade gravy the way grandma used to by incorporating some of those turkey drippings into the sauce. Those of you who know what we’re talking about here know how to make gravy right!

Once the oil or grease in your upcycled container of choice cools and solidifies, you’ll see (and smell) exactly what kind of threat that grease posed to your pipes. You’ll also be able to safely throw it away at that point.

Vegetable Fibers

We hope your Thanksgiving dinner is more than just meat-and-potatoes. At the very least, you’ve probably got some onion and corn-on-the-cob coming to the table. Either way, avoid putting vegetables down the sink drain. Vegetable fibers—such as onion skins, corn husks, celery stalks, and lettuce—can be as tough for your disposal to chew through as they are for you to chew through. Take those out of the sink and throw them away, instead.


If turkey’s on the menu, make sure you toss those leftover bones into the trash. Even seemingly brittle bones are bad news for your garbage disposal, which won’t be able to cut through them like most leftover Thanksgiving food waste. More likely, your disposal will jam, and you’ll be left with the somewhat-disgusting task of fishing out what’s left of dinner.

Break the wishbone and wish for an easier post-dinner cleanup made possible by just throwing those bones away.

Potato Peels

What’s Thanksgiving dinner without mashed potatoes? While it might seem easy to peel potatoes over the kitchen sink, you should gather up the leftover peels and throw them in the trash. Generally speaking, starch—which potatoes have in abundance—is bad for your garbage disposal. It can also cause a clog in your drain or sewer line, as starch tends to act as a “glue” that attaches to the insides of pipes and starts accumulating.

Pasta & Uncooked Rice

While we applaud your originality in cooking some unconventional Thanksgiving foodstuffs, do avoid putting pasta or rice—especially uncooked—down your sink drain. As we all know, both tend to expand when soaked in water. They’re the perfect ingredients for a really nasty clog, and it’s well worth it to just throw leftovers in the trash, instead.


We’re scratching our heads and trying to think of a context in which you’d be using eggs for Thanksgiving. Maybe you’re baking pies ahead of time? Either way, if your holiday plans involve eggs, don’t discard their shells in your sink. Eggshell fragments are a notorious clog-starter. They tend to travel just far enough down the drain and into the sewer line to get stuck and begin accumulating.

Coffee Grounds

Need a fresh cup of joe to help you wake up from your food coma? Just avoid getting any of the grounds in the sink. Coffee grounds are infamous for causing clogs, as they tend to get trapped deep within drains and accumulate from there. When you’re done making coffee, just throw the used grounds in the garbage.

Watch: Here’s the right way to dispose of grease on Thanksgiving

Whether you’re planning on deep-frying your turkey or baking it in the oven, watch this news clip to learn about how you can safely dispose of your leftover grease.

What can you put down the drain?

Really, if it’s not on the list above, you’re probably safe to wash it down the drain—provided that your disposal is running when you do so, of course.

We generally advise that you and your guests scrape their plates clean into the trash before depositing them in the sink. This generally helps avoid any large chunks of food from getting stuck in the disposal, and also makes washing dishes a little easier for whichever unfortunate member of your family has been stuck with that task instead of diving into the pumpkin pie.

When in doubt, just throw the substance away instead of putting it down the drain. Given the large number of Thanksgiving foodstuffs that you can’t put down the drain, you might be better off advising your family and guests to throw their trash away before they head to the couch for their post-turkey nap.

Related: Get to know these common types of drain issues

If you need a plumber, call Wagner

If, despite your best efforts, you find yourself with a particularly nasty kitchen sink clog on Thanksgiving Day, you need to call your friends at Wagner. Our team of plumbing professionals is ready to help you out of any jam and ensure that your sink doesn’t ruin your Thanksgiving weekend.

We hope you and your family have a happy Thanksgiving and a safe and wonderful holiday season!