Can You Put Household Cleaners Down The Drain
As a Fraser Valley Plumber, Murrayville Plumbing & Heating Ltd. deals with many plumbing situations that more than likely could have been avoided. Just the other day on our of technicians was called in to unclog a toilet and found a toy car along with baby wipes blocking the flow of water. The backup actually caused the toilet flange to crack and the leak could be found all the way downstairs in their basement. No matter what it says on the packaging, these wipes are not meant to go down any drain throw them directly into the garbage.
We inherently know that food affects our health, but the connections between health and our personal care products, home cleaning products, shower system, bedding, clothing, plastics, appliances and furnishings seem to take a bit longer. Once we make those connections, we might have the urge to toss everything down the drain or in the garbage. But take a beat and consider this: Can You Put Household Cleaners Down The Drain?
This is a critical part of overall drainage health that is too frequently ignored.
“Common chemicals found in everyday cosmetics and cleaning products are dousing us in poison. It’s easy to get hooked on the stuff. Cutting out toxic nail polish will have no negative effects on your quality of life, nor will switching from a toxic cleaning spray to one that doesn’t bare a skull and crossbones. The effect on your radiant complexion can be massive, in a good way… Imagine how your liver, skin and other detox organs would sing if they didn’t have to be choking on the chemicals we throw at them daily.”
There are a number of items we commonly use – makeup remover, shoe polish, disinfectants, laundry bleach and toilet bowl cleaners – that are too toxic to go down the drain.
Products that we use on our skin, our kitchen counters and to unclog our drains can’t actually go down the drain because they are considered hazardous waste.
Taking your old multi-purpose kitchen cleaner and nail polish remover and dumping them down the drain is not the solution to getting these products out of our lives. After all, there is no away. All of these things end up somewhere. What we pour down the drain will eventually make its way back into our body through the water supply; what we toss in the garbage will impact the environment.
Those chemicals are viciously strong little devils that persist in our environment and in our cells, being passed on from mother to child in utero.
I go into a rage blackout when I see store owners carrying their bucket of bleach saturated water out to the drains in the street to dump them straight into our sewers. The chlorine and fluoride in our water is bad enough on its own, there’s no need to create a greater chemical cocktail!
When you make the switch to natural products, please dispose of your old products responsibly and thoughtfully.
What you can and can’t pour down the drain or toss in the garbage will depend on where you live. Check with your municipality, either online or by phone, for best practices.
WHAT NOT TO FLUSH, POUR DOWN THE DRAIN OR TOSS IN THE GARBAGE
Household waste that should never be poured down the drain or tossed out with household garbage includes:
- Cooking oil
- Fat or grease (this includes meat drippings, lard, butter or margarine, gravy, and dairy products)
- Personal care products, including perfumes, aftershave, antibacterial soaps, hair dye and hairspray
- Paints, stains, coatings and their containers – this includes nail polish
- Paint thinners, strippers, degreasers and other solvents – this includes oven cleaners, drain cleaner, metal/jewelry cleaner, polish remover, some make-up removers, toilet bowl cleaners, bathroom cleaners, kitchen cleaners, etc.
- Bleach and ammonia
- Single-use batteries (get rechargeable!)
- Pressurized cylinders that held propane, oxygen, helium or other gasses – think of aerosol products like cooking sprays, hair sprays, mousse and air fresheners
- Fertilizers and pesticides, including the ones on conventional produce
- Helium and propane tanks/cylinders
- Vehicle engine antifreeze/coolant and their containers
- Empty lubricating oil containers and lubricants – this includes personal lubricants and petroleum jelly (can’t put it down the drain, but you can put it in those private spots!)
- Oil filters
- Swimming pool chemicals
- Wipes (baby wipes or cleaning wipes cannot be flushed – they can go in the garbage though)
This is not an exhaustive list, but a good starting point for thinking about what you have, its impact and what you may be able to use instead. Cleaning up your clean-up regime is important. Simply getting rid of the goods and throwing them to the land of “away” is not an option. It’s dangerous and irresponsible. I encourage you to do your research about the best way to dispose of items where you live.
HOW TO GET RID OF HOUSEHOLD WASTE SAFELY
The city of Toronto has a service called the Toxic Taxi where they will come and do curbside pick-up of your toxic waste products. There is another resource in the province of Ontario called Orange Drop, which provides pick-up service and drop off sites. Check in with your city, town, province or state to see if there is a similar service in your area.
The fact that the government provides free services to ensure these products don’t end up in our landfills and water systems says a lot. It takes some extra effort to dispose of hazardous products responsibly, but the impact on our health, the health of the environment and the health of future generations depend on it.
Once you have gotten rid of these toxic items, it’s time to replace these products with natural alternatives you can use daily. These alternatives are easy to make if you’re so inclined, are effective and have a pleasant scent – or, as I often, say, no scent at all.
WHAT YOU CAN USE INSTEAD
There are, thankfully, loads of safe products you can buy in your local health food store. With the increase in awareness, many mainstream brands also carry safer, or safe options. It is well worth any extra investment, not just for the health of the planet, but more directly, the health of your family.
Best Natural Cleaning Ingredients
- Baking soda (sodium bicarbonate): An all-purpose, non-toxic cleaner. It cleans, deodorizes, scours, polishes and removes stains.
- Borax (sodium borate): It deodorizes, removes stains and boosts the cleaning power of soap. It also prevents mold and odours.
- Arrowroot starch: Cleans and deodorizes carpets and rugs.
- Lemon juice: Cuts through grease and stains on aluminum and porcelain.
- Pure soap: Cleans everything.
- Table salt (sodium chloride): A mild disinfectant and makes an abrasive, but gentle, scouring powder.
- Vinegar (dilute acetic acid): Removes mildew, stains, grease and wax buildup. Vinegar is a great glass cleaner.
- Washing soda (sodium carbonate): Cuts grease and disinfects. It will also increase the cleaning power of soap.