F.O.G. Alert: Keep Fats, Oils & Grease Out of Your Drain

Fats, oils & grease – referred to as F.O.G. – are found in common foods including butter, cooking oil, salad dressings, mayonnaise, grease, lard, shortening, gravy, sauces, meat, fish, and many food scraps. If it is poured down your drain or into your kitchen garbage disposal, F.O.G. can build up over time.

F.O.G. can be evil. It seems harmless enough, in the form of leftover food or liquid, when it’s poured down a drain or into a disposal, but then it forms into large, thick grease balls. And there it waits, lurking in the sewer pipes, attracting more F.O.G. until it blocks the pipe, causing sewage backups and spills, creating environmental problems and potential public health issues.

F.O.G. is the number one cause of backups into basements, and it is your sewer system’s worst enemy.

It can easily clog your own sewer pipes between your home and the sewer system, causing expensive sewer problems and even backups into your home. It is important to note that when sewer pipes back up on private property, the homeowner or business owner is responsible for repair and cleanup.

And, when F.O.G. reaches the Hartselle Wastewater Treatment Plant, it adds to treatment costs: solids have to be filtered out, including oils, which don’t mix with water. This raises the costs for all Hartselle Utilities wastewater customers.

But almost every family – especially those in the South – uses fats, oils, and grease for cooking. If F.O.G. can’t be poured down the drain or disposal, what’s the best way to handle it?

Cool It. Can It. Trash It.

When cleaning your kitchen, remove food scraps with dry methods, such as scraping, before using water. Wet cleaning methods typically wash F.O.G. down the drain. Scrape leftovers into the trash or compost bin.

If you have leftover grease or oil, while it is still in liquid form pour it into an empty metal can with a sealable lid. Allow it to cool in this container, make sure you seal the can, and then throw it into the trash.

Don’t use hot water to rinse grease off cookware, utensils, or dishes. With greasy pots and pans, after pouring the grease into a container, use a rubber scraper or a paper towel to wipe out the remaining grease before washing the pan.

If you have a large amount of liquid – more than a half gallon – mix the oil with an absorbent material such as cat litter or coffee grounds.

Wipe down counters and greasy work areas with paper towels. Cloth towels will accumulate grease, which will eventually end up in your drains from the washing machine.

In addition to F.O.G., there are other materials that should never be poured down the drain or flushed down the toilet:

Don’t put anything into toilets other than human waste and toilet paper. Even if a wet wipe is advertised as ‘flushable,’ it’s a solid. Throw it in the trash.

Use environmentally friendly detergents and cleaning products.

Wash paint brushes in a bucket and pour the water into your yard or garden, away from drains.

Dispose of household chemicals in safe containers.

Put leftover medicine in the trash, never down the drain or into the toilet.

If you think you may have accidentally poured F.O.G. into your drains, you may be able to clean the drain by pouring 1/2 cup of baking soda down the drain, followed by 1/2 cup of white vinegar. Wait 10-15 minutes, then rinse with hot water.

Keeping F.O.G. out of Hartselle’s sewer system helps keep the lines clear, helps the environment, and saves money.