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What can I put down the drain?

Drains are not trash cans and the sewer system and treatment plant can’t handle chemicals, trash, garbage or fats. Chemicals can harm the treatment plant or environment, and garbage, trash and fats can cause sewer back-ups and overflows. In addition to the inconvenience, back-ups and overflows are unsanitary, smelly, and expensive for BCWS and often the homeowner to correct. Since many storm sewers empty directly into lakes, rivers or streams, anything you put into a storm sewer ends up directly affecting the environment.

Here are some things we want you to keep out of the sewers, and some information about what to do with them instead.

  • Removing chemicals from wastewater is difficult. Because there is additional processing, chemical removal raises costs. Some chemicals can be hazardous to the treatment plant, the workers, and if chemicals pass through the plant, they can harm the environment as well.
  • Paper and plastic trash can block the sanitary pipes in your house or in the street.
  • Fats, oils and grease that are poured down the drain can harden into a plug, and block an entire pipe, causing sewer overflows and backups.
  • Garbage, just like trash and fats, clogs and blocks the pipes.

Take these and other chemicals to a hazardous waste collection site.

  • motor oil and auto fluids
  • pesticides, fertilizers and lawn care products
  • fertilizers
  • bleach and disinfectants
  • beauty products
  • medicine
  • paint, varnish, paint remover
  • photographic chemicals

Paper and plastic trash, such as the items listed below, should be put in your garbage can or dumpster.

  • paper towels
  • dental floss
  • feminine hygiene products and applicators
  • cat litter
  • cigarettes
  • plastics
  • disposable diapers

Fats, Oils and Grease


  • Meat scraps and bones should be wrapped securely in paper, foil or plastic and put in your garbage can or dumpster. In warm weather, put them in your freezer until the night before trash pick-up to minimize smell and discourage animals.
  • Vegetable and fruit scraps can be put in the regular garbage, or you can compost them.