The sink is used for everything from washing dishes to cleaning hands before food prep or after a meal. With the amount of food and other debris it’s exposed to each day, it’s no wonder the kitchen sink is one of the most commonly clogged drains in a home.

If you are a homeowner who does not want to deal with clog and pipe problems often, you need to know why they happen in the first place. Here are the possible culprits and some ways to avoid clogging your sink:

1. Oil and Grease

Chief among kitchen sink cloggers is cooking oils and fats. When the grease cools, the fat solidifies and hardens, thickening in the pipe and clogging it up. Grease buildup is worse because fats and oils are so slippery that they are challenging to wash away. Not only does grease clog drains on its own, but it also attracts more grease, worsening the issue.

It’s always best to scrape off the fat, oil, and grease from pots and pans as you cook. Dispose of oil and grease in the trash can instead of pouring them down the sink drain.

2. Coffee Grounds

Coffee grounds are another common kitchen sink clog. Although they are not as greasy as oil and fat, coffee grounds are highly acidic. They are also quite hard, making them an effective clog-forming agent.

The next time you brew coffee, put the used coffee grounds in the trash or compost pile. If you forget and add a handful of coffee grounds to the drain, follow it quickly by boiling water. This can help prevent buildup.

3. Food Scraps

Food scraps are another common kitchen sink clog. Bits of food off plates and off the utensils you use to cook can fall into the sink during food preparation. These bits of food attract bacteria and mold, perfect for the tiny bugs that like to feast on wash water. 

For peels and scraps, the best solution is to avoid putting them in the sink. Instead, you can compost them, or if you have a garbage disposal, you can throw them in one. Otherwise, dispose of them in the trash.

4. Starches

Starches are like fat—they are highly clog-forming and can also attract bugs and mold. It’s best to avoid putting starch in the sink in the first place. Take time to soak the plates and utensils you use before preparing food. If you have no choice but to rinse them under running water, pour a tablespoon of vinegar on the starch to dissolve the gluey substance.

5. Soap Scum

If you know how to cook, you know that a good portion of your kitchen sink clog is likely to be soap scum. This material is the white, chalky substance that appears whenever you wash dishes, eventually attracting bacteria and mold.

To avoid this problem, use the garbage disposal to get rid of the soap scum. The garbage disposal grinds it up, mixing it with water before sending it to the sewer.


The kitchen sink is a major drain in anyone’s home. Cooking ingredients and cleaning equipment can clog it easily. However, there are things you can do to avoid clogging it and having to call a plumber.

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