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Trash ItDispose Responsibly

Defend your drains! Many products don't belong in your drains (meaning your kitchen drain, toilet drain, bathtub drain, or any other household drain). These products range from wipes to dental floss and medicines to cleaning products. Wipes, paper towels, and other items that don't break down in water can clog your pipes, resulting in sewer backups and expensive repairs. Fats, oils, and grease can solidify, which can cause clogs. Putting items such as paint or large amounts of cleaning chemicals down the drain can also damage your pipes and negatively impact our water quality. Defend your drains, defend your pipes, and defend your environment by using proper disposal methods.



Holiday Grease Roundup

November 27, 2017 - January 8, 2018

Thanksgiving, with its fried turkeys, buttery foods, and gravy, can be hard on the diet—and on pipes and sewer systems. When fats, oils, and grease are washed down the drain, they stick to the inside of pipes, hardening and building up until they cause clogs and sewer backups. This can cause sewage to overflow into homes, streets, and local waterways.

So instead of washing your grease down the drain, participate in the 2017 Holiday Grease Roundup and recycle it for free! The 2017 Holiday Grease Roundup kicks off Monday, November 27, and ends Monday, January 8.

Several municipalities (the Cities of Cedar Hill, Garland, Lewisville, Little Elm, Mansfield, and Red Oak) are partnering with the North Texas Municipal Water District, the North Central Texas Council of Governments and the Wastewater And Treatment Education Roundtable to help protect sewer systems and the environment by either providing additional drop-off locations or highlighting their existing services.

Find Cooking Oil Recycling Locations Near You

Visit for more information.


Trash It

Wipes and cleaning cloths, paper towels, feminine hygiene products, and personal care items—these common household items don't break down in the sewer pipes of your home or on the way to the wastewater treatment plant. So what happens when you flush them down the toilet or drain? Since they don't break down, they can tangle and clump together. This can clog pipes and cause sewage to back up into your home or neighborhood. Even items labeled "flushable" can clog sewer pipes. Defend your drains by disposing of these products in the trash (where they belong) before they cause unpleasant and expensive problems.





Wipes and cleaning cloths are designed to be stronger than facial tissue or toilet tissue, so they don't break down in water. This includes baby wipes, bathroom wipes, facial or cosmetic wipes, personal hygiene wipes, disinfecting wipes, floor cleaning or dusting wipes, and toilet bowl scrub pads. Even products labeled "flushable" can clog your sewer line because their plastic fibers don't break down quickly.

Defend Your Drains: Wipes should always be thrown into the trash.

Paper Towels

Paper Towels

Paper towels are designed to be absorbent and strong, and specifically to not break down in water. They are not intended to be flushed down the toilet.

Defend Your Drains: Throw used paper towels in the trash – or switch to cloth, which can be washed and reused.

Femenine hygiene

Feminine Hygiene

Feminine hygiene products, such as sanitary napkins and tampons, are made of fibers like cotton and rayon. They are designed to absorb liquids instead of breaking down like toilet paper. Flushing these products can easily result in a clogged sewer line.

Defend Your Drains: Wrap used products in toilet tissue, then put them in the trash.

Personal care

Personal Care

While it's possible to flush things like dental floss, hair, cotton swabs, cotton balls, and condoms down the toilet, it's a bad idea. These items do not break down in water, and they can tangle with other items and block your sewer line. Just because something is used or dirty doesn't mean it should go down the toilet.

Defend Your Drains: Toss these items in the trash.

Dispose Responsibly

Medicines. Large amounts of cleaning products. Paint and pesticides. Fats, oils, and grease. While all these things shouldn't go down the drain, they also shouldn't be put in the trash. Why? Some of these products can pose a hazard to water quality, and others can be turned into something beneficial. Defend your drains by disposing of these products as described to help prevent plumbing problems and to protect the quality of our lakes, rivers, and streams.

Check out this map to find your nearest household hazardous waste collection center or grease drop-off location.

Find out more about your city's collection services.



Fats, oils, and grease

Fats, Oils, and Grease

Fats, oils, and grease will harden in your pipes or the city sewer lines. This could cause a sewer backup in either your home or neighborhood. Fats, oils, and grease come from meats, butter, lard, food scraps, sauces, dressings, dairy products, and cooking oil. And, yes, gravy can cause problems too. Even hot, soapy water won't move these substances very far through the pipes before they start to solidify.

Defend Your Drains:

  • Never pour oils or grease down the drain or garbage disposal.
  • Compost what you can, then scrape food, oils, grease, and sauces – yes, even gravy – into the trash.
  • Recycle your used cooking oil! To find a drop-off location near you, check out the drop-off locator map or check your city's services webpage. The recycled oil may be used to create biodiesel or electricity.


If you put medicines such as prescription pharmaceuticals and over-the-counter medications (for example, antibiotics, antidepressants, vitamins, cough syrup, or pain medications) down the drain or into the toilet, they end up in the water supply because water treatment processes can't completely remove them.

Defend Your Drains:

  • First, check our our locator map to find a take-back location near you. If you don't see one listed, contact your local law enforcement agency to see if the precinct offers take-back services, or check the National Community Pharmacy Association's (NCPA) Dispose My Meds Program website's locator map for pharmacies that may be participating in a take-back program. (It's recommended that you call first to make sure they still participate. Note that pharmacies can't accept controlled substances.)
  • Watch for advertisements of medicine take-back events on this website, your city's website, or in your water bill inserts. These events provide a safe, convenient, and responsible way to dispose of medicine while also educating the general public about the potential for medication abuse. The federal Drug Enforcement Agency sponsors take-back events twice per year.
  • You can also send in some medications to take-back services by a paid envelope. Here is one option:
  • As a last resort, dispose of medicines in household trash. You can do this by:
    • Mixing medicines with a substance such as kitty litter or used coffee grounds;
    • Placing that mixture in a container such as a sealed plastic bag; and
    • Putting the sealed container in your trash.
  • Consult your city for proper disposal of needles and other sharps.
Cleaning Products

Cleaning Products

While it's OK for small amounts of household chemicals to go down the drain – no more than about a cup – large amounts of these chemicals should not be disposed by way of your household plumbing. Bleach, disinfectants, and other household cleaners are difficult to extract from water, and chemicals can be harmful to workers and the environment.

Defend Your Drains: When getting rid of these products, take them to a hazardous waste collection center for proper disposal. (Check with your city to find out if they offer other services, such as curbside pickup.)

Paint and Pesticides

Paint and Pesticides

Leftover paint, insecticides, herbicides, fertilizer, and paint remover can be hazardous, and they should not be disposed of by way of your household plumbing. These chemicals are difficult and expensive to remove from the water and could damage your home.

Defend Your Drains:

  • Oil-based paint, pesticides, and chemicals: These items are considered hazardous waste and should be carefully taken to a hazardous waste collection center for proper disposal. (Check with your city to find out if they offer other services, such as curbside pickup.)
  • Latex paint: If there's only a small amount of paint in the bottom of the can, leave it in the sun to dry out, then throw it in the trash. For larger amounts of paint, purchase a paint hardener at a home improvement store for just a few dollars.
  • Larger quantities of leftover paint: Look for a hardware store or nonprofit such as Habitat for Humanity or PaintCare that accepts leftover paint for reuse or recycling.

This website highlights the most common products that cause plumbing problems, but a product not listed may still cause problems. Not sure how to dispose of something? Consult your city.

About Defend Your Drains North Texas

The Defend Your Drains North Texas campaign is an educational effort that encourages residents to properly dispose of items that can harm a home's plumbing system, the region's wastewater treatment systems, and water quality. It is supported by the Wastewater And Treatment Education Roundtable (WATER), an educational partnership between the North Central Texas Council of Governments, municipalities, and water utilities in the North Texas region. Special thanks to Dallas Water Utilities for sharing the Defend Your Drains campaign with the North Texas region.

City of Allen Logo    City of Arlington Logo    City of Bedford Logo    City of Dallas Logo    City of Duncanville Logo    City of Fort Worth Logo    City of Garland Logo    City of Hurst Logo    City of Irving Logo    City of Keller Logo    City of Lewisville Logo    City of Mansfield Logo    City of North Richland Hills Logo    City of Red Oak Logo    City of Richardson Logo    Trinity River Authority Logo    Upper Trinity Regional Water District Logo



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Wastewater And Treatment Education Roundtable     North Central Texas Council of Governments

The Wastewater And Treatment Education Roundtable is a program of the North Central Texas Council of Governments.