How to Properly Dispose of Grease and Oils From Food Preparation

Updated on March 4, 2017

Washing Oil and Grease Down the Drain Is a Green No-No

Most of us don't think about the impact that grease has on our water supply. If we are green enough to use biodegradable, green dishwashing detergents, we probably think that we're so far aheead of the game that we can just rinse the soapy grease away along with the negative environmental impact.

The truth is far more grim - grimy, if you will.

Oil and Water Do Not Mix - Not Even with Soap

When you pour oil and grease down the drain, it sticks to pipes, and can cause sewer clogs. Worst case scenario, raw sewage could back up into your home. Douncing greasy dishes in soapy water doesn't eradicate the problem - dishwashing liquid only breaks the grease down into smaller particles; it doesn't "dissolve" it.

So, if you want to properly dispose of oils and grease, you have to first get it away from the water supply. NO MORE RINSING IT DOWN THE DRAIN :-)

Common Sources of Oil and Grease

  • Meat trimmings (fried, baked meats)
  • Cooking Oil
  • Salad Dressing
  • Mayonnaise
  • Melted Butter
  • Bacon Drippings

Proper Disposal of Grease and Oil

In order to properly dispose of grease, grime, and oil, you have to separate from the water supply and then dispose of it with the regular, soild household waste. Here are some ways to drastically reduce the amount of grease and oil that goes down the drain. Your indoor plumbing and the local water supply will be cleaner because of it!

  1. Solidify thin, liquidy fats with absorbent material. It is most tempting to just pour light oils down the drain; after all, you can't just pour them in the garbage! However, you can use coffee grounds or kitty litter (or even some leftover powder laundry detergent) to absorb the liquid and then dispose of the solid waste. If you want to go super green, you can even make your own kitty litter from recycled paper!
  2. Filter out heavy grease and fatty solids. When boiling meat or any time fats and water mix, it's easy to just pour it all down the drain. However, you can simply cover the drain with one or two layers of paper towel (or a large coffee filter) and use them as a filter to catch softer, more solid fats and grime when they are already heavily mixed with water. Then discard the "filter paper" in the trash.
  3. Wipe out greasy pots and pans. It's messy, and it can be annoying, but it's safer and healthier than rinsing the grease and grime down the drain. If you do it soon enough after cooking, it also cuts down on the elbow grease needed to get pots and pans clean. THAT'S worth the effort!
  4. Fill a safe container and discard the container. An empty coffee can, or better, an empty plastc food container (they are usually not recyclable) with a tight fitting lid can be used to hold the grease or oil, and you can simply throw that out with the trash. Easy peasy. Just make sure that the grease or oil has cooled first - you don't want to dispose of hot grease for a number of safety reasons.

Questions & Answers

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      • profile image

        Green? 3 months ago

        What's green about putting it in a landfill? I get not wanting to damage sewers but disguising it as green is misleading. Mind you, I don't necessarily care about throwing that kind of stuff in landfills, lots of landfills are harvesting methane now and if the nuclear holocaust ever happens, well, I'll know where to go to find lots of raw plastics and aluminum...

      • profile image

        jamescristy 5 years ago

        Go to I ordered 1 case of these containers and gave them out to friends and family this is an awesome product now I need to order more.

      • RuthCoffee profile image

        Ruth Coffee 9 years ago from Zionsville, Indiana

        Good tips! I wipe pans out etc. My mother used to fry more foods when we were small and I recall she kept a container available to dispose of the oils and grease.

      • SewWithSarah profile image

        SewWithSarah 9 years ago

        EXCELLENT lens! Thank you for sharing!!

      • profile image

        anonymous 9 years ago

        Ok, I've officially learned something new today. Thanks.