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Dishwashing habits that can cause damage

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Dishwashing habits that can cause damage

How to keep a kitchen in good working order…

Experts reveal that common dishwashing practices could be silently harming your kitchen plumbing. From the improper disposal of grease to using harsh chemical cleaners, these habits contribute to blockages and damage over time.

Plumbworld, the leading bathroom and kitchen expert, highlights the ways in which your dishwashing practices may be adversely affecting your kitchen pipes. It offers straightforward advice on safeguarding your plumbing, including the correct disposal of grease, the necessity of sink strainers, and the avoidance of harsh chemical cleaners.

1. Grease and Fat Disposal

In the UK, water companies frequently campaign against the disposal of grease and fats down the sink, as it’s a major cause of sewer blockages. When hot grease is washed down the sink, it cools in the pipes, solidifying and adhering to the pipe walls. Over time, this can build up, restricting water flow and eventually leading to blockages. Thames Water, for instance, spends millions each year clearing fatbergs—large blockages made of fat, oil, grease, and other debris—from the sewers. To mitigate this, it’s recommended to wipe pans and plates with a paper towel to remove excess grease before washing them and to dispose of large amounts of oil or fat in the bin, not the sink.

2. Food Particles

Failing to scrape off food particles before washing dishes can lead to significant problems. In the UK, with its mix of modern and very old sewer systems, the disposal of food waste down the sink can exacerbate blockage issues. While some may rely on garbage disposals (food waste disposers), they are not as common in the UK as in other countries. Even when these devices are used, certain materials like coffee grounds, tea leaves, and eggshells can cause harm. The best practice is to scrape dishes into a compost bin or trash before washing them.

3. Chemical Cleaners

The frequent use of harsh chemical cleaners can corrode pipes over time. This issue is not unique to the UK but is particularly relevant in areas with older plumbing systems. These chemicals can also harm the environment when they find their way into watercourses. In the UK, where there is a strong push towards environmental conservation, more people are turning to eco-friendly and natural cleaning solutions, such as baking soda and vinegar, which are kinder to pipes and the planet.

4. Hot Water Misconceptions

Using excessively hot water can damage PVC pipes, which are commonly used in UK homes. Extreme temperatures can weaken the pipes and their joints, leading to leaks. The Building Regulations and Water Supply (Water Fittings) Regulations in the UK suggest appropriate materials and practices for domestic plumbing to mitigate such risks. Moderating the temperature of water used for washing up and ensuring your plumbing system is up to regulatory standards can help prevent damage.

5. Improper Use of Sink Strainers

Sink strainers are essential for catching food particles and preventing them from entering the plumbing system. In the UK, where smaller particles can contribute to sewer blockages and fatbergs, using and regularly cleaning sink strainers can significantly reduce the risk. It’s a simple yet effective step in maintaining healthy kitchen pipes.

6. Starchy Foods

Foods like pasta, rice, and potatoes can expand when they come into contact with water, leading to blockages. In the UK, with its complex network of household and municipal sewers, such blockages can be problematic. Disposing of starchy foods in the bin rather than washing them down the sink can prevent these issues.

7. Hard Water

Much of the UK has hard water, which contains high levels of calcium and magnesium. These minerals can deposit inside pipes, reducing water flow and efficiency. Over time, this can exacerbate any existing problems caused by grease, oil, and food particles. Using a water softener can help, as can periodically run a descaling solution through the system to break down mineral buildup.

General Care Tips:

  • Scrape Plates First: Remove food scraps into the bin or a compost heap before washing up.
  • Dispose of Grease Properly: Wipe pans with a paper towel to remove grease, or pour it into a container to throw in the bin, rather than down the sink.
  • Use Sink Strainers: Install strainers in sink drains to catch food particles and clean them regularly.
  • Avoid Chemical Cleaners: Opt for natural cleaning solutions like baking soda and vinegar to avoid damaging pipes and harming the environment.
  • Moderate Water Temperature: Use warm water, not boiling, for washing up to protect PVC pipes and joints.
  • Be Cautious with Hard-to-Grind Food Waste: Avoid putting fibrous vegetables, eggshells, and coffee grounds down the disposal unit or sink.
  • Regularly Clean Your Drains: Use boiling water, baking soda, and vinegar to regularly clean and maintain your drains.
  • Soften Hard Water: Consider installing a water softener if you live in an area with hard water to prevent mineral buildup in pipes.
  • Monitor for Leaks: Keep an eye on your plumbing for any signs of leaks and address them promptly to avoid water damage and wastage.

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