Don’t dump grease down your sink!

Home ownership taught me a lot, being a landlady has taught me even more. I have learned, it’s  smart to regard your house as a living thing, and try to keep it that way. Your plumbing, for example, serves many functions similar to both your circulatory and digestive systems, and can have the same sort of problems.

I was shocked when I heard that food servers Downtown had actually been pouring enough grease down their drains to shut down a whole section of plumbing over near Second and Broadway. They don’t know better than to dump grease down their drains? Not unusual – I find most of my tenants are completely surprised when you tell them not to do that.

Watch tv – those damn dish detergent commercials really send a bad message. Sure, Dawn will get that grease off your pots, and send it right into your sewer lines. Worse – your septic tank! Grease works in plumbing the same way it works in your body – sticks to stuff, plugs stuff up, lines all your passageways with gunk. And, grease can wreck your septic tank by plugging the little teeny holes through which the water is supposed to percolate. 

People like to think they can just run boiling hot water through the pipes to wash grease out – do they realize how fast the water cools off and becomes full of grease? It just moves the problem along a little. Drain cleaners don’t help either – they might clear the pipes directly under your sink, but again, they just move the blob further along, like a Christmas present for your plumber. 

Avoid the problem in the first place by learning how to deal with cooking oils. It might seem messy and gross – well, what do you think you’re doing to your body with that stuff? You ate it, now all  the sudden it grosses you out? That’s something my family discovered years ago – deep frying is not worth it. We used to enjoy falafels and tempura vegetables and shrimp, but we’d always be left with all that used oil. It had to be taken out and dumped directly into the compost hole, then there was the greasy pan. We still fry, sparingly, but we don’t deep fry anymore. And, we’ve learned to clean up the pan, quick and, well, somewhat easy.

The greasiest things we eat are meatballs, especially since my father-in-law butchered a pig recently and gave us a bunch of good ground pork. Yeah, pork fat is bad for you, we don’t eat them every day. Check out all this grease.

Yeah, YECH! This bag is full of grease and greasy paper towels from cleaning a dirty pan.

Yeah, YECH! This bag is full of grease and greasy paper towels from cleaning a dirty pan.

Of course, my grandma cleaned her pans into a special can marked “Lard” that she kept next to the stove. Yep, she re-used it, people still do. I loved my grandma’s cooking, but I don’t want the old-age problems my grandparents had, related directly to their diet. I try to avoid frying, and I never cook anything in more than a quarter inch or so of oil. 

When I’m done with a messy pan, I take a used plastic bag (I set used plastic bags that are not too dirty next to my garbage can under my sink), fold the open edge back to keep the outside clean, and set it in my sink. Then I scrape the contents of the pan into it. If you’re worried about spilling, line your sink with a newspaper. I use a spatula to get as much as I can. Then I use paper towels or sheets of newspaper to get the rest.

Don't wear your favorite Mickey Mouse pullover when you do this.

Don’t wear your favorite Mickey Mouse pullover when you do this.

It's nice to have paper towels for jobs like this, although, newspaper is okay.

It’s nice to have paper towels for jobs like this, although, newspaper is okay.

Paper towel goes in the bag, bag gets sealed, bag goes out to the trash can. I usually wrap the whole mess again in another bag.

Paper towels go in the bag, bag gets sealed, bag goes out to the trash can. I usually wrap the whole mess again in another bag.

Yeah, I know – isn’t this just so interesting? Say hello to my life! This is what Landlady does for a living – plumbing is a huge part of our job. I know – most people don’t think about their plumbing until it doesn’t work! I wish they would!

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