Why You Need To Stop Putting Rice Down The Kitchen Drain

There are lots of things you can do with leftover rice. One thing you shouldn't do with it? Put it down the kitchen drain.

As simple as it might seem to put soft, small foods down the kitchen sink and avoid taking up space in the garbage can, there are some things that just shouldn't go there, whether you have a garbage disposal or not. Rice is one of them.

By absorbing water, rice expands to three or four times its original size when cooked (via The Nibble). Obviously, this means that raw rice should never go into your pipes where it can swell up and cause a blockage, but even cooked rice can continue to absorb water or get sticky if it gets lodged in a drain pipe.

Sunshine Plumbing and Gas in Orlando, Florida, notes that while there is nothing wrong with sending a few spare grains of rice or noodles down the drain when rinsing a plate, a lot of them can cause a major backup.

What about the garbage disposal?

Even if you have a garbage disposal at your disposal, rice can still be a major problem for your plumbing. The point of the disposal is to chop up big chunks of food so they wash down the pipes and sewer system easier, but rice — and starchy pastas, for that matter — don't really work that way.

According to Dump Disposal, boiled, mashed rice has been used as a substitute for glue throughout history, which should tell you exactly how it will impact your garbage disposal. The pulverized, starchy grain creates a paste that can cause your disposal to get blocked up and ineffective, and even if the blades remain clear, it can still stick to the pipes and restrict the flow of water and other debris.

Fortunately, if you do have this problem, it does not necessarily mean you will be saddled with an expensive plumber's bill. Dump Disposal recommends pouring a pot of boiling water down the sink or, if that fails, dropping baking soda and vinegar down the drain and letting the power of a science fair volcano clear up the blockage.

Despite the relatively easy potential fix, it's probably best to just avoid the situation altogether and just find some extra space in the trash bag instead.