Blocked drains can often sneak up on us, causing a major inconvenience in the home when drains overflow, emit foul smells or otherwise don’t function properly.

We only tend to appreciate our plumbing systems when we encounter problems like blocked drains, and realise just how much we rely on our water services throughout the home.

Thankfully, you don’t have to wait until your toilet starts to overflow before you can do anything about it – there are preventative measures you can take and things to be aware of that can help to prevent blocked drains at your home, saving you plenty of hassle in the future.

1. Don’t pour grease, oil or fat down the sink.

These products solidify in the pipes, thereby forming a pretty serious blockage. Instead, dilute any oil with water (once it’s cooled down!), and then pour it down the sink, or wait for grease to solidify and scrape it into the bin instead.

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Also try running hot water down the sink after disposing of grease, oil or fat, as this can melt the waste products and encourage them to keep flowing through the drains rather than getting lodged.

Alternatively, slowly pour boiling water down the sink once a week to ensure the smooth functioning of the pipes.

2. Don’t rinse any food that expands when wet into the sink.

This includes rice, grains, pasta and cereals. Once washed down the sink, these food items will expand and become a significant blockage. Again, dispose of these scraps in the bin. Same goes for coffee grounds, which are dense and can therefore cause problems if dumped in the sink.

3. Ensure you only flush things down the toilet that are meant to be flushed – i.e. natural waste and toilet paper.

Nappies, sanitary products, paper towels and the like should not be flushed, as they do not decompose and can instead absorb water, expand and lodge themselves in your pipes.

4. Similarly, be aware of your children when they use the bathroom.

Children can be tempted to flush toys or other objects into the toilet, which is bound to get jammed in your home’s pipes.

5. Check your shower grates to ensure clumps of hair and shower products are not accumulating.

If these end up flowing into the pipes, they can cause a blockage.

Similarly, when brushing or styling your hair, avoid doing it over the sink, or catch any hair before it accumulates in the sink.

6. Be aware of using excess washing powder in your dishwasher or washing machine.

Again, these can solidify once flushed into the system.

7. With your kitchen, bathroom and laundry sinks and drainage holes, ensure that strainers are installed on all drains.

This will catch hair and debris before they have a chance to flow into your pipes.

8. Try to wash your pets outdoors when the weather is good, to prevent fur blocking your drains.

In colder weather, lay a cloth over the shower drain to catch any excess fur, which you can dispose into the bin later. A washtub is also a good option instead of using your bathtub or shower.

9. Clear your stormwater drains of rocks, sticks, leaves and the like.

A good time to do a thorough clean-up is at the start of a new season or when wild weather has scattered debris all over your backyard.

10. One overlooked factor that can wreak havoc on your plumbing system is trees and shrubs in your backyard.

Trees’ roots will naturally stretch towards the nearest source of water, which is your plumbing pipes. The roots can grow into the pipes, causing them to break. This means that when planting trees, make sure they are 25 metres away from your drainage system.

Also consider your choice of landscaping materials: grass is often a better option than sand, as sand can be carried through stormwater and block up your stormwater pipe.

All of the above can help to prevent blockages, keeping your home’s plumbing system functioning as it should. However, if you notice any sign of a blocked drain, such as water accumulation, overflowing basins and toilets or foul smells, contact a local blocked drain expert  to have the problem fixed thoroughly.

Do you have any drain cleaning tips to share if you do end up with a blocked drain? Share with us in the comments.

  • Great tips…and it’s important to know too that the so called ‘flushable wipes’ aren’t actually flushable (well they can be flushed but they will block the pipes. This is why some local councils are now promoting the message ‘no wipes for local pipes’.


  • yeah the sink is for waste water, it is not a garbage bin! try those sink filter things that you can buy from bunnings and that will trap a lot of stuff that gets rinsed off your dishes


  • Thank you for these tips, they are wonderful.


  • I use the Bokashi system to compost kitchen scraps and pour the liquid down the drains to clean them and control odour.

    • Would love to know more about your system? Thanks

      • I’ll put the link at the end. Bokashi is a simple way to compost inside the house. You can compost anything, included meat scraps. You add one scoop of bokashi mix, and with the time the food composts. And you get a juice that you can use as fertilizer or to clean the drains around the house. I started using it around 5 years ago, and I love it. No smell. I put the bucket in the kitchen pantry and I regularly add food scraps that I collect in an ice cream tub that I put under the sink.
        This is the system http://www.bokashi.com.au/


  • These are all fantastic tips and a great reminder as we head into spring.


  • Great tips! Trees can be a real nuisance! As much as I hated doing it, we just had to have one removed because it was causing major problems!


  • Good tips. Trees were always a problem when we were growing up.


  • Already use these useful tips and never ever put food down drains. Everything gets disposed of in the correct way – I could not stand a blocked drain with a horrible smell. :(


  • Good tips. I think main issues we’ve had have been due to very old plumbing or trees.


  • Great tips for preventing blockages, but I was hoping to read some good remedies for blocked drains.


  • I already do most of these things but still, they are great tips and they work. That’s definitely the main thing


  • Great tips indeed and good to read that I’m not the only one following them and using bicarb and vinegar in the drains and toillet.
    I make sure nearly all my food waste goes to the chickens and have actually never any left over grease/fat/oil.


  • When oil or fat is still hot in the pan go outside and pour it on weeds (not on cement or any paths because it will make walkways slippery). It will kill the weeds without hurting the soil.
    To prevent hair in shower drains, comb it out when washing it and stick the hair to the shower wall then an hour or so later when its dry just brush it off and hang it on the wall.

    • Lmao. Brush it off and put it in the bin sorry. I need more sleep. Do not hang shed hair on a wall in your home somewhere. Unless thats what you’re into. In which case go nuts.


  • Great tips – I try to do all these, but also run bicarb soda and vinegar through the sink once a month.


  • I tip half a cup of bicarbonate soda & then 1 cup vinegar. Leave for 10 minutes & then tip a jug full of boiling water down the drain. I tip my used cooking oil into a thick plastic jar then freeze it & put it out on garbage day. Robyn.


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