Washing Food Scraps and Grease Down Drains Clogs Pipes

Get a free fat trapper from the town.

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

Save yourself some trouble down the line: As part of your daily food preparation and cleanup, keep grease out of your drains!


Washing food scraps and grease down kitchen sinks is the second leading cause of clogged pipes. The main cause is flushing so-called “flushable” wipes and other personal hygiene and cleaning products down toilets.

Blocked pipes can lead to sewer overflows in and out of your home, which can be costly to the environment and your pocket:

  • Your responsibility — A sewer blockage that occurs between a house and its sewer cleanout pipe is the responsibility of the homeowner. The sewer cleanout pipe is the capped pipe at the edge of a road right of way. If you don’t have a town-maintained cleanout pipe, you are responsible for any blockages that occur in the sewer service line from the house to the main sewer line.
  • Shared responsibility — The town will clear blockages in the sewer main or service line from the cleanout pipe at the edge of the road right of way to the sewer main. However, your sewer fees help pay for this work. A large number of clogged pipes and sewer overflows could lead to higher fees.


To keep fats, oils and grease out of the sewer system:

  • Discard used grease with other garbage or recycle it.
  • Minimize use of your garbage disposal.
  • Scrape plates into trash cans.
  • Use paper towels to wipe leftover oils and fats from pots and pans before washing them.

Fat trappers —

The town has fat trappers available for free to Hillsborough water and sewer customers. To receive a kit or to receive additional bags if you already have the trappers, contact Utilities Infrastructure Protection Supervisor Troy Miller at 919-296-9653 or by email. Put “fat trapper” in the subject line.

Each kit contains a fat trapper container; two foil-lined bags that can withstand temperatures up to 150 degrees; and a pan scraper. Once a bag is filled, it can be sealed and disposed with garbage.

“The countertop fat trappers are great for storing used cooking fat from beef, chicken, fish and pork,” Miller notes. “With the ultra-durable foil liners, you do not have to wait until the grease has solidified to pour it in the bag. The bags also zip lock, so they are resealable and reclosable. They are great for locking out the smell and will not spill.”

Recycling oil —

To recycle used cooking or fryer oil, you can take up to 15 gallons to Orange County’s household hazardous waste collection centers:

  • 1514 Eubanks Road, northwest of Chapel Hill
  • 3605 Walnut Grove Church Road, north of Hillsborough

Only liquid oil is accepted. No water, bacon grease or lard is accepted.

More information

For more information on the town’s fats, oils and grease program, contact the utilities infrastructure protection supervisor, Troy Miller, at 919-296-9653 or by email.

For information on recycling used oils or for hazardous waste collection center hours, visit the Orange County government website or contact the Orange County Solid Waste Management Department at 919-968-2788 or

Related documents

Document Proper Disposal of Fats, Oil and Grease  (English and Spanish)