Experts issue Christmas dinner warning as mistake could cause floods

Families are being warned a simple Christmas dinner mistake could have a disastrous consequence for their home. 

Experts at trade association Water UK is warning households to make sure fats, oils and greases are disposed of properly. Failing to do so could block your pipes.

It comes as research suggests 27% of adults tip their cooking fats down the sink. With 22% opting for the drain and 11% putting their fats and greases in the toilet.

Water UK’s new campaign says fats, oils and greases poured down the sink or drain harden in cold pipes. They combine with wet wipes and other unflushable items to create ‘fatbergs’ which block sewer pipes, leading to sewage flooding homes and streets, and pollution in waterways. They can also block pipes in homes.

Sewer blockages cost the UK up to £200 million each year, and more than 3,000 homes are flooded because of them, Water UK said. Thames Water also shared a warning to customers on Christmas Eve.

It posted on X, formerly Twitter, saying: “If you’re hosting over the festive period, remember that leftover oil, gravy, sauces or custard go in your food waste or bin. If they’re rinsed down the sink, they can clog up your pipes and cause a major backup.”

And South West Water said that last year it dealt with more than 7,000 blocked sewers with over 20% of these caused by fats, oils and greases being poured down drains. Tips on how to responsibly dispose of fats, oils and grease include:

  • Allow them to cool and wipe away with kitchen towel and place in the bin.
  • Cooled oils can be poured into a heatproof container, then placed in the bin.
  • Pour into a pot and use again to cook another meal.
  • Use a sink strainer to catch greasy food scraps.

William Davies, communications director at Water UK, said: “We all love our Christmas dinner but cooking up that delicious festive feast leaves behind a trail of leftover fat, oil and grease.

“Amid the yuletide cheer the last thing we want to think about is what should happen to this gloopy mess. But disposing of it down the sink or drain can cause real problems in our sewers, harm wildlife and block the pipes in our homes as well.

“This festive season why not do your bit to protect your ho, ho home by putting any fats, oils and greases in the bin and not down the sink.”

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