Keep Your Pipes "FOG-Free" This Holiday Season

Published on November 14, 2016

Out of sight, out of mind?

Don't let the health of our sewers go down the drain — especially during the big cooking (and eating) holidays. FOG

Fats, oils and grease, known collectively as "FOG," represent the most serious enemy of our sewer lines and is the No. 1 cause of sewage backups in homes. FOG builds up in sewer lines when people wash grease down the drain. Once in the sewer, FOG sticks to the pipe and thickens and over time can block the entire system.

FOG results from cooking and cleaning up. FOG is found in:

  • liquid oil used for sautéing or frying

  • butter, lard, margarine or shortening

  • meat fats such as from bacon or hamburger

At their worst, blockages in pipes can send sewage out of manholes into streets and rivers, or up drains into homes — a health hazard and threat to the environment.

Fortunately, most sewer clogs are preventable by remembering a few simple steps.


  • Scrape solid greasy food waste into the trash

  • Pour liquid grease to cool in a safe container like a recycled can and throw in the trash

  • Use a paper towel to wipe grease out of the pan prior to washing

  • Place used liquid oil in a sealable container and throw in the trash


  • Pour fat, oil or grease down a drain, garbage disposal or toilet

  • Use hot water to rinse grease off cookware, utensils, dishes or other surfaces.

Tips from the Pipeline

  • You can keep pipes clean by pouring 1/2 cup baking soda down the drain followed by 1/2 cup vinegar. Wait 15 minutes, then rinse with hot water.

  •  Wipes, even those labeled as "flushable", do not degrade in the sanitary sewer and can cause major problems downstream at pump stations, the Water Pollution Control Plant, or even at your home.

This holiday season — and all year round — help do your part and celebrate the clean, working sewers of Arlington.