Thanksgiving cleanup is tough enough — here’s how to avoid an even bigger mess

The kitchen will be the busiest part of the house for the next couple of days as everyone gets ready to cook a big Thanksgiving meal. And there will be lots and lots of grease left over at the end.

“There is so much grease associated with Thanksgiving. It’s the reality of the turkeys and the meals we cook,” said Lyn Riggins, a spokeswoman with WSSC Water.

But she had a warning for anyone tasked with cleaning up all those dishes at the end of the meal.

“Don’t pour cooking grease down the sink,” Riggins said. “It’s going to cost you money. It’s going to cost you headaches. It’s going to be messy, and instead of enjoying Black Friday you’re going to be enjoying Brown Friday, and there’s no joy in that.”

That’s because that grease will eventually accumulate. Maybe it won’t actually happen the next day, but the more grease you put down the drain, the more it starts to clog up the pipes running into sewer systems.

“Thanksgiving could be what pushes you over the edge,” she said. Whenever that moment happens, and the grease hardens up and forms a dam in the pipes, that water doesn’t have many other places to go. More than likely, it’s coming back up into your plumbing or your basement.

WSSC Water says 75% of all sewage overflows are caused by grease blockages, and 99% of those blockages are traced back to homes. Bacon grease, taco grease and, on days like Thanksgiving, turkey grease mix with all sorts of other types of grease that end up in the pipes over time, can leave an awful mess.

It’s an expensive call to the plumber, not to mention time wasted cleaning and dealing with the mess. And it can easily be avoided.

“The cranberry cans, the green bean cans from the famous green bean casserole — save all of those,” Riggins said. “When you’re cooking and making turkey or bacon the next morning for the family that’s there, pour [the grease] into the can.”

Then put the can in the freezer. It’ll harden up quick, and when trash day comes, you just throw it away. “The steps are: can it, cool it, toss it.”

“Grab that can and can the grease,” Riggins said. “Save yourself the headaches.”

John Domen

John started working at WTOP in 2016 after having grown up in Maryland listening to the station as a child. While he got his on-air start at small stations in Pennsylvania and Delaware, he's spent most of his career in the D.C. area, having been heard on several local stations before coming to WTOP.

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