We all deal with sink and drain clogs at some point, but many of us put the problem on the backburner until we’re taking a bath in the shower or the sink is so stopped up that washing your hands nearly floods the bathroom. 

Tackling the problem early on can save you money in the long-run, but taking steps to prevent clogs in the first place will save you frustration. Here are four tips to help keep your drains clean and clog-free.

1. Avoid Pouring Grease Down the Drain

Grease is the enemy of your home’s pipes. Have you ever left bacon grease or coconut oil on the counter? What happens when the oil cools? It congeals, or becomes a solid. The same thing happens when the oil makes its way down your pipes.

You may pour hot bacon grease down the drain, but eventually, that grease will cool and solidify in your pipes. Before you know it, you have a build-up of grease and grime that creates a clog in your kitchen sink. 

Instead of pouring oil and grease down the drain, toss it in the trash. Some people choose to save bacon grease in a coffee can or container for later use.

2. Toss Coffee Grounds in the Trash or Compost

Reusable coffee filters are eco-friendly, but they can also cause another problem: clogs. Many people simply dump the coffee grounds down the drain, rinse out the filter and start brewing their next pot.

But coffee grounds don’t break down in water and can actually clump together. Eventually, the grounds will build up, get packed together and cause a clog in the drain line.

Instead of dumping coffee grounds down the drain, toss them in the trash or throw them in the compost pile. Used coffee grounds also make a great fertilizer for the garden. 

3. Be Careful of What You Put Down the Disposal

If your kitchen sink is equipped with a garbage disposal, be mindful of the foods that you feed it. 

"Stringy veggies will wind up wrapped around the disposer’s blades and cause mechanical failure,” says JC Plumbing & Sewer. “Potato peels often get caught in the traps of your pipes because the blades of the disposer have become too dull to chop them small enough.”

4. Clean Drains with Baking Soda, Vinegar and Hot Water

You’ve probably heard that chemical drain cleaners are actually bad for your plumbing system. If you can’t use chemical cleaners, how can you get rid of or prevent clogs? The answer is simple: baking soda, vinegar and hot water.

Simply pour baking soda, which is an excellent cleanser and odor-neutralizer, down the drain. Follow that by pouring distilled white vinegar down the drain. The vinegar should react with the baking soda and start bubbling. Pour the vinegar slowly to prevent the bubbling from coming up out of the drain. Allow the mixture to sit for about an hour. Follow up by pouring hot or boiling water down the drain. 

Cleaning your drains with this mixture once a month will help keep your pipes clean and free of clogs.