The Drain Offenders

We’ve all been there. It’s Saturday morning and you’ve just devoured a bacon sandwich. You brush the crumbs from your pyjamas and slink over to the hob – it is here that you realise you have a choice to make.

Should you:  A) soak up the fat with some kitchen roll and risk getting your hands dirty, or; B) empty the pan down the sink, turn on the tap and, as the old saying goes, ‘hope for the best’?

While we’d all like to think we’d pick option A, when it boils down to it, so many of us would risk it and take a punt with option B.

In fact, in Birmingham alone, as many as 68% of the city’s population admit to pouring fats, oils and greases down the sink – which may go some way in highlighting the issue of who Britain’s ‘drain offenders’ are when it comes to flushing nasties down the plughole.

In a world of misconceptions and a lack of clarity around what can and can’t be flushed, the team here at Lanes Group were keen to highlight some of the worst habits that we as a population are guilty of committing.

Drain Offenders Infographic

From Birmingham to Glasgow via Bristol and Cardiff, our survey polled over 1,100 individuals throughout 13 cities in a bid to shed some light on what the people of the UK are flushing down the drain. Because with over £15 billion being spent each year unblocking them, in our opinion, it’s an issue that seriously needs addressing.

In our survey, we asked an array of home owners what they’ve been flushing down their loos and sinks. From disposable nappies to condoms, cat litter and dental floss – we were amazed at the staggering number of people who have been getting it wrong here in the UK.

While Birmingham topped the table with a whopping 86.7% of the city’s population admitting to flushing unfriendly things down their drains, the likes of Edinburgh (80%), London (78.1%), Leeds (75.3%) and Cardiff (73%) completed the top 5 offenders.

Elsewhere, 2% of Liverpudlians admit to tipping cat litter down the toilet while 15% of their Mancunian neighbours confess that they’ve thrown paper towels down the drain at some point or another. In the north east, 7.7% of Newcastle’s Geordie population have flushed cigarette butts while a whopping 15.4% admit to chucking condoms down the loo.

With only 56% of the city’s population stating that they’ve flushed inappropriate items down the drain, Glasgow has the best record when it comes to looking after their plumbing. However, that isn’t to say that Scotland’s second city has an impeccable reputation – far from it!

While their overall score may be relatively low when compared to the likes of Birmingham, London and Edinburgh, 10% of Glaswegians admit that on the odd occasion, they’ve flushed medication down the plughole while 8% admit that they’ve thrown sanitary products down their drains.

With hundreds of thousands of blockages each year, it’s hardly surprising that so many of us here in the UK don’t fully understand what can and can’t be disposed of down the drain. From fatty greases to ‘flushable wipes’ (that aren’t actually flushable!), so many of us are getting it wrong – so it’s a good job there’s a handy rule to help us out!

By remembering the three Ps (toilet paper, pee or poo), there’s no excuse for getting it wrong the next time you find yourself wondering what to do with all that lovely bacon fat on a Saturday morning!

To learn more about what can and cannot be flushed down the toilet, why not try our new, educational game – Fact or Flush!



All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from TLF Research. Total sample size was 1,101 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 17th-30th November 2015.  The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK adults (aged 18+).



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