Is there anything nicer on a Sunday morning than waking up to the smell of sizzling bacon? Melt-in-your-mouth fried chicken, bacon, donuts—all delicious foods that are made possible thanks to grease and oils.
We love the rich flavors that grease can bring to our home cooking, but it can be a real pain to figure out how to dispose of cooking grease without making a mess. Are you hesitant to try cooking with grease because you don’t know what to do with it after?
Luckily, knowing how to throw away cooking grease doesn’t need to be complicated. To learn more, keep reading to find the best ways to dispose of grease—plus one thing you should never do.
First, Know That Grease Should Never Go Down the Drain
Grease may be the word to John Travolta, but it’s no friend of your drain. It can be tempting to let grease and cooking oils run down into your kitchen drain since they’re liquid, but this isn’t a good idea.
Sure, hot grease is liquid now, but it won’t stay that way—grease and oil will congeal and harden as they cool, which blocks your drain and causes back-ups.
If you’ve put grease down your drain in the past, a professional plumber might be your best option to sort out the problem. However, if you want to do it yourself, try using caustic cleaners or make a mix of vinegar and hot water, which can help flush the oils from your drain.
Reuse Grease When Cooking
So, if it can’t go down the drain, what is the right way to get rid of cooking grease? One option is that many home chefs like to reuse grease.
Depending on what you’re cooking, greases and oils can be recycled and used again at least several times. It’s common to reuse oils when deep-frying, so why not try it out?
When cooking, use a splatter screen to help keep your grease in the pan, so that none is lost. Plus, this helps reduce the amount of grease that ends up on your backsplash or countertops.
Reusing grease saves money and is more environmentally-friendly since it produces less waste.
Strain and Clarify
If you want to reuse your oil, but it doesn’t look clean, you can strain it to improve impurities. Once the oil is no longer boiling but hasn’t yet cooled, you can slowly pour it through a fine strainer, or even a coffee filter.
This will take out any bits of food or unwanted solids, leaving you with clean oil that can be stored and used again. However, it can be a messy process if rushed, so go very slow to avoid overflowing your strainer.
Some chefs also use gelatin to clean oils after use.
Let It Harden
After your grease has been used enough times, you’re probably ready to dispose of it. One strategy that works for many home chefs is one that requires a bit of patience—letting it harden first.
You can’t just pour liquid grease into your trash can, as it’s going to make a big mess. Instead, when it comes to fats that will harden, like bacon grease, put it in the fridge until it’s become solid.
This shouldn’t take too long, so once it’s hard, you can simply scrape it out of the container and pop it into the trash. Or, for extra protection, you can place it in an airtight container first and then toss it out.
This strategy works best for grease and fats, rather than oils, which don’t solidify.
Place Grease and Oils In a Sealed Container
Another option for disposing of grease is to pour it into a container and place it in the trash. However, make sure you use something secure that won’t leak or fall apart—avoid cardboard boxes or milk cartons, for example.
Old coffee grounds cans, a plastic bottle, or a plastic milk jug are good options. Or, you can use a Tupperware container that you no longer need or want.
For small amounts of oil, you could also pour them into a bag of trash that has lots of absolvable materials, like newspaper or kitty litter. The solid materials will soak up the grease and you won’t need to worry about using a separate container.
Take to Recycling Facilities
Can leftover cooking grease be disposed of in an environmentally-friendly way? Many chefs aren’t comfortable with the idea of constantly tossing out grease into the trash.
Luckily, there are some recycling facilities that will accept oils. Contact your local recycling center to see if this is something they offer.
If so, just make sure you’re clear on what will or won’t be accepted. Generally, it makes sense to store your oil until you have a large amount, to save yourself multiple trips.
Or, another eco-friendly idea is to add your grease or oils to your home compost, but this should only be done in very small amounts.
Use These Tips to Know How to Dispose of Cooking Grease Safely
Greases and fats are amazing for providing us with delicious flavor in our foods, but they don’t need to cause you any stress. Now that you know how to dispose of cooking grease correctly, develop a routine that works for you.
All home cooks should have a plan for disposing of unwanted food waste, including grease and oils. This will keep your kitchen clean, avoid waste, and can help you become a more efficient chef!
Get started today and say good riddance to unwanted grease–safely!
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