May 12, 2022
Plumbing Pipes in Las Vegas, Nevada

Updated: May 2023

While Snopes considered and largely disproved the old wives’ tale that vomit ruins plumbing, you can stop up your drains by vomiting into the sink. Only toilet plumbing can appropriately handle vomit.

Sometimes, though, you can’t make it to the toilet. You reach the sink first. No one can fault you for where you get sick when you fall ill. However, you could cause yourself plumbing issues if you choose the sink over another option like the trash can or toilet.

Why Is Vomit Bad for Plumbing?

You probably don’t want to study what you or another person threw up too closely, but you can trust us since we’ve had to clean up this type of mess many times, that we know that vomit consists of stomach acids and chunks of food mixed with whatever the individual drank.

People rarely chew each bite ten times or more, so vomit consists of large chunks of food. If the stomach had finished doing its job, it would disintegrate into the food liquid and quietly pass out of the individual.

Vomiting produces an interruption to the body processing the food, though. This interruption causes the food to come back up almost precisely as it went in but is surrounded by smelly, sticky muck.

Cleaning the Sink Out

You or someone else vomited in the sink. It doesn’t have to clog your drain. You or another person can clean it up instead of trying to wash it down the pipes.

If you vomited, you probably want to get another household member to clean the sink since the process might cause you to throw up again. We recommend that whoever cleans out the sink wears a mask to block the smell.

Cleaning Out a Sink With a Food Compactor

The only time you can safely wash vomit down the sink drain occurs when you throw it up into a kitchen sink with a food or trash compactor attached.

In this case, you’ll want to use hot water to flush the vomit out of the sink and into the food compactor. Place the sink plug over the drain. Keep the water running and flip the switch to turn on the food compactor. After a minute, the food or trash compactor’s blades should cut up everything.

Turn off the water and remove the drain cover. Check the drain to ensure that all vomit is washed out and gets cut up.
Proceed to wash the sink with a mixture of vinegar and baking soda. Use a clean rag or sponge to wash off the sides and bottom of the sink. Rinse with hot water.

Cleaning Out a Regular Sink

Do not wash any of the vomit down a regular sink drain. The chunks of food can easily block the drain. Despite how large the drain appears from the top of the sink, an S-shaped or a P-shaped pipe attaches to it of about 1.25 inches in diameter. It’s smaller in diameter than a meatball. That’s why you should not try to wash anything down it.

Grab a trash can with a heavy-duty trash liner; vomit weighs a bit. You’ll also need a roll of paper towels. As quickly as possible, so the vomit doesn’t run down the drain, use a paper towel to wipe it out of the sink and put it into the trash can. This could take quite a few paper towels, depending on how much there is. Your goal here should be to ensure none of or very little of the vomit goes down the drain.

Once you’ve cleared the sink, you’ll need to clean it. For this, you can use the same vinegar and baking soda mixture as described for the food compactor sink cleaning. Once you’ve scrubbed it clean with a sponge or clean rag, you can rinse the sink out with hot water. The cleaning mixture should be the only thing you rinse down the drain.

Does the Acid in Vomit Hurt the Pipes?

No, your pipes remain safe from the stomach acid in vomit. During the 1980s and 1990s, a rumor circulated that some colleges had needed to replace their pipes at certain housing locations because students threw up so often in the toilets. The website Snopes refuted this, and we’ll back them up.

Toilets use a different set of pipes than sinks do. A toilet uses a 3- to 4-inch diameter pipe attached to a flange. These PVC pipes can handle icky stuff like vomit, urine, or excrement as they’re designed for such things.

Vomit Could Stop Up the Toilet

Here’s an expert tip for when you get sick. Flush after each vomiting retch. This clears the toilet bowl. You have room for the next round, as gross as that may sound.

As important as water conservation is, if you’re ill with norovirus or, for some other reason, you need to throw up repeatedly, you need to flush after each retch. This can also help you feel better since you won’t continue to smell what just came up.

You’re Sick and You Forgot to Flush in Between

When you’re ill, you probably won’t remember all of this plumbing wisdom. If you do stock up your toilet from vomiting multiple times without flushing, you can plunge it just as you would with any other drain blockage.

Grab your plunger. Carefully insert it into the toilet bowl. Gently plunge the bowl’s drain. You do not want anything to splatter, so push gently but firmly. It should only require two or three plunges to loosen the blockage.

When the level of vomit in the toilet bowl drops, you’ve successfully released the blockage. Flush the toilet. Everything should flush down it, and the bowl should refill with clean water.

Use the vinegar and baking soda mixture in the toilet bowl to clean it with a toilet brush. You’re just scrubbing off the sides of the bowl to get rid of any vestiges of vomit or chunks. You’ll also rid your bathroom of the awful smell.

Vomit Chunks Blocked the Sink or Toilet

Sometimes, despite your best efforts, you can’t clean up the vomit quickly enough to stop some of it from blocking the drain. When this happens, call in the professionals. At BEST Air Conditioning Plumbing Repair, one of our trained and expert plumbers can come out and clear your drains for you. Leave the messy jobs to us.

BEST Air Conditioning Plumbing Repair offers top-notch plumbing services in the Las Vegas, NV, area. We also serve nearby Henderson, Paradise, and Blue Diamond. Our plumbers will quickly service your location and make drain repairs as needed. We’ll unclog the lines so you can focus on feeling better. We can follow up the unclogging of your drain with drain cleaning, so you’re less likely to experience clogs in the near future. Call us when you experience sink or toilet clogs, and we’ll come to fix them for you. We also offer heating and cooling services and indoor air quality tests.

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