Cleaning up after your dough is certainly a messy task. It can be tempting to turn the hot water on and just wash it all down your sink drain. But is this the best thing to do?
Does dough block your sink drain?
Yes, it can. Dough is a glutinous substance which makes strands to “web up” your drain, and trap other debris in the plumbing. Over time it becomes less water soluble and dries very hard. It’s best to avoid excess dough disposal down your kitchen sink.
There are some easy alternative steps that you can follow for any potential problems. This article has some better suggestions on what to do with your leftover dough.
How Dough Blocks Your Sink
Firstly, once dough is mixed up then it’s not very water soluble any more. This is because when the flour has hydrated, a chemical reaction has taken place and the dough is now more “solid”. We have stretchy gluten which forms when the protein in the flour meets water. So the thought of turning on the hot water and washing things away won’t always work.
I’ve found that rinsing any dough down the sink often leaves glutinous balls in my sink strainer plug. These end up hanging around for ages until I clean out the strainer.
Paper Mache Effect
Remember when you were a kid and you mixed up flour, water and newspapers and covered a balloon and let it dry? That’s what is going to happen somewhere along your pipes if the dough gets a chance to dry. Food particles, hair, grease are all things which can get washed down the drain to help clog things up.
Why To Avoid Dough Blockages
At best you are going to need to buy some drain cleaner and a plunger, and worst case is you have to hire out a professional to come and unblock your plumbing. You might even burst a pipe and get water damage. So the idea of prevention rather than remedying the situation is definitely better in this case. You will save money in the long term! Drain cleaning can be expensive.
As the wet dough is a safe haven for bacteria, you will find that your sink starts to smell bad pretty quickly. This obviously isn’t the healthiest environment for you kitchen.
How To Clean Up Dough Safely
The main aim is to get as least flour and dough down your sink as possible when you are working with dough. For any large pieces, that is best to go straight in your trash or saved for later.
Kneading can leave your hands covered in dough. I recommend combining your ingredients and leaving the mixture rest for 20 minutes before kneading. This allows the flour to absorb the water and it is much much less sticky on your hands. You’ll only need to knead for half the time and you won’t get much stuck to your hands. The addition of olive oil is also a good tip to prevent sticking. If you get dough stuck to your hands then rub them together over your bowl to remove most of the excess.
The next culprit is the mixing bowl. This is best wiped out with a paper towel or get yourself a plastic dough scraper to help clean up. The plastic dough scraper is an all round great tool as it has a curved side which works well with a bowl.
Alternatively you can let your equipment dry – your bowl, spoons, scraper etc. This lets the dough turn flakey, and then it comes away from the edge of the bowl really easily. You can now throw this out, and brush out all the flakes before washing the bowl in water as normal.
Finally, for any last bits of residue in your sink which can’t be removed, let your tap run for a little longer with some soap to wash it away.
What To Do With Leftover Dough?
You’ve got a few options here. Firstly if you have a lot left over, you can put your dough in the fridge until the next day. The cold temperatures slow down yeast fermentation and allow it to hold for longer without rising too much. Just make sure it’s in an airtight environment.
You can also freeze dough. Both freezing and refrigerating are usually best to do after you’ve shaped it, but not let it rise yet. Then you can allow it to rest at room temperature for it to rise and proof before going in the oven.
Lastly you could just take an idea from the article below, on a fun way to use up left over dough. This can be used for bread or pizza dough interchangeably. 22 Amazing Things You Can Do With Dough
How To Clean Your Sink
My first recommendation is getting a sink strainer. These are placed in your kitchen sink and can prevent any bits of dough going down. Then you can easily clean them out without further hassle.
If you’ve got a blocked drain then you can unblock it with some things you already have, or might need to buy some cleaning products. Boiling water from the kettle with some dish detergent seems the way to go, this article did an experiment to see why. You can also get a plunger or other equipment to dislodge the blockage.
While the dough going down your sink might not block it regularly, it’s an unnecessary risk that you don’t need to take. This article has some tips to easily throw away excess dough which doesn’t take any extra effort in your cleanup. Keeping the dough off your hands is a big challenge! Try letting the dough rest after mixing, to allow it to become less sticky in the kneading phase. And a plastic dough scraper is a godsend tool for any home baker to stay clean and tidy.