TikTok Is Wrong. Do Not Wash Your Beef.

A viral video could be bad for your kitchen plumbing

Ground beef
You probably shouldn't wash this after you cook it.
Nillerdk/Creative Commons

The internet abounds with images and videos of terrible things being done to beef. (Think “steamed hams,” but real.) The latest example of this is a video posted to TikTok earlier this month by one Emily Harper, who offered a bizarre solution to an understandable problem. While cooking beef, Harper was alarmed by the amount of grease and fat that accumulated in the pan. Her solution? Dumping the contents of the pan in a strainer and rinsing it off in the sink.

If your reaction to the idea of washing ground beef is to arch an eyebrow or stare quizzically into the distance, you’re not alone.

A new article by Dharma Noor at Earther goes into extensive detail about why washing your beef — yes, typing that felt very strange — is a bad idea. It’s not that wanting to avoid excess fat when you cook is a bad idea; that’s something that plenty of home cooks do.

The main issue comes from what happens when you wash grease and fat down a drain. Those can cause clogs in your own plumbing, but they can also wreak havoc on municipal waste systems. Remember the discussion around “fatbergs” not that long ago? Rinsing off cooked beef can help contribute to their creation.

There are a host of ways to dispose of grease and fat while cooking that don’t involve the bizarre spectacle of rinsing off freshly cooked meat. (A recent Lifehacker article provides a good overview.) It might not make for as viral a video, but your plumber will thank you in the long run.


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