Maintenance came to fix my leaking sink a week ago. I didn’t realize it until now that the sealant that they used in between the sink drain and sink basin is falling apart. Whenever I had filled my basin with water it would have chunks of this stuff floating. I assumed it was peanut butter. Tonight, when picking it out of my sink it felt rubbery and that seemed strange to me. I realized it was coming off around the drain /strainer (not exactly sure what it’s called). It smells like mechanical grease. Is this normal for it to come off and get soft like putty? Is it toxic to me and my kids? You would think that anything to do with a sink would be waterproof.

  • 1
    "Is it normal for it to come off?" It should have been cleaned up by the maintenance guy and you should have never seen it. If you still see some squeezing out of the drainer flange, just wipe it up with your finger, wipe that onto some paper towel, then wash your hands with soap & water when you're done. Plumber's putty is waterproof, it's just that there's extra and it wasn't cleaned up properly.
    – FreeMan
    May 6, 2022 at 12:17

1 Answer 1


That's called plumber's putty. It gets used between the drain and the basin, but usually the excess that squeezes out when the drain ("tailpiece") gets tightened is cleaned off. I'm concerned that your drain wasn't tightened properly if the putty is still coming out. Check underneath for leaks.

Toxicity-wise, it seems somewhat inert. This is from the Oatey brand plumber's putty SDS:

SECTION 4 First-aid measures
Description of first aid measures

If this product comes in contact with eyes:

  • Wash out immediately with water.
    • If irritation continues, seek medical attention.
    • Removal of contact lenses after an eye injury should only be undertaken by skilled personnel.

If skin contact occurs:

  • Flush skin and hair with running water (and soap if available). Seek medical attention in event of irritation.

Inhalation: If fumes, aerosols or combustion products are inhaled remove from contaminated area. Other measures are usually unnecessary.

Ingestion: Immediately give a glass of water.

  • First aid is not generally required. If in doubt, contact a Poisons Information Centre or a doctor.
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    First-aid measures "If skin contact occurs"? Well, I guess I've been doing it wrong all these years. I scoop out a bit with my bare hands and roll it between my hands until I have a length long enough to encircle the drain.
    – Glen Yates
    May 6, 2022 at 15:13
  • Agreed, @GlenYates. That's actually the instructions on the tub. Then, when you're done, wash with soap & water before eating your ham sammich for lunch. If your hands are irritated by the chemicals in the putty, seek medical attention (and wear gloves in the future).
    – FreeMan
    May 6, 2022 at 16:39

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