Learning how to clean a stainless steel sink may seem simple, but it’s not as easy as you might think. Lime scale as well as food residue and soap suds can quickly build up from daily use. And these stains are not only difficult to remove, but can appear obvious and accentuated on a stainless steel surface.
Fortunately, there are methods you can use to control these stains, as well as remove embedded ones. And the good news is that you may already have what you need at home to get the job done. Here’s how to clean a stainless steel sink so it shines again.
How to clean a stainless steel sink
what you will need
distilled white vinegar
Cream of tartar (optional)
1. Empty and rinse — First of all, you can’t clean your sink while it’s full of cups and plates. Therefore, empty it and remove any food residue from the cap. Give it a quick rinse to remove immediate stains as well.
2. Scrub with soap — Next, you’ll want to use a few drops of dish soap and a non-abrasive sponge to give your sink a preliminary scrub. Be sure to cover the entire sink, including the walls, hidden cracks, and around the stopper hole. Don’t forget to give the faucet a spin too. Once you’ve done this, rinse off the soapy water.
3. Apply baking soda. While your sink is still wet, spray sodium bicarbonate on all surfaces. Baking soda is a great cleaning agent because it breaks down dirt and grease and can abrade stains, but it’s not abrasive enough to damage stainless steel.
4. Rub — Using your sponge (make sure it’s not abrasive), rub the baking soda in the direction of the grain of the stainless steel. The grain should be visible to the naked eye if you inspect the surface; you can also feel it if you run your fingers over it.
When combined with the wastewater, the baking soda should form a thick paste. Continue scrubbing until you have covered the entire surface. Do not rinse.
5. Spray with vinegar — For extra cleaning power, you’ll now want to spray distilled white vinegar over the baking soda. This will create a bubbling chemical reaction that dissolves and removes stains; that is What makes baking soda and vinegar so good for cleaning?.
This can smell quite strong, but vinegar is great at removing water marks and limescale, so it’s worth airing out the room and putting up with it. Wait until the solution stops bubbling and then rinse it off.
If you don’t have vinegar on hand, lemons are another option to use here. Simply cut one in half and rub a segment over the baking soda in the direction of the grain. Like vinegar, lemon juice is useful for removing limescale and also smells great. Rinse once you are done.
6. Solutions for tough stains — If the stains are still evident, you’ll need to get the big guns out. One option is to use a proprietary cleaner, such as the Therapy Stainless Steel Cleaning Kit ($19.95, Amazon (opens in a new tab)). If you are using alternative cleaners, make sure they are suitable for use on stainless steel; some cleaners and abrasive tools can damage this surface.
Alternatively, you can create a homemade solution by combining ¼ cup cream of tartar with 1 cup distilled white vinegar. This will form a paste that you can apply directly to stubborn stains. Gently rub it into place with a sponge, and then let it sit for a few minutes. Once the time is up, rinse off the solution and repeat the process if necessary.
7. Dry the sink — Once all stains have been removed, thoroughly dry the sink with a microfiber cloth. This is an important step because any residual water will form fresh watermarks, making your efforts redundant.
8. Apply olive oil and polish — Now that your sink is spotless, it’s time to make it shine. Apply a couple of drops of olive oil to a microfiber cloth and rub it on the stainless steel, moving it in the direction of the grain. Remove any excess and voila.
Your sink should now look like new! Here are some tips to keep your look flawless:
Tips to keep your stainless steel sink clean
- Remove any food residue and spot clean immediately. The longer you let them sit, the messier and more stubborn it can be to clean.
- Don’t leave puddles of water around your faucet. These can easily go unnoticed if you have turned the handles with wet hands. The puddles will leave lime and water marks once dry.
- Likewise, get into the habit of drying your sink after you’re done using it. This will reduce the number of watermarks in the future.
- Stay on top of sink cleaning and make it part of your regular routine. It will be much faster and easier to clean if you do this.
To keep your kitchen sparkling new, check out our guides on how to clean a microwave, how to clean an oven, how to clean a garbage disposal, and how to clean stainless steel appliances.