Nothing beats the look of a pristine, clean, stainless steel sink in your freshly cleaned kitchen.
The scent of clean laundry and lemon wafts from the lit candle next to your china bowl full of ripe fruit. Your stainless steel sink shines like silver in the sunshine that pours in from your open windows.
Now, stop daydreaming and take a look at your actual sink. What do you see? Are dishes haphazardly stuck to each other with encrusted food, caked-on stains that are so old you cannot even remember their origins, and scratches from knives and forks flung carelessly into your sink in despair?
Will you ever be able to restore your sink to the way it looked when you first brought it home from the store?
Do not give up your dream of a spot-free stainless steel sink! With our simple DIY tips, you'll be equipped with all the knowledge necessary to learn how to clean a stainless steel sink to showcase it in all of its sparkly glory.
Prevention Is Key With Stainless Steel Sinks
Picture this. You are having guests over in 30 minutes, and the state of your stainless steel sink is so deplorable that your family might as well be a rat pack of dirty dish hoarders.
Save yourself the last-minute scrubbing stress by maintaining a clean sink regularly. Routine stainless steel sink cleaning costs less time in the long run and contributes to a positive daily environment.
After each time you use your stainless steel sink, you should rinse the sink basin with warm water. Once your sink is clean, dry it off with a microfiber cloth to prevent water stains. Create this habit for you and your household to avoid large messes in the future.
Personally, I like to use lemon halves when teaching others how to clean a stainless steel sink to utter perfection.
You can use lemon juice as a paste with baking soda to freshen up the scent of your sink. The clean citrus smell will permeate your kitchen, and the acidity from the lemon juice will remove any residual stains in your sink.
Toss the squeezed-out lemon halves into the garbage disposal to neutralize any persistent odors that might be lurking below. If you have limes on hand instead of lemons, you can also use lime halves and salt to cleanse your sink.
With this regular maintenance, you should only need to deep clean your stainless steel sink once every couple of weeks or after a messy event, such as a dinner party. Deep cleaning requires a bit more effort, but the results are worth the hard work.
Deep Clean a Stainless Steel Sink
To deep clean stainless steel, you have some technique options and may not need all of the items listed below.
Thankfully, you won't need an entire tool chest for this DIY task. Everything you'll need is very much affordable, and many people find they already have most of it on hand—possibly even under their kitchen sinks!
- Baking soda
- Spray bottle materials
- Olive oil vinegar
- Cleaning cloth
- Rubber gloves
- Lemon halves, lemon juice, or lime juice
- Measuring cups
- A timer
- Paper towel
- Additional cleaners
Finish collecting all of your household items, pull on your rubber gloves, grab your sponge, and get ready to clean a stainless steel sink!
Eight Simple Steps to a Glistening Stainless Steel Sink
Take any dishes, metal sink grids, rubber mats, or other items out of your sink. Once it's empty, use your water faucet sprayer to rinse the sink with warm water. To remove stubborn food particles, put some dish soap on a sponge and get scrubbing! The next step is to prep your sink with baking soda.
Baking soda is a crucial ingredient in many cleaning projects, as it's tough on stains of all types and deodorizes to some degree to boot. Coat your still damp stainless steel sink with baking soda paste.
Next, you'll need to use a little elbow grease and a cleaning cloth or sponge to scrub at the baking soda. Don't use a wool or steel scrubber or wipe the baking soda in an on/off motion. Instead, scrub in the direction of the grain.
After you finish removing the surface grime, it's time to move onto hard water stains. Vinegar acts as a water stain remover, restoring the surface of your sink. Fill your spray bottle with vinegar and mist the baking soda in your sink. These everyday household ingredients react like magic when you combine them, bubbling up and breaking down stains.
After about five minutes, the bubbling should subside. Buff the sink, then rinse off the vinegar and baking soda concoction. Wait for the mixture to swirl down the drain, then dry off your sink to avoid water spots.
If the baking soda and vinegar failed to get the job done, reapply the baking soda and vinegar, then try using lemon halves to scrub the leftover paste on the surface of your sink. Rinse the sink with water and thoroughly dry the surface of your sink again.
Are you still seeing stains on the surface of your sink? Then it's time to switch tactics. Create a mixture of one cup of white distilled vinegar and 1/4 cup of cream of tartar. Cream of tartar's high acid levels help removes tough stains.
Rub the vinegar and cream of tartar paste into the stain and allow it to sit for five minutes. When the stain is gone, rinse the sink with warm water and thoroughly dry the sink to prevent water spots. Repeat these steps until you have achieved your goal.
How to Clean a Stainless Steel: Sink Cleaning FAQ
How Do I Make My Stainless Steel Sink Shine?
If you want that like-new shine, buff the sink with a few drops of olive oil on a cloth in the direction of the grain. We recommend only applying the olive oil inside of the sink and not on the handles or faucet as the excess olive oil to avoid getting it on your hands later.
If you don't have olive oil or prefer not to use it, feel free to use an alternative oil of your choice, just aim for something that is pure oil without any additives.
What Is the Best Cleaner for Stainless Steel?
You don't need any special store-bought products to clean your kitchen sink. Just the household items mentioned here—baking soda, vinegar, lemon juice, and cream of tartar—are plenty to get the job done.
Which of these items will work best depends on the type of stain. Unfortunately, it's often a game of trial and error to see what works for your sink.
Does Vinegar Damage Stainless Steel?
Long-term exposure to vinegar can begin to corrode stainless steel, so you never want to do something like plug the drain and let a vinegar solution sit.
However, short-term exposure, like in the steps described above, is perfectly safe and an effective way to remove hard water stains. Vinegar will also kill bacteria, helping to keep down germs in your kitchen.
How Do You Remove Stains From a Stainless Steel Sink?
In most cases, the steps covered here will remove stains, excluding permanent forms of damage, such as acid pitting, which can't be removed as they are not simply surface stains.
Rust, though rare in stainless steel, may require a store-bought rust remover. I'd recommend getting both a cleaner and rust remover if you're sink has seen tougher times, and is in need of a deep clean.
In short, the best way to clean a kitchen sink is to avoid having to do so in the first place with regular maintenance. Make sure to rinse your sink after every use and use lemon juice spray about once a week to deodorize it and break down mineral build-up.
If you start to see stains, do a deep cleaning with a baking soda paste, lemon juice, vinegar, or cream of tarter. Remember, never scrub your kitchen sink with anything too abrasive, scrub in the direction of the grain, and consider adding a bit of oil to maintain your sink's shine.
Have other DIY home projects you'd like to tackle? Check out our other posts here at The Tool Scout, or feel free to ask any question you may have. We're always happy to help point you in the right direction!