How to Clean a Stainless Steel Sink and Make it Look Like New

Walk into any kitchen and more often than not, you’ll find a stainless steel sink. There are lots of reasons that this type of kitchen sink is so popular, not the least of which being that it’ll go well with any kitchen design and is very durable and attractive, as long as you know the best way to clean a stainless steel sink.

How to Clean a Stainless Steel Sink

Most of us fall in love with the gleaming shine of new stainless steel appliances and fixtures in the kitchen, but admittedly, it takes a little effort to keep them that way. You might spend some time almost every day wiping the fingerprints from the front of your stainless steel refrigerator, but the sink probably gets less attention. Even though they don’t chip or crack, they can start looking dull and stained.

Don’t fret If your sink is looking less than its best because we can show you how to clean a stainless steel sink and bring it back to its original gleaming beauty.

How Often Do I Need to Clean a Stainless Steel Sink?

Like many items in your home, you’re probably not deep cleaning your sink often enough. The best habit to incorporate into your routine is to thoroughly clean the sink after you’ve been coming raw meat or poultry, or anything else potentially hazardous. After that, you want to deep clean a stainless steel sink at least once a week

What Tools Do I Need to Clean a Stainless Steel Sink?

Products i need to clean a kitchen stainless steel

While you can certainly opt for commercial disinfectants and stainless steel cleaners, you don’t actually need to purchase them if you don’t want to. When learning how to clean a stainless steel sink, most of the things you need are probably already in your pantry or cupboards. These simple items will help you take care of a dull finish, stains, as well as minor scratches.

  • Dish soap
  • Baking soda
  • Nylon scrub brush
  • Vinegar (white or cider)
  • Spray bottle
  • Cream of tartar
  • Microfiber cloth
  • Olive oil

Once you’ve assembled your tools and products, just follow this step-by-step guide for how to clean a stainless steel sink:

1. Rinse the Sink

You can’t effectively clean a stainless sink if it has scraps, bits of produce or last night’s dinner stick to the surface. Rinse everything away with hot water first, using some dish soap if something is really stuck to the surface of the sink.

2. Bring on the Baking Soda

Sprinkle baking soda all over the damp sink, covering the surfaces. Make sure you get it on the sides a much as possible too. Baking soda is ideal because not only does it naturally neutralize odors, but it’s powerful enough to clean the surface without scratching or marring the stainless steel. Even better, it’s completely non-toxic.

3. Start Scrubbing

Now it’s time to grab your soft nylon brush and start scrubbing, but make sure that you go “with the grain.” You will have noticed that the metal has a grain that goes in a specific direction and you’ll want to follow that to be most effective.

You can use an acrylic or nylon scrubbing pad too, as long as it’s not very abrasive. By the same token, you never want to use any type of abrasive substance or material such as steel wool, steel brushes or other abrasive because they can damage the surface.

As you scrub, the baking soda will start to make those tiny scratches disappear or at least become far less noticeable. If you have any grimy spots that need extra attention such as crevices or the seam around the drain, grab an old toothbrush to work on those.

4. Add Vinegar

Before you rinse away the baking soda, pour plain white vinegar into the spray bottle and spray it all over the surface of the sink that you just scrubbed. When you do it’ll start fizzing and bubbling, so let sit for a few minutes and do its magic.

The vinegar is also what will help get rid of any calcium-based spots thanks to its natural acidity. Even better, vinegar is a great disinfectant. When the fizzing stops, rinse everything very thoroughly and dry it with a cloth. If the sink was super dirty to begin with, you can do this step a second time.

5. Treat Any Remaining Stains

If the sink still has a stubborn stain that didn’t go away in the initial cleaning, you can spot treat it with a mixture of vinegar and cream of tartar. Combine one cup of vinegar with one-quarter cup of cream of tartar and use that to scrub the stained area. If you prefer, you can also make a paste of equal parts vinegar and cream of tartar, which is also handy for almost any surfaces in your home.

Whichever mixture you choose, apply it to the stain, gently rub it, and then let it sit for about five minutes. Then, thoroughly rinse the sink and dry it with a cloth. While this works really well, it should not be your go-to method for cleaning the whole sink. Stick to the previous steps using vinegar and baking soda for general cleaning.

6. Make it Shine

Ok, so when looking at how to clean a stainless steel sink, this step might not be necessary for cleanliness, but it sure does make the sink look fabulous. After the sink is clean and dry, put a just few drops of olive oil on a cloth and buff the sink and hardware until it’s gleaming and gorgeous. Be careful not to use too much oil, or you’ll just end up with a greasy sink.

Some Random Tips for How to Clean a Stainless

Wear Rubber Gloves

Vinegar and baking soda are non-toxic and great for all kinds of household cleaning jobs, but that doesn’t mean they’re great for your skin. Baking soda in particular can make your hands feel dried out.

No Vinegar?  Try Lemon.

If you find that you don’t have any vinegar, some people find success in cleaning a stainless steel sink using just baking soda and water for the first scrub, and then a second pass with a lemon half. The acidity on the lemon is similar to vinegar and should do the trick.

The Flour Polish Method 

An alternative to polishing a stainless steel sink with olive oil is to use regular flour from your pantry. Make sure that you’re starting with a clean and fully dry sink – using flour is how to polish, not how to clean a stainless steel sink.  All you need to do is sprinkle a thick dusting of flour into the sink and start rubbing. Use either a paper towel or a soft cloth, but just remember to keep buffing. When you’re done do not rinse the flour down the drain. This can cause a clogged drain. Instead, wipe the floor out of the sink.

Prevention is Good

Preventing water spots and stains is the best idea and it’ll make a deep clean go much faster and easier. Thoroughly cleaning the sink after you use will help keep it clean. Also, water spots happen when you leave water to air dry on the surface of stainless steel, so it’s always a good idea to wipe out the sink when you’re finished using it.

Any of these methods for how to clean a stainless steel sink will restore it to shining beauty as well as get it very clean. As we already noted, you probably need to clean the kitchen sink more than you are already doing, but incorporating a deep clean once a week will go a long way to keeping a stainless steel clean and sanitary.