It doesn’t matter if we’re talking about the kitchen sink or the bathroom sink; they both take on a lot of dirty work. As a reward for all their hard work, they deserve some TLC. So let’s roll up our sleeves and learn how to care for the six most common sink materials.
It’s vital to keep stainless steel clean, not just for aesthetics but also to preserve the material’s
integrity. Keeping it clean will also lessen the chances of the sink getting corrosion damage. One of the strongest and most durable sink material options out there, stainless steel won’t get worn out or damaged by frequent cleaning; in fact, it thrives on it.
What to Avoid
Because stainless steel is so durable, there aren’t too many products that need to be avoided. However, when using any product that contains chloride, be sure to immediately rinse out the sink after washing. Chloride can corrode stainless steel if not rinsed out thoroughly.
The other items to avoid are steel brushes or steel wool. Bits of the brush or wool can get left behind and cause corrosion or rust. Although it is possible to get rust stains out of stainless steel, it’s best to avoid that altogether.
For this same reason, try not to leave cast iron or steel cookware in the sink for an extended period. Iron on top of steel with moister mixed in is likely to cause rust stains.
Lastly, as with any sink, for your health and the health of the sink, after dinner dishes are done, don’t let the wet sponge, rag, or cleaner sit to dry in the sink. Not only does this create the perfect environment for bacteria to grow, but it will also dull the appearance and finish of the stainless steel.
For regular cleaning, the best solution to keep a stainless steel sink clean and pretty is warm water and dish soap. Remember to always scrub in the same direction as the polish lines. Clean the sink out every night after all the dishes are done, and to avoid watermarks, dry it out with a hand towel. It’s that easy!
When looking for that extra sparkle in stainless steel, there are a few ways to achieve it. First, there is the club soda method. Place the stopper in the sink and pour some club soda into it. Then use a soft cloth and rub it into the stainless steel. As always, be sure to dry it out completely when finished to avoid water spots.
Remove Stains and Rust
Another way to achieve the “like new” sparkle is with baking soda and vinegar. Create a baking soda paste with warm water and scrub it all over the sink. The soda is rough enough to clean up any messes but gentle enough not to damage the sink. Once the scrubbing is over, pour vinegar over the baking soda. A chemical reaction will happen and will cause fizz. Don’t panic! That’s what we want to happen. The vinegar will disinfect while finishing the cleaning job. So again, dry out the sink completely to avoid water spots. This is also an excellent method for removing any stains in a stainless steel sink, including rust!
If a quick shine after a routine cleaning is what you’re after, drop some olive oil onto a soft cloth and rub it onto the sink. Ah, look at that sparkle!
Our last little tip is to use a toothbrush to get in those nooks and crannies. Food and bacteria can build up in those places, and we don’t want that in our kitchen!
Porcelain or Enameled Cast Iron
With proper and regular care, porcelain sinks will stay looking beautiful for years to come, and here’s how to do it.
What to Avoid
The surface of a porcelain or enameled cast iron sink is prone to getting scratched. To avoid this, do not use wire brushes or steel wool to clean a porcelain sink. These are far too abrasive and will leave scratch marks. Any stain or mess that needs to be cleaned start by washing it with hot water, a soft sponge, and dish soap. If the stain or mess does not come, then move on to the next step.
Try to remove harder stains by creating a paste of baking soap, warm water, and lemon. Use a cloth or soft sponge and rub this paste all over the sink in circular motions. Baking soda is abrasive enough to clean up tough stains but gentle enough not to scratch the surface. As always, rinse out the sink thoroughly after cleaning and enjoy a sparsely clean sink.
However, if there are watermarks in the sink, there’s a simple and easy solution. Plug up the sink and fill it with hot water. Add 1 to 2 cups of vinegar and leave it to sit for a few hours. When you come back and drain it, any watermarks should be gone or quickly rubbed off with a soft sponge. Afterward, rinse the vinegar out of the sink thoroughly. This is an essential step because the acidity in vinegar can damage the porcelain.
For really nasty stains that haven’t come out with previous steps, there is another harsher solution. It should only be used as a last resort because it could damage the porcelain’s finish and shine if used regularly. Sprinkle some salt over the stain, then some lemon juice. Then use a soft sponge to scrub at the stain. You can also let this sit for a couple of hours if the stain persists. Again rinse out the sink thoroughly to prevent damaging the sink.
To protect porcelain or enabled cast iron sink from future damage, it can be re-glazed with a glazing kit. Sometimes these are sold as porcelain tile kits. Just follow the instructions of the glaze. Another way to protect the sink without a glazing kit is by using baby oil and lemon. Apply this mixture to the sink with a soft cloth and reapply regularly to protect it from future damage.
Composite Granite or Quartz
There are many products in the cleaning aisle, and not only are they unnecessary, but some of
them could also damage the items in your home. Therefore, let’s go over what to avoid using on a composite sink.
What to Avoid
Do not use bleach or bleach products, wire brushes or steel wool, ammonia, oven cleaners, or drain cleaners. These are all too hard on a composite sink, and they will damage it. Always clean a composite sink with ph neutral cleaners if not using vinegar or baking soda. Still, to be safe, we always recommend using the simplest and most natural cleaning products.
Here’s how to clean a composite sink regularly. After the dinner dishes are done, clean out the sink with warm water and dish soap. After, rise it out and dry it thoroughly to prevent soap residue and water spots clouding up the finish. As always, gentle daily cleaning is healthier for the sink than heavy irregular cleaning.
For tougher stains that won’t come out with just soap and water, use a mixture of 50-50 water and vinegar. Spray that onto the stain and let the magic happen. Similarly, you can create a paste with warm water and baking soda. Rub that onto the stain and scrub in circular motions. The baking soda is gritty enough to clean away a stain but won’t scratch or damage the sink. Again rinse out the sink afterward and dry it out to avoid water spots and the dreaded white haze.
If you’re unsure of the white haze, it’s merely a whiteish stain that can appear on composite sinks over time. It’s caused by minerals from the water and cleaning products being left to dry, leaving
behind a residue that appears as a haze. To prevent this white haze, try to avoid using harsh cleaners or letting the sink air dry.
There are a few ways to remove it; however, before trying anything else, use a soft sponge or rag and clean it with regular dish soap.
Before we get into the cleaning and care of a copper sink, let’s cover the basics of what to expect
from a copper sink. Copper has what is called a “living finish” this means that over time, no matter what, copper is going to change in color and tone. This color change is called a patina. Most people are attracted to copper sinks because of this patina look and will be thrilled when it begins.
What to Avoid
Some things will strip the sink of its patina, and depending on what look is desired, this could be good or bad. Here are the types of things that will strip the patina: acidic foods such as citrus, tomatoes, ketchup, pepperoni, soda, and oils. Cosmetics like toothpaste, make-up, shaving cream. Harsh chemicals like bleach and drain cleaning products. Even the oil from our skin can affect the patina.
To avoid these products from striping the patina off a copper sink, always clean them up right away. The longer they sit in the sink, the more they will strip. If a spill has been missed and a bright copper spot is found later on, don’t worry; over the next several days, that patina will be back, and the sink will look as it did before.
If the patina is the desired look for a copper sink, care and maintenance are as easy as cleaning it regularly with warm water and dish soap.
If you don’t like the out-of-control patina, there are ways to control it better. You can purchase a copper armor kit (like this one here). Use this kit to keep the copper sink’s patina under control. Follow the directions on the product you’ve chosen, and as always, avoid any abrasive pads or sponges.
However, it’s essential to understand that copper sinks patina will never entirely be in control because it is a natural process.
Glass sinks are one of the easiest sinks to keep clean; the most challenging part about owning a glass sink is dealing with watermarks.
Every day, clean, rinse out the sink with water (inside and outside) and wipe with a towel. Then use a glass cleaner and spray that all over the sink. You can also use a mixture of vinegar and water. Next, use a dry, non-abrasive towel to wipe the sink down. To get a nice shine on the glass using a crumpled-up newspaper with glass cleaner and enjoy a streak-free shine.
For hard water spots and limescale build-up, use cleaners like Cinch Streak Free Multi-Surface Cleaner, Mr. Clean Antibacterial Multi-Surface Spray, or Formula 409 Glass & Surface Cleaner. However, do not use any abrasive powders, bleach, ammonia, alcohol, or chlorine on a glass sink. These types of chemicals and cleaning products will damage and dull the finish of the glass sink.
Ta-da! Yes, it’s that simple to keep a glass sink looking its best. Some might find the continual drying hard to keep up with, but in the end, you’ll be happy you did when a shiny sink welcomes you into the bathroom or kitchen.
Washing hands or dishes, dumping pasta water down the drain, piling up dirty dishes for days on end, it’s no wonder our sinks end up needed a bit of extra love. As we’ve seen, cleaning a sink regularly will be the best way to keep it healthy. Still, these tips and tricks will help you get a sink back to its original shine with some elbow grease and baking soda.