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How to Clean Porcelain Sink: 5 Steps (with Pictures)

cleaning bathroom sink

Porcelain sinks can be lovely in bathrooms and kitchens alike. However, they require a bit of extra attention when it comes to cleaning. While porcelain surfaces are non-porous, they can be very susceptible to staining. If you want them to remain white and spotless, you will need to put a bit of work in.

Luckily, there are several things you can do to work smart when it comes to cleaning your porcelain sink. If you tackle this cleaning job correctly, you can keep your porcelain sink white and flawless without spending hours scrubbing.

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Cleaning Problems with Porcelain

There are several reasons that porcelain sinks are tough to keep clean. Firstly, they tend to dull with time. This means that they won’t look entirely as white as they once did. They do not age particularly well. There is little you can do about this; it is merely an issue with porcelain in general.

Rust stains are an obvious problem when it comes to porcelain. If your water has a high amount of iron, rust stains can develop quite quickly. Furthermore, regular bathroom activities like nail polish and hair dyes can strip the porcelain of its coating, which can cause all sorts of problems and stains.

In kitchens, porcelain sinks are easily stained with food. Coffee grounds, food scraps, and tea bags can all stain porcelain sinks quickly. Silverware, plates, and pots can scruff the porcelain as well, making it stain easier and less able to withstand daily wear and tear.

Porcelain sinks can scratch easily, which can cause issues when it comes time to clean them. Many traditional cleaning products can leave them scratched and remove the coating. Over time, this makes the sink less able to withstand staining and can limit its lifespan.

There are several ways you can tackle these cleaning problems, however. We’ll look at all these ways in this article.

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1. Use Liquid Soap

liquid soap
Image Credit: Karolina Grabowska, Pexels

For regular, everyday cleaning, you should use warm water and liquid soap. This should help you remove things like food scraps and toothpaste, which can stain the sink if left there over time. Warm water and dish soap are both very gentle, so there is little chance that they will damage the sink.

After you give the sink a quick wipe-down with liquid soap, rinse it thoroughly with water and dry it with a dishtowel. You should use this chance to identify any areas that will require deep cleaning. You should also identify any scuff marks are other areas where the sink may need some extra attention.

2. Remove Discoloration

Your next step is to remove discoloration. This includes staining and areas where the sink has simply worn-down overtime. While your first thought may be to scrub away the stains, this can cause severe damage to the porcelain. Instead, you will need to use special cleaning products to dissolve the stains and whiten the porcelain sink.


For white porcelain, you can use bleach for this purpose. It can remove the stains with ease and will not damage the porcelain in the process. If you have a vintage or colored porcelain sink, you should not use bleach. It can strip the coating and the color. Instead, use liquid oxygen bleach. You can also use this sort of bleach for white porcelain, though it will take a bit longer to work than other options.

Begin by pouring the cleaning product into a spray bottle. Put down a thin layer of paper towels on your sink. They should be plain, white paper towels without any decoration or coloration on them. You don’t want to stain your sink while you’re trying to clean it.

Then, spray the bleach over the paper towels in your sink. You should spray enough to soak the paper towels thoroughly, but they shouldn’t be falling apart or floating in bleach. Leave the bleach product to sit in the sink for at least 30 minutes. For intense stains, we recommend letting it sit for at least an hour.

Once you’ve waited the prescribed period, discard the bleach-soaked paper towels and rinse the sink thoroughly. You may want to give the sink another wash with liquid soap to ensure that all the bleach has been removed. This is especially important in homes where children are present or for sinks in the kitchen.

White Vinegar

Image Credit: Evita Ochel, Pixabay

If you have a very old porcelain sink, you may not want to use something as strong as bleach on it. It can be difficult to figure out exactly what coating antique sinks had, as they were made differently back then. For this reason, you may want to use undiluted white vinegar as an alternative. In this case, spray the solution directly onto the sink. Do not use any paper towels or anything of that sort. Then, clean the porcelain in circular motions with a soft, non-abrasive sponge.

Remember not to scrub the porcelain, as this can create all sorts of problems. Instead, you simply want to spread the white vinegar around as much as possible. Rinse completely with water once you are done.

3. Get Rid of Deep Stains

Deep, inset stains may require a bit more work than simply using bleach. Alternatively, not everyone is able or comfortable with using bleach. In these situations, you may need to use an alternative cleaning method to get rid of the deep stains that have been there for a while.

As long as you are very careful, you can use a mild abrasive for this purpose. It is extremely important that it is a mild abrasive, however. Using anything too strong can cause significant problems and may hurt your sink more than it helps.

Luckily, there are a few mild abrasive soaps that are designed to be used with porcelain. It is easiest to find these soaps online, as your average store may not carry these very niche cleaners. When you do use an abrasive cleaner, you should only use a very small amount. Squirt it onto a soft, non-abrasive sponge and do not scrub.

Instead, simply spread the cleaner around the porcelain and then allow it to sit according to the directions on the bottle. You should not use these products very much, as it can cause discoloration and scratching.

4. Remove Metal Stains

The previous three steps should have helped you remove food stains. However, metal stains are much more difficult to remove and will likely need specific attention. Metal stains are typically rust-colored and are caused by silverware or high iron contents in the water. With the right steps, you can safely remove these stains.

First, add a few drops of lemon juice or white vinegar onto the metal stain. Only use one or the other. In this case, more is absolutely not better. Let the drops sit on the stain for a few minutes, and then wash them away with water. This should remove most rust stains. Do not scrub with the acid, as this will cause damage to your porcelain sink.

For extreme metal stains and those that are particularly stubborn, use naval jelly instead. This is available online and at some home supply stores, though it is a rarer product than most cleaning supplies. Apply a thin coat of the jelly to the metal stain.

You will need to allow the jelly to sit on the stain for a few moments. However, you should be very careful, as it can cause discoloration if you let it sit for too long. Watch the jelly and wait for a change in the color of the stain. Then, wash it off immediately with water.

5. Reglazing Porcelain

Over time, the glaze on porcelain simply becomes old and will start to discolor. This is not a matter of cleaning, though. If the discoloration is caused by aging, there is little you can do to return the glaze to its previous color. However, it is somewhat easy to reglaze porcelain sinks at home, which will bring the sink back to its shiny old self.

Before attempting to re-glaze, you will need to get the sink as clean as possible. This is why we have placed this step towards the end. Even if you are planning on reglazing your sink, you will need to do all the previous cleaning steps first. Otherwise, the glaze may not stick, or you will permanently glaze the stains into your sink.

You will need to purchase a glazing kit before you begin. These can be purchased online and at many home supply stores. Follow the instructions on the kit to reglaze your sink and breathe some new life into it.

If you’re nervous about reglazing the sink yourself, you can have a professional do it. The cost of this will vary depending on the size of the sink, as well as how severely scratched or stained it is. Even if you take excellent care of it, your porcelain sink will need to be re-glazed at some point.

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Featured Image: Karolina Grabowska, Pexels


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