House Grail is reader-supported. When you buy via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you. Learn more.

How to Clean a Stainless Steel Sink (Quick & Easy)

stainless steel sink basin

stainless steel sink basin

Chances are, your current kitchen sink is stainless steel. Over 70% of sinks manufactured today are stainless steel sinks, and there are several good reasons for this.

Stainless steel sinks are practically indestructible, do not bend to extreme heat, do not stain, and are a great budget option for the kitchen renovator or builder.

Just because it’s an inexpensive option, stainless steel sinks don’t have to look cheap or dingy. As long as you know how to keep it clean, it will be pleasant to look at every day you are in your kitchen for years to come.

Plus, they are extremely easy and fast to clean!

We’ve got you covered with instructions and tips on how to keep your stainless steel sink shiny like it just came out of the box.divider 4

Preventative cleaning

Image By: RonPorter, Pixabay

Stainless steel sinks thrive on frequent cleaning, it is impossible to clean them too much. They will not wear out from excessive cleaning, and will in fact keep their great look if you do so. Keep this in mind as you read our “how to clean” tips.

The best things you can do to keep your stainless steel sink clean are:
  • Rinse with warm water
  • Dry the sink completely
  • Don’t leave anything sitting on the sink for long periods of time

This should be done to wash away chlorine found in dish soap and water, which can cause unsightly water marks in your sink. These are the easiest, quickest, and best ways to keep your stainless steel sink shiny over a long period.

Before You Begin

stainless steel sink-pixabay
Image By: balog, Pixabay
If you have not followed the preventative cleaning measures, or you inherited a disgusting sight in your kitchen sink, gather these items before you start scrubbing:
  • Rubber gloves
  • A cleaning agent like Barkeeper’s Friend
  • OR baking soda and vinegar
  • A green scouring pad (like ScotchBright)
  • OR a dish rag
  • OR a sponge
  • ¼ cup cream of tartar and vinegar, for tough spots
  • Drying towel
  • Tough stain cleaner/towel
  • Club soda, for extra sparkle
  • Oil and buffing towel, for shine
DO NOT use these things when you are cleaning your sink:
  • Stainless steel wire scrubber
  • Carbon brush
  • Steel wool

Using these things could cause scratches in your sink and even leave iron residue, causing rust to form inside the sink.

Alright, now that you have everything you need, let’s begin the cleaning process.

divider 6

How to Clean a Stainless Steel Sink

1. Rinse with warm water

Like we mentioned before, usually all it takes to keep a stainless steel sink clean is a rinse of water and complete drying with a towel. If your sink is already very clean try this step first.

If you need a more thorough clean, do this step anyway, as it gives your next powder cleaner of choice a liquid base to work with.

2. Apply Barkeeper’s Friend or baking soda

Next, you will apply your cleaner of choice. Powder cleaners like Barkeeper’s Friend or baking soda will help bring some abrasion to your cleaning power. These products will deeply clean your sink with small gradules, but not scratch the sink at all.

You may choose to use just one of these products, or start with one and follow up with the other. Like we said before, you can’t clean a stainless steel sink too much, so it’s worth a try if you need to apply two coats of cleaning solution.

3. Scrub with the grain – not against it

Now, take your cloth, sponge, or green souring pad and scrub the cleaning solution all over the sink. Try to scrub in the direction of the grain, so you know you are getting in every groove of the sink and to ensure you do not scratch in a different direction.

4. Rinse with water

After the intense scrub, rinse out the sink with water again to wash the cleaning solution away. This will give you the chance to look the sink over once more, admire your hard cleaning work, and look for any remaining stains.

5. Clean tough spots

Once the solution is cleared, you may see some stains that did not come out with scrubbing. This is where cream of tartar comes in.

Mix ¼ cup of cream of tartar with one cup of vinegar (or a smaller ratio, if you don’t need that much vinegar solution). Use a cloth to apply this solution only in the spots with remaining stains (over the whole sink is not necessary at this point).

Let the solution sit for 5 minutes, then rinse away and repeat if needed.

6. Dry the surface with a towel

Hopefully by now your sink is grime and stain free. Now, complete the process by drying the sink with a dry towel.

This is another thing you should do after every time you use the sink. Hard water marks and other water sitting on the sink will cause it to look dirty if wiped up.

7. Shine

For an added sheen, apply baking soda (again, if you did already) with a little bit of vinegar and scrub again while the solution fizzes.

Another fizzy shiny solution is to use club soda. Plug the sink using the sink stopper and pour some club soda in (a few cups or more should do it). Use a cloth to scrub around the sink once more, drain, then rinse and dry.

8. Oil

For extra credit, consider oiling the sink for a super shiny look. Grab some olive oil (or any cooking oil), blot on a towel, and buff the sink. Your sink might even look better than when it came out of the package, if you do this step.divider 7

Why You Can’t Let Things Sit on a Stainless Steel Sink

If you want your sink to stay clean for a long time, do not make it a habit to house your dishrag, sponge, dirty or drying dishes in or on the sink. While this is a convenient thing to do, the chlorides from dish cleaners and water, if left sitting on the surface of the sink, will discolor or stain your stainless steel sink.

This is why it’s best not to let stuff sit on the sink. Drying it completely after use will also prevent any stains from forming.

divider 1


Congratulations! You now have a sparkling clean sink that looks perhaps better than new. Keep it clean by following our preventative cleaning tips. Laziness in this area is sure to result in a tougher cleaning job later, which is not so pleasant to squeeze in before guests come over for dinner!

Featured Image Credit: Brett_Hondow, Pixabay


Related posts

OUR categories

Project ideas

Hand & power tools