How to Clean Stainless Steel Sink: A Complete Guide

Stainless steel sinks are a favorite for many homeowners. They’re sleek and shiny and look classier than many other options. Stainless steel is also known for durability. Stainless steel sinks won’t chip, crack, or fade.

However, these sinks can be difficult to clean, and it can be quite noticeable when they’re dirty. If you’ve been wondering how to restore your stainless steel sink to its original, shiny glory, look no further. I’ve put together an easy-to-follow how to clean stainless steel guide so you can easily get your sink looking brand new again.

How Often To Clean a Stainless Steel Sink

First, some tips on how often you should clean your stainless steel sink. Trust me, you’ll have a much easier time cleaning your stainless steel sink if you do it more than just a few times a year before guests come over.

With each sink use you should rinse it with warm water. Rinsing your sink after washing dishes will get rid of food and dish soap residue. To really keep your sink in top shape, you should also dry it after rinsing with warm water on a daily basis.

If you’ve been rinsing your sink after use, you should only need to deep clean it once every couple of weeks.

Don’t use this number as an end all command though. If your sink looks dirty, has food stuck on the steel, or is looking dull, that means it’s time for a deep clean. Wondering how exactly to deep clean? Here’s a step-by-step guide.

Steps For a Clean Stainless Steel Sink

You sink could have food stains, rust, soap build-up, or coffee grounds like mine. No matter what’s causing the mess, this cleaning guide should help

Ready to get your kitchen sink clean? This step-by-step guide will get your sink looking like-new again with minimal effort and time on your part! Let’s get started.

1. Rinse the Sink

You need to start without chunks, grains, or other bits of food, so rinse your sink well.

Start by rinsing your sink well in hot water. If you have an in-sink dispenser you can run it a couple times to make sure it isn’t clogged.

The cleaning process is easiest if you start with a somewhat clean surface. If there are bits of food stuck on the sink you can let hot water run over them for a few minutes until they loosen and come up on their own.

2. Coat the Sink

Fill the sink with as even a layer of baking soda as you can along the entire surface.

Filling a sink with baking soda is one of the magic ingredients in stainless steel cleaning. In fact, I often joke that either baking soda or vinegar or both can solve any cleaning problem you have. I’ve used them for cleaning the sink, cleaning the bathtub, getting rid of hair-dye stains, and even unclogging toilets.

To clean a stainless steel sink, you’ll start by coating the sink with a thin layer of baking soda. Do this on a damp sink, which will help the baking soda stick. This will allow you to coat the edges of the sink as well as the bottom.

3. Scrub in the direction of the grain

Gently scrub in the baking soda to start cleaning.

Once you’ve layered on your baking soda, you can start scrubbing it into the stainless steel. There are a few important notes here.

  1. Don’t use a highly abrasive scrubber. Steel wool with damage your sink and cause rust. Even the scratchy side of a normal kitchen sponge can be too abrasive. Instead, use the softer side of a sponge or washcloth. You can use a toothbrush to clean around the drain and the corners.
  2. Wear gloves. Although you can see from the pictures that I didn’t put on gloves for this stage, I wished I had. The baking soda made my skin feel dry and uncomfortable. In general, it’s always smart to wear gloves when cleaning.
  3. Scrub in the direction of the grain. If your sink is brushed steel (you can see faint lines in the steel), scrub in the direction of those lines. This will help you clean better and will make your sink last longer.

4. Spray Vinegar

The reaction of white vinegar and baking soda works wonders for cleaning hard water stains as well as unclogging drains and toilets.

Once you’ve got the baking soda scrubbed into the kitchen sink, it’s time to spray in white vinegar and watch the chemical reaction happen. The vinegar and baking soda will begin to bubble, which helps thoroughly clean the stainless steel sink and remove hard water stains.

This is easiest if you have a spray bottle and can spray the white vinegar evenly over the kitchen sink. If you don’t have a spray bottle, you can pour slowly and carefully, trying to evenly disperse the vinegar.

5. Rinse the Kitchen Sink

If your second rinse pulls up as much dirt as mine did, you can repeat these first steps again before continuing. 

Let the vinegar and baking soda sit for at least five minutes. Once the bubbles have subsided, then you can rinse the sink again.

If your sink still looks especially dirty or the baking soda/vinegar solution turns brown, you may want to repeat steps 2 through 5 again. If there’s just one small stubborn stain, keep reading this guide for spot targeting.

6.  Dry

Use a soft, non-shedding towel to dry the sink to avoid water spots.

After you give your sink a rinse, use a cloth to dry it off. You should always dry your sink after cleaning to avoid water-spots.

You want to make sure that the towel or washcloth you’re using doesn’t shed. You don’t want your clean sink to be filled with bits of fuzz! You can also use a paper towel for drying your sink, though it may take more than one since you also don’t want paper pieces in the sink.

7. Target

This power combo can tackle any especially difficult spots.

Now that your sink is dry, it should be easy to see any trouble spots that are still stained or dirty. If there are spots, don’t worry. Here’s how to target specific stains.

Mix one cup of vinegar with ¼ a cup of cream of tartar. This combination will clean difficult areas. Just rub in the mixture using a soft cloth, let sit for five minutes, and then rinse.

While this combination works well, you shouldn’t use it on the entire sink and you shouldn’t start with this mixture. It’s always best to start with the baking soda and only use this on areas that are still stained.

8. Buff the Sink

A bit of olive oil goes a long way in bringing extra shine to your stainless steel sink. 

Finally, the last step in making your sink look great is to buff the sink using a cloth and a few drops of olive oil. This will add some shine to the steel as well as create a protective layer to keep your sink cleaner for longer.

One important note here is that you want very little olive oil. If you add too much oil, your sink will look greasy instead of shiny. If you do add too much, you can use a clean towel to wipe some of the oil away.

Another note is that, while olive oil can make the steel look great, you should only use it to buff the sink. Wiping down the handles and faucet will leave an oily residue that you don’t want on your hands when you’re trying to wash your hands or get a glass of water.

Voila, a clean sink!

As you can see, the finished sink is much cleaner than the original. By wiping down the sink every time you use it and carrying out these deep clean every couple weeks, your sink will be shiny, well cared-for, and easier to clean in the future.

Hope this guide on how to clean a stainless steel sink was useful!