Bring Back The Shine: How To Clean A Stainless Steel Sink

The kitchen sink is something we use every day. We’re either washing dishes or our hands, rinsing out vases, filling a pot or just getting ourselves something to drink. The tasks we do with it are endless.

Since we’re looking at it all the time, day in and day out, it’s easy to miss the fact that things are getting a little dark and dingy.

Look closer at the drain rim, see some darkening stains? Eyeball the sides a little more carefully, you’ll likely notice some dingy buildup.

Here’s how to bring back that shine…it’s easier than you think and no special tools required!

For General Care:

First put in the plug and fill it with hot soapy water, drain. Next choose one of the following methods…

  • Use a soft cloth soaked in some white vinegar and scrub the surface…or…
  • Sprinkle baking soda all over then gently scrub it down with a damp sponge

For tougher jobs:

  • Linda Cobb suggests mixing 3 parts cream of tartar with 1 part hydrogen peroxide and then using a damp cloth, massage the mix into the surface. Let dry then wipe with a damp cloth.
  • 1 part vinegar, 1 part hot water, 1/2 part baking soda. Scrub mixture into surface using a damp sponge or cloth. Rinse well then dry with a rag.
  • I’ve also been told a tip to spray a layer of hot water over the sink to cover, then spray a layer of household ammonia. Cover with a plastic bag (stretched across the top with ends taped down on counter top) and leave overnight. Rinse the ammonia off in the morning then wash with hot, soapy water and dry with a rag.

To make it sparkle:

  • Wash the surface well then rub in baby oil, or olive oil, or windex and buff dry with a soft cloth

Good scrubbers to use:

  • Soft nylon bristle scrubbers or nylon pot scrubbers. Don’t use anything too abrasive that will scratch the stainless steel.

Now that you have it sparkling fresh again, you’ll really notice how it brings the sink area back to life. It looks so much nicer, and Bonus! you didn’t have to buy any new equipment to make it happen :).

The ingredients listed above are all gentle and not too abrasive so they shouldn’t scratch the stainless at all…just don’t overdo the muscle action. Use some pressure, but let the powder/mix do the work for you.

Depending on how much use the sink gets, I would advise adding this to your monthly To-Do list. Why wait until things start looking nasty? Just sprinkle some baking soda around the surface, wipe it down well with a damp sponge and things are in good shape for another month.

Another thing I like to do on a regular basis is pour boiling hot water down the drain (both drains if you have a duo-sink setup). This will flush out food bits that are still hanging around and if you add some household vinegar and baking soda, it will also freshen up the pipes. If you notice any nasty smells but the sink is draining just fine, this trick will help with that.

Print Print    Email Email

What Readers Are Saying: 23 Comments
  1. Julia says:

    after cleaning stainless sink, spray with WD40 and massage it in with paper towel. In addition to a great shine, this makes your next clean up easier too.

  2. dave rider says:

    Would this effect the septic system?

  3. Sabrina says:

    The baking soda, vinegar, water worked awesome and then olive oil for a shine! Thanks 🙂

  4. Agnes says:

    You can get the stainless steel sinks REALLY clean with the “Magic Sponge” by Mr. Clean–the white sponge–dampened with water. My sinks have a “grain” to them, and if you wipe with the grain, then rinse with warm water, then dry with a towel/paper towel—-presto, clean and shiny sinks!!

  5. Barbara says:

    Just finished cleaning the outside of my stainless steel kettle. After many years of not cleaning the kettle came up beautiful. It was not hard todo either only took me half an hour to do while I was waiting to go out. Now I can see myself in it. Lovely Thank you. I will be using more of your tips for cleaning

  6. Dorothy says:

    First I used the vinegar and baking soda on a sink that had not been cleaned for years (bachelor tenant). All the stains disappeared. So, to get it even more clean, I tried the peroxide and cream of tartar. It wiped off even more grime and left it looking almost new. Tonight, I’m going to use the hot water and ammonia covered with plastic, just to see if it gets even better. Thanks so much for the tips. Now we will not have to replace the sink.

  7. Lisa says:

    I tried the cream of tartar & peroxide on one area of my sink and it seemed to oxidize the finish, a lot of black came off on my rag. It left it looking shiny but every little scratch seemed to be highlighted. So then I tried the baking soda & vinegar and also the magic sponge. Either of these methods would work great except for they do not take off the hard water deposits. I’m going to try something else to take those off and then one of these methods should work for keeping it shiny. Thanks!

    • Jessica says:

      Hard water deposits: Try soaking a cloth in vinegar and leave sitting on the hard water deposits for an hour or so (overnight if they are super tough). I did this and it worked wonderfully!

      • Kathy says:

        use The Works toilet bowl cleaner for the hard water deposits, I know it’s sounds crazy but I’ve used it and it does wonders. Just make sure to use gloves when cleaning with it.

  8. Kay says:

    I want to get rid of bacteria and brown discoloration. Not worried about shine.

  9. Carole says:

    have used vinegar for years, awesome for buildup. My Daughter just bought an older house that had lots of build up on faucets and windows so after reading an article to heat up the vinegar I placed a cloth over the faucet and damped it a few times over a l/2 hr period and bingo all of the build up is gone, Much faster. love, love the fact that I am not using chemicals and can’t beat the budget……..

  10. Barb says:

    Need help with tiny brown spots that appear to be rust (brand new sink, just moved in about two weeks ago). Tried windex and magic eraser, but they don’t come out. What next?

    Also, is it best to use those sink liners to keep from getting scratches in the sink? I’ve never had a stainless steel sink before and I’m not sure what I did wrong already.

  11. Arnie says:

    Can I use bleach to clean a s/s sink

    • Vickie says:

      No, don ‘t use bleach. My brother is a welder and he said stainless steel has a type of “finish” on it. It’s not a finish that is applied. It occurs naturally during the process of making stainless steel. He said that over time bleach will remove the finish. Once that finish is gone it can’t be brought back and eventually rust will appear. So,…no bleach on stainless steel.

  12. david says:

    i have a sink and was wondering if damage could be done to finish with bleach on stainless steel.

  13. Karen says:

    I have a SS sink that looks like someone spilled something in it, and it actually made the sink almost a black color. Help!!

  14. Irma says:

    How can I remove stripes of a SS?

  15. marlene says:

    information on the ss sink I have says not to use bleach it will harm the finish

*Comments Are Moderated