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How to Clean Kitchen Sinks

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While kitchen sinks are generally durable and long lasting, they still require upkeep and maintenance. And a large part of that maintenance is cleaning.

It seems strange to clean your sink, After all, it deals with the most soap and water of any other feature in the kitchen. However, sinks can also get dirty. They can pick up stains, odors, and other dirt from whatever you end up washing.

In order to clean kitchen sinks, the key is to avoid harsh methods. Stick to gentle techniques and chemicals in order to preserve the sink material.

Continue reading for more tips on the best way to clean kitchen sinks.

You can also check out our other sink care guides for more information:

How to Choose a Farmhouse Sink

How to Remove Stains from Sinks

How to Install a Farmhouse Sink

Why You Should Clean Carefully

Although sinks are heavy duty fixtures, they’re still quite delicate. In fact, sinks made of out material like porcelain can chip, crack, and stain if you’re not careful. Similar materials, like ceramic, Fireclay, porcelain and cast iron, have the same issues.

This is because these sinks tend to be coated. They’re either painted, glazed, or covered in porcelain enamel. So while the base can last indefinitely, the surface requires a little extra care.

But even metal sinks, which are not coated, can have some of the same problems. Stainless steel and copper in particular, can have issues.

In order to preserve the delicate surface of any sink, the key is to be gentle with your cleaning.

What to Clean Kitchen Sinks With

Typically, the advice for cleaning sinks is to avoid harsh chemicals. However, it can be difficult to distinguish what is an is not a harsh chemical.

A good rule of thumb is to avoid anything that requires either dilution, or gloves. If the chemical isn’t safe to use on your skin, or in large amounts, it’s probably not good for your sink either.

Here are some chemicals that you should avoid while cleaning your sink:

  • Sodium hydroxide
  • Bleach
  • Ammonia
  • Calcium hypochlorite

It can be tempting to use these cleaners if you have harsh stains or odors in your sink, but don’t. Not only are they harsh on your sink, but you also have to extra cautious when using them.

You cannot mix cleaners like these together, and you can’t even mix them with gentler options, like vinegar. That’s why it’s better to opt for things that are less dangerous.

In most cases, you can use gentler cleaners, as long as you use them correctly. 

 Start by following the directions suggested on the product.  Manufacturers tend to give you instructions to get the best possible benefit out of their product.

You can also let cleaners soak in for a while, to get at stubborn issues. With grease cutting soaps especially, letting them soak leads to better, easier cleaning.  

As an alternative, check out these gentle cleaning options:  

  • A grease cutting dish soap, like Dawn
  • Most green cleaners
  • General kitchen or countertop cleaners
  • Baking soda and vinegar

Apart from chemicals, you also need to be gentle with how you scrub. Super abrasive scrubbers can lead to scratches, and can even exacerbate chips and cracks. Avoid things like steel wool, copper mesh, and scouring pads.

Here are some great alternative options for gentle scrubbing:

  • Non-stick friendly dish sponges
  • Soft bristle tooth brushes or scrubbers
  • Microfiber towels

There are plenty of other options as well. As long as the material isn’t too abrasive, it’s safe for your sink.  

How to Clean Kitchen Sink with Baking Soda

One great option for both cleaning and deodorizing, is baking soda. Baking soda is such an effective cleaning option because of its small grains. These allow you to get an abrasive effect, without the risk of scratches.

It also has a natural deodorizing effect. That makes it ideal for cleaning up food residue.

In order to use baking soda to clean, you need to first start with a baking soda paste. The basics of the paste are baking soda and water, with a ratio of anywhere between 2:1 and 3:1. That means you’re using 2-3 parts baking soda to 1 part water.

For more details on the paste, check out this helpful cleaning guide.

After making a paste with the baking soda, gently scrub whatever area you need to clean. Move as if you’re buffing it, focusing just on the affected area. Don’t scrub too hard either: the goal is to let the grains of baking soda do the work.

How to Clean Kitchen Sink with Baking Soda and Vinegar

To add in some additional cleaning power, you can mix baking soda and vinegar. The main benefit of adding vinegar is that it’s so effective at removing any type of stain and buildup. Anything that the baking soda can’t get, will be taken up by the acidic vinegar.

In order to use vinegar, mix it together with baking soda and water, to form a loose paste. Then use it as you would a regular baking soda paste. For more tips and tricks, check out this great video:

How to Clean Kitchen Sink Stains

Removing stains on your sink effectively starts with knowing what the stain is from. If you’ve got a stain that is based heavily in oil, such as that from tomato sauce, using a grease cutting cleaner should be effective. (Remember that letting soaps sit for a moment can increase their effectiveness.)

For stains that are more pigment based, (like spices, wine, and juice) try vinegar. You can use a mix of baking soda and vinegar if you need more cleaning power.

With dark color sinks, or metal sinks, hard water stains are of particular concern. You can use a number of natural cleaners for these; however, you can also pick up hard water specific cleaners. Many of these cleaners are made to be used on a variety of surfaces. As long as you’re careful, there shouldn’t be any issues with using them on your sink.

How Often Should You Clean Your Kitchen Sink

When to clean kitchen sinks really depends on your preference and your sink’s basin. To prevent build-up odor and dirt, once a week is a good schedule for a smooth basin. If you have a hammered or textured basin, you’ll have to clean and dry it more often.

Another option is to keep a gentle cleaner on hand while washing dishes. As soon as the sink is empty, give a quick rinse with cleaner. This will ensure that you have less issues with stains from food residue.

For other issues such as stains, take care of them as they arise. You don’t want them to let them sit, because that will make them much harder to clean.

The key is moderation. You don’t need to clean your sink every day, but doing it with some level of frequency is helpful. It allows you to maintain a clean sink without any stubborn stains or build-up.

Maintaining a Clean Sink

With the right supplies and schedule, it’s easy to keep your sink clean.

The key is to make sure that you’re being kind to the sink surface. Although sinks are durable, their surfaces can be scratched and chipped easily if you’re not careful.

To that end, focus on gentle chemicals and non-abrasive scrubbing tools. These supplies will allow you to handle most issues without having to worry about damaging your sink.

Overall, it’s not hard to clean sinks, just make sure you’re taking the proper care.

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