Removing Stains From Sinks the Right Way

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When it comes to sinks, stains are a serious issue. They can cause ugly discoloration, and may even lead to the need to replace your fixtures. Luckily, removing stains from sinks doesn’t have to be difficult.

In fact, with the right knowledge and effort, you can keep even a white basin stain free for years.

The key is to understand what type of sink you have, good maintenance practices, and safe cleaning methods.

Here are some tips and advice for how to remove kitchen sink stains, and maintain a clean basin.

And for more sink care information, check out our other guides:

How to Choose a Sink

How to Clean a Sink

How to Install a Sink

Types of Sinks that Stain

In terms of staining, some sinks are more susceptible than others. It really comes down to two different factors: color and material.

When it comes time to choose a sink, keep these factors in mind.


Obviously, the lighter your color choice, the worse stains will be. In most cases, white basins will stain. Without proper care, it’s inevitable. And even with proper care, they can still happen.

As an alternative, you can go for more of a cream, or off-white tone. There are even sandy tones that could also work. These are more forgiving when it comes to stains, but they’re still very light.

Of course, you can also avoid the issue altogether by choosing a darker color. Blue, black, and grey are all good choices. And if you choose to get a metal sink, colors like gold and bronze are also possible.

These sinks will still collect stains from food, but they won’t be as visible. They’re much more forgiving than a lighter color option. The main concern with these is that hard water stains will be more visible, so keep that in mind.

Unfortunately, color is not always something that you can choose for practical reasons. Sinks are large fixtures, and therefore need to be coordinated with your overall design.

Thankfully, most sinks are hidden, with only their basins visible. This means you can get away with more color choices.

The only reason to be concerned with color choice, is if you’re buying something like a farmhouse sinks. With these options, the front is visible, so the sink becomes a part of the overall design of your kitchen.

Otherwise, it’s very easy to get a more manageable color or material, since all that will be visible is the basin.


When it comes to materials, there are a few options that are more known for staining.

Composite is perhaps, the worst offender. Composite basins are made from a mix of stones along with resin or acrylic. The benefit of these options is that they’re cheap, durable alternative to materials like porcelain.

Unfortunately, they are known for staining. Without careful maintenance, the basins can turn brown from residue and standing water.

But composite isn’t the only material that stains. Any sort of white, coated sink is susceptible. That means fireclay, porcelain, and cast iron are also at risk. These have enamel or similar coatings, that give them a smooth, colorful finish.

Typically, the coating used on these options tends to be more durable and stain resistant. However, it’s not a guarantee. You’ll still need to keep up with regular maintenance. These materials are also still susceptible to cracks and chips, which can lead to stains.

The most stain resistant material is probably metal. Metal sinks can still stain, however the stains tend to be less noticeable, and easier to remove. In the case of copper, some stains may even be preferable. They can help add to the natural patina that these sinks develop over time.

How to Prevent Stains

Prevention is the best way to deal with stains. Regular care and upkeep means that you won’t have to worry as much about how to remove sink stains.

Unfortunately, nothing can protect a basin entirely.

The fact is, depending on the type of sink you purchase, stains are probably going to occur at some point. While you can’t control that, you can control how serious they are, and how easy they are to clean.

Here are some tips on regular maintenance and cleaning that can help you keep your basin looking pristine:


One important step in preventing stains is practicing good sink maintenance. Essentially, what you want to do is maintain the integrity of the basin coating or material.

Your basin will remain spotless for much longer if you do your part to protect it. By preserving the surface of the basin, you’re helping it defend against stains.

So how do you protect the basin?

Step one is to make sure that you’re not creating any chips or scratches. Any time you mar the surface of the basin, even a little, you’re giving stains an opportunity. Even the smallest scratch can lead to a buildup of bacteria and food residue, which can cause stains.

To avoid scratches and chips, you need to be careful when washing things. Sharp objects like knives, and even forks, can cause damage if you’re not being careful. And dropping heavy items directly into the basin is a good way to cause chips.

Step two is to make sure that nothing is left in the basin for long periods of time. Yes, that includes dishes.

When you leave dishes or standing water in the basin overnight, it’s much easier for stains to develop. To maintain your basin, make sure that you’re leaving the bottom free of any water or residue at the end of each day.

If you want to make things a little easier, consider investing in a sink grid. A grid is a metal barrier that sits in the bottom of the basin. They protect the basin from anything sharp, and make it easier to wash away anything that might cause stains.


Another way to protect your sink is to practice good cleaning habits.

As previously mentioned, it’s important to keep your free clear of debris and standing water. This means that you’ll want to wipe out the basin at the end of each day, at least.

Apart from that, you also want to clean it on a regular basis.

When it comes to cleaning, make sure you’re being gentle first and foremost. Harsh chemical cleaners can compromise the surface of the basin. They can wear down whatever coatings have been applied to protect the sink.

Instead, focus on using natural cleaners, and non-abrasive scrubbers. These are a gentle option for taking care of any residue or debris.

Stick to things like microfiber towels, or non-stick safe sponges. Options like these are perfect for giving you scrubbing power, without being too abrasive.

Avoid things like copper mesh, steel wool, or even hard scrubbers. It can be tempting to use things like these since they’re great at removal, but don’t. They can lead to serious scratches on the surface of any basin material.

Stain Removal

Since stains are inevitable, it’s important to know how to clean sink stains safely.

For stains that aren’t so noticeable, gentle cleaners will be sufficient. Things like grease cutting soaps and vinegar should be able to take care of most issues.

Vinegar, in particular, is great at breaking up stains that are a result of pigments. Things like coffee, blue berries, and spices are a good example of pigment stains. The acidity of the vinegar helps to clean these up.

In most cases, as long as you catch a stain before it sets in, you’ll be fine.

For more stubborn stains, there are a few things you can do.

For starters, you can look at some more abrasive options.

Spot treat issues with baking powder paste and a toothbrush, or a melamine foam sponge. When used correctly, these can gently buff away anything that gentle cleaning won’t remove.

However, keep in mind that these are still abrasive. You don’t want to apply too much pressure or force when using these. Rather than scrubbing, think of it as gently buffing away grime on the surface.

And for a worst-case cleaning scenario, you can use bleach with some materials. Most composite sinks and enamel coatings can withstand a small amount of bleach. Just remember to dilute it very heavily.

You should also only use bleach on a white sink. Don’t use it with off-white, or other colors. And never mix bleach with anything other than water. Even mixing bleach with simple vinegar can create harmful gases.

It’s also important to remember that different sinks require different types of care. Some materials can withstand harsher cleaners, while others cannot.

If you’re not sure about what to use with your sink, start by consulting the manual or the manufacturer. Often, they will have suggestions tailored to their specific product.

And when in doubt, go as gentle as possible. Start with the simplest of cleaners first, and work your way up until you get it right.

A Stain-Free Sink

If you want a stain-free sink, the answer is regular cleaning and maintenance.

Maintenance is important if you want to protect the integrity of the basin. By protecting the surface of the basin, and cleaning it regularly, you’ll eliminate most issues.

When stains do occur, don’t jump on the harshest option available to you. Start with gentle, natural cleaners, and work your way up from there.

It’s also important to remember that different sinks can withstand different cleaners. If you need to step up to a harsher chemical, such as bleach, check the manual first. In most cases, the manufacturer will let you know if bleach is a viable option.

Overall, stains don’t have to ruin your sink. So long as you’re being careful and proactive, removing stains from sinks is an easy process.

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