Is your stainless steel looking more stained and less shiny than before? If you’re wondering how to clean a stainless steel sink, or any other stainless steel appliance, you’ve come to the right place. As you might have found already, this can be a tricky job. Get it wrong and you risk damaging the material or being left with smeary marks. That’s the last thing that you want.
Don't worry! We're here to help you achieve spotless, sparkling stainless steel - even after the build-up from a week's worth of cooking. Once you've got the knack of this essential chore, keeping your kitchen looking clean will never be a challenge again. Grab your sponge and get to work pronto. Within this short and sweet guide, we look at the best way to clean a stainless steel sink. Here’s everything that you need to know...
Editor's Note: This post was originally posted in May 2017 and has been completely revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness in June 2022.
What you will need:
Before you get started and clean the stainless steel sink, you’re going to need to gather some supplies. Don’t panic. Chances are you already have everything you need in your kitchen cupboard. Here’s what you will need to get the job done.
- Baking soda
- Two cloth
- Soft sponge
- Olive oil
- Apple cider vinegar
Step 1: Get rid of any food or mess
First things first, you need to get rid of any mess in your sink. We’re talking bits of food, grime, and crumbs. If you haven’t cleaned your stainless steel sink in quite some time, you might find that there’s a bit of a build-up.
Take the time to remove any of the debris that is already there. If you don’t get this job done before you start cleaning, you will end up with a real problem. Failing to remove pieces of food means that it will be harder to clean the sink.
Step 2: Rinse the sink completely
Next up, it’s time to rinse. You can use warm, soapy water to get this part of the task over and done with. You might want to fill up a small bowl of water and use it to rinse the area.
Failing that, you can also just run the tap. Doing so means that you get rid of the nasty grime. You should wash all of the above down the drain. When you take these two steps to get started, you will find that you have a clean sink environment to get things moving.
Got a blockage? Find out how to get hair out of a drain in our easy guide.
Step 3: Use some baking soda
Once you have got rid of all the leftovers from the sink, the next step is to grab some baking soda. Sprinkle the stuff all over your stainless steel sink.
Don’t be stingy when you’re doing this part of the cleaning process. The more baking soda you use, the easier it will be to clean your sink. It will help you get rid of water stains and any other marks.
Don’t make the mistake of just covering the bottom of the stainless steel sink. One of the best cleaning tips you will get is to cover the sides of the sink in baking soda too.
Step 4: Use a soft sponge to clean it
Grab a soft sponge and dip it in some lukewarm water. When you’ve done that, the next step is to wipe the baking soda off the stainless steel. Make sure that you are not using a scouring pad or a rough edge when you take this step. Doing so could mean that you damage the stainless steel without realising it. That is the last thing you want.
Instead, we suggest that you try using a soft sponge or even a cloth to get the baking soda off the metal. As it combines with the water, it will start to form a thick paste. Work with it and gently scrub the whole sink area. Be firm but don’t use too much force here.
Step 5: Rinse the sink again
When you have done all of the above, it’s time for a quick rinse. Once again, you can either grab a bowl of water or use the tap to rinse the area.
Be sure to get to the sides of the sink. While these may be difficult to reach, you need to make sure that you get all of the baking soda from the area. You can run water down the sides of the sink, for example, to make sure that the paste has completely disappeared.
Step 6: Grab your lemon and get cleaning
Lemon juice — or citric acid — can be used in domestic settings as a handy cleaner. When you have rinsed the area, you should grab the nearest lemon and get to work. Cut the fruit in half to get started. You don’t need any other tools for this part of the job.
Use half of a lemon to clean your sink area. You can do this by rubbing the fruit directly onto the stainless steel. As you work, you will find that the juice starts to come out of the lemon. As we have already mentioned, this contains citric acid, which may help to clean the metal. As if that weren’t enough, the fruit gives the sink a fresh, citrusy scent too.
Step 7: Rinse again!
You guessed it — before you can move on to the next step, you’re going to need to rinse the sink again. You can use warm water to give the area a quick blast before moving on.
Step 8: Use vinegar and water
Are you having trouble getting water stains out of the sink? Don’t panic. While the baking soda solution may have worked some of its magic, you’ve got another trick up your sleeve. Add a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar to warm water. Mix well before you get started.
Next, grab a clean cloth and dip it in the solution. You can use the cloth to directly clean any stains off the stainless steel. You might have to use a little elbow grease to get it right. When you have completed this step, you should rinse the sink once more.
Step 9: Use olive oil to make it shine
Finally, you may be wondering how to make stainless steel shine. Here’s a simple cleaning tip that you may not know about. Grab yourself a clean, dry cloth. You might want to use a microfibre cloth to get this part of the cleaning job done well. Put a little olive oil onto the cloth and then start polishing the metal sink. You should find that it starts to sparkle!
There’s no need to shy away from cleaning your stainless steel sink. In this guide, we’ve covered the basic things you need to know to get this job done well. Now that you’ve got the inside scoop, what are you waiting for? Grab your sponge and get to work right away.
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The copper-tinged, spaghetti-stained and hard-watermarked appliances are a far cry from the sleek stainless steel kitchen you dreamed of owning. From breakfast through to dinner, your sink gets less and less distinguishable from your matt, grey worktops. Leave it long enough, and you might completely forget what it's actually meant to look like.
One day, though - perhaps a visit from your extremely finicky Mother looming - you will reach the breaking point. You'll glance down at that once clean surface, and wonder what on earth happened.
Before you panic grab for the scourer and start sloshing on the first cleaning product you can find, take a minute to consider the following. Fail to do so, and you could be scrubbing for hours.
The key to getting stainless steel surfaces looking great again is not hours of gruelling cleaning, nor expensive products. In fact, it's really very simple - go au naturel.
Going for a natural cleaning solution is a great idea for three reasons:
- Natural, home cleaning products are often much, much cheaper than the store-bought equivalent. These products are relatively cheap to manufacture, but their expensive packaging, reputable branding and required profit margins mean the price is hiked up.
- Some of the chemicals in toxic, store-bought products cannot be broken down at treatment plants before being released into waterways. This means they end up in streams, rivers, and the sea. The consequential effects on sea life are devastating, often resulting in the death of many creatures and their habitats.
- Simply put, natural products are much safer than those found on supermarket shelves. Not only do these harsh chemicals irritate skin, but the fumes can cause respiratory problems too. Additionally, if inquisitive little ones are around, digested cleaning products can prove deadly.
Perhaps you've never tried natural products before, and don't know where to start. Well, I have some good news - far from being complicated, natural cleaning products are actually extremely easy to make and use. The suggested method for cleaning stainless steel involves just two ingredients - I'll put money on the fact you have both of which in your cupboard right now!
So put down your toxic cleaning supplies, take a deep breath, and get ready to transform your stainless steel sink to its former glory. It will be so blindingly bright, you'll be able to see your satisfied face reflected back at you!
The two, natural secret ingredients to shine stainless steel are...
Our old favourite, baking soda, and table salt - that really is it!
The baking soda will work it's usual magic, breaking down grime, dirt and stains. It's the addition of salt, however, that make this combination really special.
Have you ever used an exfoliator? If you have, you'll know how the small particles gently remove impurities and dry skin from your face, leaving you with a flawless complexion. Well, salt serves the same purpose in your natural stainless steel cleaner. The bicarb acts as the base, reacting with dirt to remove it, and the salt provides friction and scrubbing power.
It's the combination of the two elements that will get your stainless steel shining brightly.
For an extremely easy application, I'd recommend popping the solution into an old salt or sugar shaker. That way you can easily sprinkle it on your stainless steel surfaces, in whatever form they may be.
How to make your all-natural, stainless steel shining solution
- 340g baking soda
- 170g salt
- salt or sugar dispenser
1.Add baking soda & salt to a jug or bowl & mix with a spoon to combine.
2. Empty contents into your shaker, ensure lid is on & tightly fastened.
3. Wipe stainless steel surface using a wet cloth.
4. Sprinkle powder onto surface, wait for half a minute, then begin to scrub using a firm brush, or soft scourer.
5. Watch in awe as your stainless steel begins to shine once more!
It really is as simple as that. No need for endless scrubbing, sore hands and disappointing results. Just two, all natural, non-toxic ingredients to get your stainless steel shining.
Do you have a burning question that we haven’t covered? Don’t worry. We’ve got your back. Here are some of the frequently asked questions you need answering:
Will vinegar ruin stainless steel sinks?
The short answer is that it depends how you use it. Using a small amount of vinegar to clean a sink should not be a problem — especially if you rinse well afterwards. However, you should not leave large amounts of vinegar on stainless steel. Over time, this substance may start to corrode the metal. Avoid this mistake at all costs.
How can I make stainless steel look new again?
Our simple cleaning guide will help you make your stainless steel sink sparkle. When you want to make the metal shine, one of the best cleaning tips is to use some olive oil. Doing so will help the metal to look as good as new once more. Give it a go!
How do you shine a dull stainless steel sink?
As we have covered, you can use some olive oil to make the stainless steel sink shine again. However, you may also find that the baking soda plays a role here. By using a baking soda paste to get started, you should find that it is simple to clean the sink area.
What will damage stainless steel sinks?
You may already know that stainless steel can be delicate. If you use the wrong cleaning products, you could damage the surface of the metal. You want to avoid harsh material — such as scouring pads. In addition, you should steer clear of harsh cleaning products. If you are using a commercial cleaner, check that it is suitable for stainless steel first.
Stainless steel looks so much better when it's sparkling! Will you be trying our tips? Leave a comment below.
340 grams of bicarb? Really? That's nearly two pot fulls of the stuff.
Hi Julie. This is to make a solution that will last for a long time, over several months. The quantities, can, of course be halved to suit your needs. Thanks :)
Hi, do you have a tip on how to keep a cream one of those plastic type Sink clean, it was lovely when new! But I only have to empty the teapot and I swill the sink straight away and it's stained again and only bleach will remove it, I have tried filling it with biological washing powder, soda crystals, scouring it with cif, and in one Afternoon it back looking like its never been cleaned for a month, PLEASE HELP
Hi Anne. Have you tried bicarb? Salt may scratch the plastic so I wouldn't recommend that, but bicarbonate of soda is a very powerful cleaner that may just do the trick!
fantastic love these natural cleaning solutions there great and this on really works wow my sinks are ace thank you so so much x
Hi Lynette. I was SO impressed with the results too - glad you liked it! :)
I will most certainly be trying this today ! Thanks for the tip.
Hi Karen. Let me know how you get on!
Put a scoop of stain remover, any brand . Fill with boiling water and leave . The oxygen in the stain remover lifts all stains and grease out and after halfhr. Drain and rinse sink without any rubbing. Your sink will look brand new.
Hi Roger, Thanks for sharing this unique tip with us. We've not tried it before, but it sounds extremely simple and easy to do - we'll definitely be giving it a go! Thanks :)
But is stain remover as ocean friendly I wonder?
Does this tough duo also work on cleaning stubborn dirty baths and sinks (not stainless steel!)? Or is there another `natural`alternative? Look forward to your great advice!
Hi Evelyn. This would certainly work on a ceramic bath sink, however it can be quite abrasive, so if you're using it on your bath, I'd recommend scrubbing with the green side of a worn sponge. I hope this helps, and do let us know how you get on!
Thank you never done this and its cleaning day so giving it a go xx
Happy cleaning, Alison!
Hi, I use your tip for the stainless Steel sinks. Because of the large quantities I use 2 teaspoon baking soda to 1 teaspoon salt in my small sink in the caravan. Works a treat.
Great idea, Ruth! This recipe does make quite a large batch for frequent use.
A simpler effective and cheaper way is rubbing half a fresh lemon all around your stainless steel sink, leave 5-10 minutes if you wish, then rinse with boiling water. Buff if wish with dry microfiber cloth. Not only will it look clean and shiny, it will smell great too. Eau natural cost between 12-16p.
How can I get my bathroom tiles back to shiny? I live in a very hard water area and limescale is everywhere. I'm sure the baking soda and salt would work but the tiles are on the wall so I'm a bit stumped.
Hi Sharon! Have you heard of dish mates? They're sponges that hold cleaning products in the handles. Normally you fill it with washing up liquid and use to wash dishes, but they're also really good for cleaning tiles. You could fill with any cleaning solution, but I find that flash works the best. Once cleaned, go over with a squeegee and/or a buffing cloth.
Hi I have a black sink in colour and despite trying every product on the market it always looks grey. Any suggestions please
Hi Jennie! Try using a mixture of equal parts white vinegar and warm water to clean the sink or a specialized sink cleaner. Avoid using abrasive cleaning materials such as steel wool or scouring pads. If none of the above works, you can use a polishing compound specifically for black sinks to restore shine.
Would this method work with a stone sink?
We recommend using a mild, PH-neutral cleaner for stone sinks. You could try washing up liquid or castile soap with a sponge. You can also make a paste with baking soda and water for tougher stains. With either of these methods, be sure to rinse well after cleaning.
We're replacing our kitchen faucet and so there was a lot of lime build up around where the old faucet had been. Since I didn't want to make such a huge batch in case it didn't work, I halved the recipe using grams to Tablespoons, and then Tablespoons to cups converters and ended up with 1-1/8 C baking soda to 1/4 + 1/8 C salt. It maybe took away only ~2% of the lime deposits, so we still had a lot left. Maybe converting and halving the recipe was my problem - ? Regardless, the thing that finally worked for us was to sandpaper the stainless steel (it has no finish or coating, so it didn't damage anything) and then go over it with a metal polish. But even without the polish, the sandpaper did pretty well at eliminating the lime deposits. So I love the baking soda / salt idea, but either our lime stains were no match for it OR my mixture was off. :(
If you had to use sandpaper, it sounds like you had some pretty heavy limescale deposits! We're glad you found a solution.
any oil will shine up stainless steel - it doesn't have to be olive oil. Any cooking oil, baby oil or mineral oil will do the same job. apply a few drops with a cloth or sponge then polish off.
That's true, though some may be more effective than others. It's essential to remember that using oils containing acidic or abrasive components may damage the steel and its finish.
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