Stainless Steel Kitchen Sink Care and Maintenance Guide

One of the top reasons homeowners choose stainless steel kitchen sinks is because they are so easy to clean and care for. This is makes stainless steel the top choice in commercial kitchens too. This cleaning and care guide provides tips, dos and don’ts for maintaining the good looks of your stainless steel kitchen sink.

kitchen sink maintanence

Daily Cleaning Tips for Stainless Steel Sinks

Most manufacturers recommend the use of mild dish detergent for general cleaning of stainless steel. If food dries on the sink surface, wet a piece of paper towel, and cover the food like a poultice. In 10-30 minutes, the food will be softened, and you can wipe or rinse it away. This approach reduces scratches to the stainless steel.

A non-abrasive cloth or sponge should be used for standard cleaning.

Cleaning Tough Dirt on Stainless Steel

Try wetting paper towel and covering the dirt for 15-30 minutes. If it still won’t clean off easily, make a paste out of mild powder cleaner and water or baking soda and water. Gently scour the dirt using a cloth or sponge. Rub with the grain of the steel back and forth rather than in a circular motion. Rinse away the cleaning paste.

Dry your Stainless Steel Sink

This sounds like going overboard to some, but if you want that brand-new look for longer, this will work.

Most water contains trace amounts of minerals such as calcium. The harder your water is, the more minerals it contains. Softened water usually contains softener salts.

When hard or soft water dries on the stainless steel surface, it leaves the mineral deposits there. In time, these will cloud the stainless steel. To avoid deposits, wipe out your sink after using it with a dry towel. It’s the so-called ounce of prevention to avoid needing the pound of cure (outlined next).

How to Remove Mineral Deposits from Stainless Steel Sinks

This is a safe, effective and ecofriendly way to get rid of ugly deposits.

  • Wet the entire sink surface, and while it’s damp, sprinkle it with baking soda. The baking soda is ideal for scouring away deposits and grease, but isn’t hard enough to scratch the stainless steel. Cleaning powder will work for this purpose too, though not all products are as environmentally safe as baking soda.
  • Use a damp sponge or cloth to scour the sink.
  • While the paste is still on the surface, spray white vinegar over the entire surface. Expect the combination of vinegar and baking soda to fizz.
  • Wait five minutes, and then go over the surface one more time with a damp cloth or sponge before rinsing away all of the paste and vinegar.
  • The same technique can be used for strainers and other stainless steel accessories.

For heavy deposits, often found around the faucet, soak a cloth in white vinegar, press it down onto the area covered with deposits, and saturate the cloth again with vinegar. After one hour, use a soft cloth or worn dish scrubber (a new, hard one might scratch the steel), scrub away the deposits. Areas most heavily affected might require a second application of the vinegar and rag poultice.

Minor Scratches on Stainless Steel

Over time, utensils, pots and pans will scratch the sink. If your skin has a polished/mirrored finish, these will be more noticeable, and you might want to take extra care. For brushed or satin stainless steel finishes, the scratches will blend. If you want to reduce their haphazard appearance, make a paste from baking soda or powder cleaner and water. Use a dish scrubber with the paste, and gently scrub the sink surface back and forth with the metal grain. This will quicken the blending of the scratches.

To avoid more scratches, place a sink grid in the bottom of the sink. One with rubber feet is best. If the feet are steel, they will likely scratch the surface too.

Suggested Cleaning Products for Stainless Steel

We looked at a couple of manufacturer sites to find cleaners approved for stainless steel.

  • Elkay / Revere suggests: Comet, Mr. Clean, Flitz, Soft Scrub, Bar Keepers Friend and Zud.
  • Kohler suggests: Fantastik Antibacterial Heavy Duty, Formula 409 Antibacterial All Purpose, Windex Original, Bar Keeper’s Friend and stainless steel cleaner and polish.
  • Blanco suggests: Gordon’s Miracle Shine, Flitz, Soft Scrub with Bleach, Zud, Comet and Bar Keeper’s Friend.

Stainless Steel Sink Care and Maintenance FAQ

This Q&A covers additional topics you might find helpful.

There are rust spots in my stainless steel sink. I thought stainless steel didn’t rust?

The rust is likely from steel wood scouring pads, tin cans, cheap metal utensils and other metal products that rusted in the sink. The rust can be removed with baking soda and water or powder cleaner and water paste. Use a soft sponge to scrub away the rust deposits, scrubbing with the natural grain of the metal.

Some recommend bleach products on stainless steel and some don’t. Bleach, yes or no?

Most say no, so we recommend avoiding bleach. However, the chloride in bleach products like Soft Scrub with bleach won’t hurt stainless steel if it is rinsed away when the cleaning is complete. When it is left on the stainless steel, corrosion can occur. If you use products containing bleach, use them sparingly, and rinse them thoroughly.

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