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The Best Way To Clean a Stainless Steel Sink? Plain Old Flour, Says Cleaning Pro

Flour combined with dish soap pulls out grime and softly buffs the surface better than a pricey cleaner

We love how clean and polished our stainless steel sink looks in the kitchen. Of course, after years of use, keeping the surface looking so bright, sparkly and scratch-free can be easier said than done after it’s been inundated with food gunk, grease and sharp cutlery. So we asked cleaning pros to share their best tips for how to clean a stainless steel sink. Read on for the surprising solution, plus how to clean a sink made of any type of material.

The best way to clean a stainless steel sink

While cleaners made for stainless steel can be effective, they can also be super pricey. “The way I have found to get a stainless steel sink gleaming again? Flour!” shares Steve Rehak, star cleaner for BetterCleans. That’s because flour helps pull out grime from the stainless steel plus acts like fine-grain sandpaper to buff the surface . 

“The flour method can be a cost-effective and eco-friendly way to clean your stainless steel sink. It’s gentle enough not to scratch the surface, yet effective at removing stains and restoring shine.”

All you need is a bit of flour, some dish soap and a few rags. To get started, clean your sink as you normally would using dish soap and water. Next, dry the sink with a clean rag (don’t forget the sides and the drain, too). This step is important, because if you try to pour flour into a wet sink, you’ll find yourself with sticky goop and an even bigger mess than before.

Pour 1/4 cup flour into the sink and buff using a clean rag or paper towel, like you’re polishing a car. Be sure to get the top of the sink, the handles, the drain, and any nooks and crannies where dirt can hide. For tighter, harder to reach spots, use a clean, dry toothbrush to help rub the flour in. It’s gentle enough to help get the tricky spots without causing damage,.

Wipe out the flour with your rag — don’t rinse it down the drain, as this may clog your pipes — and then stand back and enjoy your handiwork.

See how to clean a stainless steel sink using flour in the video below:

Another effective way to clean your stainless steel sink: Bar Keeper’s Friend. “It’s fantastic at removing stains and requires minimal effort that to its oxalic acid,” says Alejandra Lucero, cleaner with Emily’s Maids. it gently dissolves rust, water deposites and food particles. (Click here for more uses for more brilliant uses for Bar Keepers Friend.)

“Apply a small amount to a damp sponge or cloth, then gently scrub the surface to remove stains, grime and stubborn residues,” she says. Since the cleaner is non abrasive it won’t damage the steel surface, but will still break down stains so your sink become shiny with ease.

Don’t have time to scrub? According to Steve Evans, owner of Memphis Maids, the cleaner does such a good job on its own, all you need to do it let it sit for 10 – 15 minutes and then rub softly to remove.

What *not* to do when cleaning a stainless steel sink

Rehak cautions to refrain from using abrasive tools like steel wool, steel brushes or other scrubbing pads and sponges. These can cause scratches or leave behind metal particles that are prone to rust.

How to clean a porcelain sink

A clean porcelain sink

This type of sink is one of the most common to find in a kitchen, especially in older homes. One thing to keep in mind when cleaning it: “Just like when cleaning a stainless steel sink, avoid using abrasives items like steel wool, scouring pads or harsh brushes,” says Rehak.

Rehak’s simple DIY solution: Add 1 cup of lemon juice and 1 tsp. of dish soap to a spray bottle. Sprinkle 2 Tbs. of baking soda on the surface (or more if needed), then spritz with the mix. Let sit for 5 minutes before scrubbing with a sponge. The slightly abrasive baking soda and lemon’s citric acid will cut through grease and grime, plus gently bleach the surface to leave it sparkling like new. This works for porcelain bathroom sinks too.

Have black scratches/scuff marks in your porcelain sink? After cleaning, sprinkle some Bar Keeper’s Friend over the wet sink adding more powder over the scuff spots. Scrub with the soft side of a sponge in a circular motion, spending more time on the marks; rinse with running water. 

Besides avoiding strong abrasives to protect your sink, you’ll also want to be mindful of what you set in or on the surface. “Avoid placing extremely hot items directly in the sink, as it can cause thermal shock,” adds Rehak. “You can also use sink mats or liners to protect the surface from scratches and dings.”

How to clean a concrete sink

concrete wink with a bowl of green apples next to it

More common in modern homes, a concrete sink is sturdy and doesn’t need to shine, but it does require cleaning at least once a week to help maintain its industrial-appearance.

First, you’ll want to rinse it with warm water to eliminate any easy-to-remove residue. Then mix mild dish soap with warm water and use a cloth or sponge to wipe down the sink.
“For stains, make a paste using baking soda and water, apply, let it sit, and then scrub gently,” shares Rehak. “Rinse the sink thoroughly to remove any soap residue, and dry it with a clean cloth to prevent water spots.”

Vinegar on a soft cloth can help remove hard water stains, but Rehak advises avoiding any harsh chemical cleaners. 

How to clean an acrylic sink

Acrylic kitchen sink

The good news? “When it comes to cleaning products, acrylic sinks are less sensitive and can tolerate a wider range of cleaners,” says Rehak. But still, abrasive or acidic cleaners should still be avoided to prevent surface damage.” Simply follow the steps for a concrete sink as listed above.

How to clean a copper sink

A sparkling copper sink

Copper sinks can certainly add a pop of color to a kitchen or bathroom! Thankfully, keeping them clean and tarnish-free is easy with a simple dish soap and water method.

To boost shine and remove water stains, Rehak recommends cutting a lemon in half and wiping down the sink’s surface. The citric acid in lemon lifts tarnish and cuts through grime to reveal a clean surface.

“Over time, copper sinks develop a unique patina, which adds character,” shares Rehak. “If you prefer the patina, you can simply maintain it with regular cleaning without aiming to achieve a high shine.”

The simple way to disinfect your sink

Once you’ve removed the grime and scrubbed away any stains from your sink, you’ll want to ensure it stays truly clean.

“As a final touch, spray some antibacterial spray after you’ve done with your cleaning,” says Lucero. “You can also use a 1:1 rubbing alcohol and water mix. This will further prevent more bacteria from growing in your sink.” (Note: Avoid using on copper sinks so as not to discolor the surface).

Important to know for how to clean a stainless steel sink and other sinks too

Regardless of what the sink you have, there are some simple things to keep in mind to ensure it stays in pristine condition.

Regular cleaning is important, but you’ll want to avoid using too much water to do so. “It makes it harder to dry the sink properly and leaving the sink wet can lead to water spots and mineral deposits,” says Rehak. “Always dry the sink with a clean cloth to maintain its shine.” 

You’ll also want to make sure you wipe down the drain stopper regularly and clean the drain itself on a regular basis. A clean drain will help a sink stay clean and odor-free. (Click through for tips on how to deodorize a drain).

Another area to focus on while cleaning: The faucet aerator (which can get a build up of mineral deposits and affect water flow), so you’ll want to remove it and wipe it down on occasion.

For more helpful cleaning advice:

How to Clean a Mirror Without Windex And Why It’s A Good Idea

Move Over, Magic Eraser: Cleaning Pros Reveal 11 Ways a Pumice Stone Works Better

Experts Caution Against Using Baking Soda and Bleach for Mold

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