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How to Clean a Stainless-Steel Sink

Stainless steel is a popular finish choice for refrigerators and dishwashers, but it’s a common pick for kitchen sinks, too. It’s durable and doesn’t stain, but some extra care is needed to keep it looking its best. Here are some tips to maintain a stainless-steel sink that’s spotless as well.

Kitchen with Stainless Steel Sink Susan Gilmore

Stainless steel has a beautiful brushed finish that looks great on Day One, but it’s susceptible to all manner of smudges, streaks, and fingerprints. The good news is that these everyday marks can be wiped away easily, even when they’ve accumulated on the surface of a frequently used sink.

Caked-on food residue and mineral deposits from “hard” water require some extra attention, but both can be removed easily and quickly with excellent results.

Quick Cleaning of Everyday Marks on Stainless Steel



Simply use tap water and a microfiber cloth to gently wipe away fingerprints and smudges, rubbing in the direction of the grain for optimal luster.

Tips and Steps for Cleaning a Stainless-Steel Sink

Do not use bleach on your stainless-steel surfaces, and always check product labels to ensure that cleaning agents are safe to use on stainless. Avoid abrasives like scouring powder and steel wool, since they can scratch and mar the finish permanently. Instead, choose cleaners specifically designed for use on stainless steel, or start with the gentlest cleansers you have, and use a bit more elbow grease to clean the surface thoroughly.



  • Dish soap
  • Microfiber or other lint-free, soft cloth


  1. Apply stainless-steel cleaner to a cloth or spray it directly onto the sink. Or use a mixture of one teaspoon dish soap in one quart of hot tap water.
  2. Use the cloth (or wipe) to gently clean the sink, going in the direction of the grain, again for maximum shine.
  3. Use warm water to rinse away residual soap. Use a clean cloth to dry the sink and edges.

How to Clean Hard Water Stains on Your Stainless-Steel Sink

Hard water stains might look like white residue or dry drops of liquid on your sink’s surface. Hard water is caused by a high mineral content in the groundwater that leaves deposits on surfaces. Minerals might build up in a white crust on your faucet screens and can even reduce the effectiveness of your soap and detergents.

If you’ve got a real mess, with significant hard water spots or stuck-on food, you can try a few extra tricks to clean your stainless-steel sink.



  1. Rinse the sink with water and allow it to remain wet. If desired, put rubber gloves on to protect your hands.
  2. Apply a coating of baking soda to the sink’s surface.
  3. Use a sponge or cloth to rub the baking soda onto the surface, working in the direction of the grain. Use a soft toothbrush to remove buildup from the tiny areas on and around the faucet.
  4. Spritz vinegar onto the baking soda and use a sponge or cloth to gently scrub in the direction of the grain once more. The mixture will create a light foam (and a fizzing sound to go with it).
  5. Rinse the sink with water and dry it with a clean cloth.

One last step for a great-looking stainless-steel sink:

Use a cloth with a few drops of mineral, olive, or baby oil to lightly buff your sink and get a final polish on it.