It might surprise you to know your kitchen sink is the second germiest place in your kitchen. The germiest place is very close by—your kitchen sponge! Regular cleaning of your sink and its related parts (such as the faucet, drain, and garbage disposal) is an essential part of a clean and sanitary kitchen.
We’ll take a look at daily and weekly cleaning needs for different types of sink materials and share methods for keeping your faucet, drain, disposal, and kitchen sponge clean and smelling fresh.
How to Clean a Kitchen Sink – Expert Tips
1. Stainless Steel Sinks
Almost 70% of kitchen sinks are made from stainless steel because they are lightweight, durable, and easy to clean. Although they tend to scratch, the scratches will merge into the pattern of the sink over time and won’t be noticeable.
Daily Cleaning: Rinse with warm water and mild dish detergent after cleaning the final dishes of the day. Make sure to rinse away any food particles.
Weekly Cleaning: Sprinkle baking soda throughout the sink and add water until it forms a paste. Using a clean sponge or cloth, thoroughly wipe every surface of the sink with the baking soda paste.
Let sit for five minutes and then rinse with warm water and dry the sink with a clean cloth. Now fill a bowl with white vinegar and dip 5 to 10 paper towels into the vinegar.
Drape the vinegar-soaked paper towels over the sink until all areas are covered. Let stand for 20 minutes. Remove the towels and rinse thoroughly with warm water.
To more thoroughly disinfect your sink, use a 50/50 mixture of water and 3% hydrogen peroxide instead of vinegar.
2. Porcelain Sinks
Porcelain sinks are made of lightweight steel coated in porcelain enamel. Although the surface is designed to resist stains and scratches, sometimes pots and pans leave black or gray stains.
For Daily Cleaning: Rinse with warm water and mild dish detergent after cleaning the final dishes of the day. Make sure to rinse away any food particles.
For Weekly Cleaning: Sprinkle baking soda throughout the sink and add water until it forms a paste. Using a clean sponge or cloth, thoroughly wipe every surface of the sink with the baking soda paste. Let sit for five minutes and then rinse with warm water and dry the sink with a clean cloth.
Now fill a bowl with white vinegar and dip 5 to 10 paper towels into the vinegar. Drape the vinegar-soaked paper towels over the sink until all areas are covered. Let stand for 20 minutes. Remove the towels and rinse thoroughly with warm water.
To Remove Black/Gray Stains: Clean with Soft Scrub Gel or a mixture of borax and lemon juice.
To Shine A White Porcelain Sink: Dip paper towels in diluted bleach and cover all sink surfaces. After 30 minutes, remove the towels and rinse the sink thoroughly with warm water.
ONLY use bleach on white porcelain sinks. If you use it on colored porcelain, the color may begin to fade.
3. Composite Sinks
Composite sinks are made from a mix of fine granite or quartz and a resin bonding agent. Most kitchen sinks are granite composites, which have all of the benefits of granite but cost less, are more durable, and are easier to maintain. Composite sinks are tough and resist scratches and scuff marks.
However, they require more maintenance than other types of sinks to avoid staining and fading. Before using any cleaner on your composite sink, check with the manufacturer for their recommendations.
Daily Cleaning: Dry your composite sink thoroughly after each use to avoid haze and film caused by mineral deposits from water. When you’re done with dishes for the day, spray your sink with a pH neutral cleaner made for granite.
To Prevent Staining: Apply a sealer made for your sink annually. Supreme Surface Cleaners makes many products formulated specifically for composite sinks, including a Composite Granite Sink Cleaner and Restoration Kit.
4. Cast Iron Sinks with Enamel
Cast iron sinks are very durable because they have a base layer of iron alloy protected by a thick outer layer of porcelain enamel.
Daily Cleaning: After each use, rinse the sink thoroughly (making sure to remove all food particles). Then use a soft cloth to dry the sink.
For Deep Cleaning Or To Remove Stains: Use a specially formulated cleaner (such as Kohler’s Cast Iron Cleaner). These cleaners will safely remove pot marks, rust, and other stains while restoring the sink’s original shine.
5. Fireclay Sinks
Fireclay sinks are made from ceramic clay that is dried at a high temperature for about two days. Once dry, porcelain enamel is applied to the clay.
The sink is then put into a kiln and fired at 2000 °F for about a day. This process fuses the enamel and the ceramic—making both of them stronger. Fireclay sinks resist most scratches and stains, making them easy to clean.
Daily Cleaning: Rinse away any food particles and wipe down the sink with a soft cloth.
Deep Cleaning: Most manufacturers recommend a non-abrasive cleaning product like Barkeeper’s Friend.
6. Copper Sinks
Copper sinks are made from antimicrobial copper, which kills 99.9% of bacteria. This means copper sinks are naturally cleaner than other types of sinks.
However, avoid using abrasive chemicals (including bleach) that can affect the finish. Copper also reacts with acids, so don’t let acidic fruits (e.g., lemon, limes, tomatoes, pineapples) or foods (e.g., ketchup, mustard, vinegar) sit in your copper sink.
If they are in the sink, leave the water running and wipe away all traces as quickly as possible or the copper patina will be stripped away.
Daily Cleaning: Rinse with warm water and a mild dish detergent. Rinse thoroughly and wipe dry with a clean cloth. Avoid letting dishes sit in the sink for long periods of time. Otherwise, that’s all the cleaning copper sinks need.
Protecting Copper Patina: Every month, apply a coating to prevent water spots (especially if you’re in an area with hard water). You can use a high-grade plumbing wax or Copper Armor.
7. Cleaning Faucets
Most faucets are made of chrome, and the instructions below apply to chrome. If your faucet is made of another material, refer to the manufacturer for care instructions.
Daily Cleaning: Rinse with warm water and a mild dish detergent. Dry with a soft cloth.
Deep Cleaning: Clean the faucet using a mixture of half vinegar and half water and a clean soft cloth. This should remove any water spots or fingerprints.
To Remove Mineral Build-Up Around Edges: Use an old toothbrush and apply a mix of baking soda and vinegar around the edges of the faucet. Rinse and wipe dry with a soft cloth.
Cleaning the Drain
To clean your kitchen drain, pour a pot or kettle of boiling water down the drain every week. The hot water will dissolve and remove any fat, oil, and grease, which are the most common causes of clogged kitchen drains.
Cleaning The Garbage Disposal
If you have a garbage disposal in your sink, clean it every two weeks to avoid nasty odors and slimy build-up.
To Clean the Blades: Pour two cups of ice down the disposal followed by coarse kosher salt. Run cold water and turn on the disposal. The ice and salt will loosen grime and debris and keep the blades in good shape.
To Remove Smells: Pour ½ cup of baking soda followed by 1 cup of white vinegar into the disposal and let sit for 15 minutes. While the baking soda and vinegar fizz, clean the rubber splash guard at the top of the drain as gunk can build up on the flaps.
If you can’t remove the splash guard to wash it by hand, add some vinegar to baking soda until it forms a paste and use an old toothbrush to clean the rubber flaps. When done, rinse thoroughly with hot or boiling water.
Now plug your drain and fill your sink three-quarters of the way. Add a squirt of dish soap. Now open the drain and run the disposal while the sink drains.
Cleaning Kitchen Sponges
As mentioned at the start of the article, your kitchen sponge is the germiest place in your kitchen. You can disinfect your sponge using either of the methods below, but you should replace your sponge every two weeks regardless of how often you clean it.
- Microwave your wet sponge on high for 1 minute. Wait before removing it as it will be hot! (Don’t use this method for sponges that contain plastic scouring pads.)
- Put your sponge in the dishwasher and wash it on your longest and hottest setting. If you have a dry cycle, use that as well.
By regularly cleaning your kitchen sink and sponge, you’ll tackle the two germiest places in your kitchen in one fell swoop. The key is to keep up with daily cleaning and follow good practices such as never letting dishes sit in your sink.
By using the right cleaners for your type of sink, you’ll extend the life of your sink and have a clean and fresh-smelling kitchen.