Do It Yourself » How to Polish Stainless Steel Sinks

How to Polish Stainless Steel Sinks

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Durable, inexpensive, and easy to maintain, stainless steel is considered the most popular material for kitchen sinks. With minimal effort, you can keep your stainless steel sinks shining like the day they were installed. Dish soap and a sponge are all you need to keep your sink clean on a daily basis. Wipe dry with a dish towel to prevent spotting.

Stainless steel sinks are beautiful and virtually maintenance-free. Rinse and dry after each use. The best way to polish stainless steel is with a small amount of oil after cleaning. Apply a teaspoon of olive oil to a soft cloth and wipe with the grain to keep the sparkle and chase away water spots.

There are dozens of products available for cleaning and polishing stainless steel sinks. However, you don’t have to spend a fortune to keep them looking new. We will take a look at what is available and how effective they are, and some inexpensive alternatives. Follow these simple tips to effortlessly maintain the beauty of your stainless steel sinks and appliances.

polished stainless steel sink

How do I get my Stainless Steel Sink to Shine?

Restoring the gleam to your stainless steel sinks involves understanding what makes them lose their glow in the first place. Water spots, limescale, and food residue can build up to dull the surface finish of your kitchen sinks, but the solution is attainable with a few good habits.

Avoid letting dirty dishes sit in the sink. Remove food debris and wipe up water drops as soon as you can. Try not to allow coffee or tea to dry in the basin as these stains will be more challenging to remove.

Never leave bleach, salt, or vinegar soaking in a stainless steel sink, and be especially careful when using caustic substances such as oven cleaner or other chemicals. These products can corrode or otherwise damage the material.

dirty dishes stainless steel sink

Most manufacturers of stainless steel appliances discourage the use of steel wool or wire brushes. These can break down and leave bits of metal behind, which will rust. As a result, you may find yourself having to clean up another mess. Soap pads such as Brillo or SOS can be used on occasion but should be utilized sparingly.

Always rinse well after using any of these products to scrub your sinks. Use caution when scouring with any type of abrasive cloth, scrubber, or brush, and always go with the grain to minimize scratching.

A quick wipe down will go a long way toward keeping your sinks beautiful. Sinks are often the busiest spot in the kitchen and endure all sorts of greasy, grimy dishes and pans during a typical day.

Meal preparation, holiday baking, and everyday kitchen activities can leave your sinks looking dull and blotchy. If at all possible, take care of dirty dishes promptly. If you are lucky enough to own a dishwasher, you can keep soiled dishes out of sight until you have a full load to run. Remember to always give them a quick rinse to avoid food and drink residue from drying on.

The Best Cleaners for Stainless Steel

✔️ Weiman Stainless Steel Wipes get good reviews as a polisher, but not as a cleaner. They are easy to use, convenient, and remove fingerprints and other smudges, but are rather expensive at nearly eight dollars per 30 count package of wipes.

✔️ CLR stands for Calcium, Lime, and Rust, and this cleaner is effective for just that. CLR powers through hard water stains and any deposits that may be left on your stainless. It should be noted that it has a host of other applications, like fiberglass, chrome, and glass, as well as dishwashers and showerheads. It is reasonably priced between six and ten dollars for a 28-ounce bottle.

✔️ Natural Therapy Stainless Steel Cleaner and Polish is a plant-based cleaner made from coconut oil and lavender essential oils. It leaves a nice, fresh scent and a glittering shine and can also be used on your microwave, stove, hoods, and ranges. Available online, you can get two 16 ounce spray bottles for about twenty dollars.

✔️ Best Homemade Solution involves daily cleaning with dish soap and a sponge. About once a week, sprinkle the bottom of the basin with baking soda, covering evenly. (The sink can be wet.) Use half of a lemon to scour the bottom and sides of the sink. Rinse well.

The baking soda will not damage pipes like some cleaners can and will act to sweeten the drain. The lemon “scrubber” can then be placed in the garbage disposal to further freshen your kitchen. Always dry the sink using a towel or soft cloth afterward to prevent water spots.

How to Remove Scratches from Stainless Steel

Stainless steel sinks will inevitably acquire scratches and scuffs. For minor surface blemishes, use a paste made from baking soda and a small amount of water. Should you find yourself out of baking soda, a bit of whitening toothpaste can be used to buff out minor abrasions.

Larger, deeper gouges may require the use of a polish or rubbing compound. Any brand of liquid automotive polish will do. For polished stainless steel, choose a chrome cleaner.

For matte finishes, it is all right to use a fine grit stainless steel wool or Scotch Brite™ pad. Bear in mind that you do not want these chemicals to go down the drain. Remove all traces of residue with a soft, dry cloth before rinsing.

Using long, smooth strokes with the grain, evenly cover the entire surface of the sink. Allow to dry, then buff to a high gloss. These products are especially useful for laundry room sinks and removing coffee stains, rust rings, and grease from kitchen sinks.

Bar Keeper’s Friend™ is another popular cleanser that can minimize the appearance of scratches and scuffs on your stainless steel. It is slightly abrasive, so it is safe for all the stainless steel in your kitchen, including refrigerators and appliances.

Scratch Removal Kits are available for less than $20. Some of these involve sanding and multiple steps and may or may not solve your problems with scuffs and scratches. Read and follow the manufacturer’s recommendations to avoid wasting time or money on products that aren’t quite right for your application.

grungy stainless steel sink

Removing Hard Water Stains from Stainless Steel

It might sound funny, but it’s fairly easy to stain Stainless steel. A better name might be Stain-resistant steel, but that’s a mouthful! One of the most problematic substances is water, oddly enough.

Water spots are unsightly and detract from the beauty of your stainless steel sinks. Hard water, limescale, and even just drops of tap water can leave marks. The obvious solution is to keep sinks dry, but that is hardly feasible in busy households.

grungy stainless steel sink 2

Considering all the activities that occur in our kitchens, it’s no wonder that our sinks are the hotspot of the kitchen. The kitchen sink sees more activity than any other appliance. Keeping it clean is essential and easier than you thought.

A light layer of oil may help preserve the shine and resist water spots. Baby oil, mineral oil, and even olive oil work well to add a gleam to your clean sink. Some professionals suggest WD-40™ to keep appliances shiny. The WD stands for Water Displacement, and that’s just what it does.

Lemon furniture polish, like Pledge™, will also bring out an extra glimmer. Spray it on, and wipe it off. You can think of it as waxing your car. The water droplets bead up and don’t leave a smudge as they dry.

shiny stainless steel sink

Often Recommended Homemade Solutions

There are a multitude of home remedies for cleaning and polishing stainless steel. If you don’t have something on hand, don’t despair. Here is a practical list of substitutes.

✔️ Baking soda is one of the most popular pantry products for non-abrasive cleaning. Add some lemon juice, and you have a fresh, clean sink. To save a lemon, use a spritz of vinegar instead. The fizzy action will also help keep drains clear and sweet-smelling.

✔️ Bon Ami™ is famous for being a gentle cleanser. Ingredients include baking soda, essential oils, and citric acid. It is inexpensive at less than two dollars per canister.

✔️ Wax paper can be used to put a final glow on faucets and stainless steel sinks. Use about a 12-inch piece, folded in half, and buff the whole surface. The wax paper leaves a little waxy residue that will make your fixtures shine like the sun.

✔️  Club soda is surprisingly versatile. Use it to remove grease spots on clothing and pet stains on carpets. Club soda is great for cleaning mirrors and windshields, and of course, stainless steel. Fill a spray bottle with club soda and use as you would any cleaner. Mist on and wipe off with a paper towel or soft cloth.

✔️ Flour has been suggested for polishing your sink after cleaning. Be sure the sink is completely dry before attempting this method. Sprinkle a small amount of flour in the sink. Rub with a cloth in tiny circles until the sink is shiny.

Be careful to remove any leftover flour when you are finished. You don’t want that going down your drain!

✔️ Furniture polish, Windex™, or cleaner with bleach are all good choices. The furniture polish should be applied after a good scrubbing to help keep it shiny. Window cleaner or Clorox™Cleaner with bleach will keep your sink glowing in between cleanings.

cleaning stainless steel sink

What Not to Do

Be careful what you put in your sink; heavy pans can leave marks that are difficult to remove. With proper care, stainless steel will give you years of beautiful service. Avoid corrosive products like oven cleaner, chlorine, vinegar, and even table salt.

Try not to leave dirty dishes or other items in the sink. Never scrub against the grain and avoid abrasives. Don’t let spills or food residue dry on. Your stainless steel sink can give you well over 20 years of functional serviceability with minimal effort.

cleaning stainless steel sink 2

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See Also:

  1. How to Clean Granite Countertops Naturally
  2. How to Clean your Oven with a Dishwasher Tablet
  3. How to Clean Quartz Countertops with Homemade Cleaners
  4. How to Deep Clean a Washing Machine

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