How to clean a kitchen sink the right way

How to clean a kitchen sink the right way

Light cleaning daily (and heavier cleaning weekly) will keep your sink fresh

Key tips to remember

  • Get in the habit of cleaning your sink daily with every use as you go
  • A deeper, more-involved weekly cleaning will help keep your sink fresh
  • A 50/50 vinegar and water solution is a fantastic all-purpose cleaner
  • Baking soda, vinegar, water and mild dish soap can do the heavy lifting
  • Don’t forget to clean the drain and the disposal, if you have one

Are you an active, dedicated and detail-oriented kitchen sink cleaner? Are your daily sink-cleaning habits up to par? You may think your kitchen sink is clean. Think again. Looks can be deceiving. With all the soap and hot water that runs through it, you’d be tempted to think that your dirty sink is one of the cleanest spots in your home. You’d be wrong. The truth is pretty much the opposite, and you might be surprised at how nasty things get in there. Good thing you don’t have a microscope! Fear not, dear reader. Before you begin searching online for “how to clean sink,” or “cleaning sink with baking soda and vinegar” — good idea, though; you’re on the right track there — you’ve arrived in the perfect place for the lowdown on all the sink-cleaning techniques and sink drain-cleaning approaches you’ll need. For your handy guide to all you need to know about how to clean a kitchen sink, read on.

What to use (and how often)

It’s easy to get a clean sink with baking soda and vinegar, a dynamic duo that could be all the sink cleaner you’ll ever need, especially if you want to keep things simple, nontoxic and inexpensive. Vinegar’s naturally occurring acetic acid kills germs and disinfects, and if you’re worried about a surface that isn’t safe for vinegar, try hot water and antibacterial soap instead. Still, you might also want to add a few things to your supply list, like a scrub brush, some dish soap, hydrogen peroxide, and a lemon or two. It’s best to clean your kitchen sink daily, with a more thorough scrubbing weekly for optimal germ-killing freshness.

Remove and rinse

Step one is to clear out the sink. Remove the dish rack and any dishes so there’s nothing to get in the way of your determination to clean your sink. Once you’ve removed all the dishes from in and around your sink, go ahead and remove any remnants that linger, including crumbs, food pieces, or any other junk that can be mopped up and removed by hand. Be sure to also remove any standing water that could have been left behind. Now you’re ready for that rinse, which should help loosen and remove anything you missed. Rinsing should be a part of your pre-cleaning routine every day. Better yet, rinsing pots, pans and utensils while you’re cooking is a great habit to get into because it cuts down on your dishwashing later, with fewer stuck-on ingredients to scrub laboriously after enjoying a hearty meal.

Soak, sanitize and sprinkle

When it comes to cheap, eco-friendly household cleaning, and as we’ve mentioned in other posts, a spray bottle with your own 50/50 mix of vinegar and water might just be your best friend. If you want to add a few drops of lemon or your favorite essential oils into your spray bottle, it will add a nice scent. Your sink is the perfect place to use this ideal cleaning solution. Once you’ve finished removing and rinsing everything, you’re ready for a sanitizing soak. Use your spray bottle to mist the whole sink and surrounding areas, making sure to get into all the tough-to-reach spots, including all nozzles, strainers, faucets, nooks and crannies. Take a five-minute break, and when you return, do another rinse before starting phase two of your sanitization routine. Sprinkle a fine coating of baking soda all over the sink. Don’t go crazy with it, but make sure everything is covered lightly before moving along.

Scrub and scour

Now that you’ve removed, rinsed, soaked, sanitized and sprinkled, it’s time to scrub and scour. If you want to protect your hands, don some dish gloves and grab your sponge or your cleaning cloth. Dab on a little dish soap, and you’re off to the races. Don’t worry about that baking soda damaging anything. It’s just abrasive enough to help make your scrubbing and scouring more effective. Using a wide, circular motion, scrub and scour from the outside in, beginning at the farthest reaches of your sink and finishing at the drain. Try a toothbrush for the difficult-to-reach areas, and don’t forget the faucet and handles. Add hot and soapy water as necessary, along with an extra squirt of vinegar for any residual water spots or lime deposits.


Though the kitchen sink drain is no one’s favorite thing to clean in the house, it’s important because germs and other critters you’d rather not attract gather there, even if most of them are too small to see with the naked eye. Knowing how to clean kitchen sink drains is an essential part of cleaning a kitchen sink. You’ll be pleased to learn this final step is probably less complicated than you think. All you need to remember is the two-to-one rule, meaning two parts vinegar and one part baking soda. In essence, that’s three-thirds, and two of them are vinegar. First, pour that baking soda down the drain and then chase it with the vinegar, pouring slowly. Take a break for about 20 minutes to let the bubbles work their magic, and then come back with a steady stream of piping hot water to wash it all down. Sanitization and deodorization are now complete!


If you happen to have a garbage disposal in your sink, you can begin with the drain-cleaning method we just described, but you might also want to try a few additional methods for optimal disposal cleanliness and freshness. These include plugging the drain and filling the sink with hot and soapy water before unstopping it and running the disposal while the water and soap flow through the drain. Next, fill the disposal with a cup of ice and a half-cup of coarse salt. Run the disposal for a short while to break up all the ice, and then add a half-cup of baking soda. Let it sit for an hour or so before adding a half-cup of vinegar. Then flush with cold water while the disposal runs for a few minutes. Drop in a lemon wedge or two if you like the scent.

Special types of sinks

  • Stainless steel: The best way to clean stainless-steel sinks is to avoid highly abrasive scrub brushes or cleaners, including bleach. Vinegar and baking soda are best.
  • Porcelain or concrete: Half a lemon with salt. No vinegar. Mild dish soap and hot water.
  • Copper or granite: Hot water and mild dish soap. Nothing abrasive. Soft sponges.
  • Enameled cast iron: Nothing abrasive or acidic. Warm water with mild dish soap.

Thanks for stopping by and reading our guide to everything you need to know about how to clean a kitchen sink. We hope it was helpful. While you’re here, you may also be wondering which is dirtier, your computer’s mouse or your kitchen sink (you won’t find any spoilers on this page). Meanwhile, you can also read our posts on topics like whether your kitchen appliances are ready for the holidays or maybe review our fall moving checklist. Enjoy these topics and more in our carefully curated collection of home-improvement, maintenance and upkeep articles designed to help make your life easier.

The information in this article is intended to provide guidance on the proper maintenance and care of systems and appliances in the home. Not all of the topics mentioned are covered by our home warranty or maintenance plans. Please review your home warranty contract carefully to understand your coverage.

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