How to Restore Stainless Steel Sinks

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Things You'll Need

  • Sponge or cloth

  • Gentle scouring pad

  • Cleaners

  • Polish

Stainless steel sinks were introduced to American households in the mid-20th century. They are affordable and lightweight, and they are practically unbreakable.

However, maintaining the new look of a stainless steel sink can present problems, especially in hard-water areas. Dissolved minerals in the water can cause streaks, spots and dull film on the sink. Hard water magnifies the reactions with acids and salts in foods. You can remedy these problems and restore the finish on your stainless steel sink with some simple products.


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Step 1

Remove lime and hard-water build-up by soaking a cloth in vinegar and placing it over the lime area for no more than 30 minutes. It will soften the scale build-up so you can scrub it away. Rinse the sink thoroughly.

Remove hard-water streaks by wiping the sink with vinegar, and then rinsing and wiping it dry.

Step 2

Gently scour the stainless steel sink with a very mild cleanser such as baking soda, Bon Ami, Bartender's Friend or Cameo. Lime-Away, kitchen de-greasers and other chemical products can leave black marks on stainless steel, which can be removed with a mild abrasive and some elbow grease.


For a sink with a brushed finish, scrub in the direction of the grain. Rinse completely after scrubbing.

Step 3

Remove rust stains with a small amount of lighter fluid on a sponge or cloth. Rub the rust stain until it is gone. Follow with a cleanser scrub, and rinse thoroughly.


Step 4

Once the sink is clean, restore the finish with a commercial restoring product or with ordinary car polish. Use polish, not a wax product. Polish has mild abrasives and finishing elements that will restore the shine to your sink. For a brushed-finish sink, always work the polish in the direction of the grain. Rinse and buff the new finish.


Step 5

Maintain your shiny new finish by cleaning it daily. Normal kitchen and food items that contain salts, acids and minerals may pit the finish.

Rubbing alcohol removes water spots. Use on a cloth and wipe the spots away. Rinse and wipe the sink dry.


Hydrogen peroxide cleans and disinfects the sink. Use some on a gentle scrubber; rinse and wipe dry.

A paste of one part baking soda and one part water is a good scouring cleanser that leaves the sink shining without scratching the finish; rinse well and wipe dry.

Make it a habit to rinse the sink thoroughly and wipe it dry after use. This is the best way to avoid streaks, spots, and dull film.


Always wipe your sink dry. Allowing it to air-dry creates an environment where hard water deposits and food and detergent residues can build up, creating a dull film on the finish.


Use lighter fluid with care. Do not allow it to come in contact with countertops or rubber seals around faucets. If this occurs, immediately wash the area with cleanser and rinse well. Have good ventilation when using lighter fluid, and do not use near open flames.

When using any cleaner, check the label to be sure the product is safe to use on stainless steel. Many cleaning products have specific label warnings notto use them on stainless steel


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