How to clean a bathroom sink

We show you the quickest, but most effective, ways to remove soap grime, rust and limescale, leaving your sink sparkling clean and smelling fresh

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Considering all the soap and water that constantly flows through your sink you’d think it would be eternally clean – unfortunately not. Soap gunk, cosmetics stains, rust and water marks build up quickly without regular cleaning. But don't despair, we've put together an easy to follow guide to cleaning a sink to keep it looking as good as new. 

For more cleaning tips and hacks go and check out our dedicated cleaning hub, or to find the best bathroom cleaners, head to our guide.

You will need

Depending on what material your sink is made out of you might need to adopt an alternative process to clean it. Here are our top tips:

How to clean a porcelain or copper sink

White porcelain sinks will quickly show up any marks or dirt. Here is a quick trick to make them sparkle again in just 10 minutes, with very little effort or scrubbing. The secret is Bar Keeper's Friend. It removes hard water stains, scratches and even scuff marks. 

Wet the entire sink, shake a bit of the Bar Keeper’s Friend powder all over and leave for 10 minutes. Wet a scourer and gently scrub the powder into the sink. Rinse off well with water and pat dry with a paper towel. With copper sinks you will notice the brown part of the copper has come off and you now have that beautiful 'new penny' look once again. Stand back and watch it sparkle.

bathroom with white herringbone tiles with rounded corner mirror and freestanding sink


(Image: © Fired Earth)

How to clean a ceramic sink 

To begin cleaning a ceramic sink scrub away any dirt with a mixture of washing up liquid and warm water, mixed in a bowl. Soak some paper towels in vinegar and use them to line the sink. Leave for half an hour, then remove and rub off with a damp cloth. This will remove any limescale deposits too. 

If there are any remaining problem stains cut a lemon in half and squeeze lemon juice over the problem areas and leave for 30 minutes. Dab with a sponge and rinse away with running water from the tap. Wipe the whole sink over with a clean, wet cloth. Check our more nifty cleaning hacks that don't use cleaning products.

How to clean a granite sink

Always use gentle cleaning methods when cleaning granite sinks as they usually have sealants on to protect the natural stone. Soak a sponge sourer with hot water and 2–3 drops of washing up liquid or a you can use a 50/50 mix of water and vinegar. 

Gently scrub areas of dirt or grime. Rinse away all soap residue with warm water. Dry with a soft microfibre towel or soft cloth. Apply a few teaspoons of olive oil to a dry cloth and rub all over the sink, leave to sit for one minute. Wipe excess oil away with a clean cloth and buff. The granite should now be shiny and not feel greasy as you wipe your finger over it.

brightly coloured Portuguese inspired tiles in batrhoom with sink and freestanding unit

(Image: © Lime Lace)

How to clean a glass sink

Glass sinks have become more popular in recent years and their upkeep is not dissimilar from your drinking glasses or windows. Clean glasses sinks with a mixture of washing-up liquid and warm water, using a sponge scourer to tackle any soap scum.

To make it shine, rinse well then spray with vinegar and polish dry with a microfibre cloth or paper towels.

How to clean basin taps

The best way to clean your sink taps is by using an old toothbrush and bicarbonate of soda. Dampen the brush with water and sprinkle the bicarb directly onto the bristles. Scrub back and forth over problem areas. 

Leave it to work its magic for 10 to 15 minutes then wash away with warm water and a clean cloth. For any limescale gathering around the base of your tap use lemon juice. Simply cut a lemon in half, squeeze lemon juice directly onto the mark and leave to soak for one hour. Or soak cotton wool pads in lemon juice and wrap them around the relevant parts of the taps, again leave to soak for an hour. Rinse with cold water and wipe clean.

Peter Grech transformed his bathroom into a stylish sanctuary, and won our 2018 Real Homes award for best bathroom


(Image: © Katie Lee)

How to clean the drain

The drain is often the problem area for all sink types with blockages and murky smells being very common. First, you could try using a specialist drain unblocker. Usually you pour a whole bottle down the drain, so this may not be the most cost- effective solution and it does involve some very harsh chemicals. 

For an eco-friendly alternative pour ½ pint (125 g/16 tbsp) of bicarb down the drain followed by ½ pint of white vinegar. Don't be alarmed by the noticeable fizzing noise as they work together to unclog your drain.

After the fizzing decreases, wait five minutes before flushing the drain with two litres of very hot or boiling water. Try and repeat this process once a week to keep the drain clear.

For more tips on how to unblock a sink, have a read through our feature. 

Don’t forget to clean the plug hole

To begin remove the plug hole or drain cover. The simplest way to do this is to put your finger in hole and lift out or push an old toothbrush through and lift. Give the drain cover a good clean with a toothbrush using either vinegar or a mixture of water and bicarbonate of soda.

You can also spray bathroom cleaner inside the drain and really scrub using the toothbrush to remove mould build up. Replace the cover and clean around the top of the plug hole. If you have stubborn build up try removing it with a toothpick.

5 tips to keep your sink clean

  • Do not leave metal beauty tools (like eyelash curlers, nail clippers or scissors) on the side of the sink. Any standing water will cause them to rust and stain porcelain, enamel or ceramic sinks.
  • Never use steel wool, wire brushes or abrasive sponge pads to clean as they will leave scratches and damage surfaces. 
  • Give your sink a quick wipe over with a wet cloth after every use.
  • WD-40 is great to remove any rust spots. Simply wipe WD-40 on the spot with a cloth and then rinse thoroughly.
  • Rinse toothpaste and soap off your sink straight away to prevent it from sticking.

Read more on keeping your bathroom clean: