How to clean a sink — 5 steps to a brilliant basin

Say goodbye to kitchen grime with our pro guide on how to clean a sink, packed with expert tips and product recommendations

Learn how to clean your sink so it's sparkling like this white ceramic sink shot from above, with silver faucet, yellow sponge and spray
(Image credit: SolStock/Getty Images)

Knowing how to clean a sink is essential if you want to keep your kitchen gleaming and free of germs. 

The kitchen sink is one of the busiest areas in a home — and dirtiest too, if you're not careful. But luckily, our expert guide will walk you through the five steps to clean yours, the products to help you do it and some handy pro tips along the way.

When it comes to cleaning your kitchen, there really is no better place to start than the sink. So grab your gloves and get ready to make it shine.

How to clean a sink like a pro

When it comes to cleaning a kitchen a sink, you'll need the right cleaning supplies alongside advice from our industry experts to to banish bacteria, freshen your faucets and bring your basin back to its brilliant best.

Where our experts have suggested products, we've curated matching buys with trusted retailers so you can grab them and get going in a flash. 

All prices were correct at time of publication.

1. Gather cleaning supplies

Arm of person cleaning grey stainless steel sink with lots of soapy water and a sponge

(Image credit: Kinga Krzeminska/Getty Images)

Before attacking that sink, arm yourself with the necessary kit. When learning to clean a sink properly, you will need:

With these tools at your disposal, you're prepared to face any grime-induced challenge that dares to tarnish your sink's gleaming glory.

2. Clear out the sink

Unlike cleaning a bathroom sink, you'll want to prepare the battlefield by clearing away any debris or dishware cluttering your kitchen sink. 

Karina Toner, of Spekless Cleaning, says, "It's important to start with a fresh slate. Clean and remove any dishes, food scraps or debris to provide a clear workspace. Then rinse the sink with warm water to loosen any dirt or grime."

With your materials to hand and your sink clear, it's time to get to business, starting with the drain.

Profile photo of Karina Toner, operations manager at Spekless Cleaning
Karina Toner

Karina is an Operations Manager at Spekless Cleaning, a prominent cleaning company based in Arlington, VA. With over a decade of hands-on experience in the cleaning industry, she's honed her expertise in providing top-notch cleaning solutions tailored to meet the unique needs of clients effectively, and sustainably.

3. Unclog the drain

Black kitchen sink within a wooden-top counter

(Image credit: Kseniya Ovchinnikova/Getty Images)

It's the part you don't see, but you'll certainly smell it when that drain gets dirty. Cleaning the sink drain where food scraps and forgotten remnants gather is the first step to a refreshed kitchen sink.

Begin by pouring half a cup of baking soda (this two-pack Arm and Hammer baking soda from Amazon is handy so you can have a box in the kitchen and another in the bathroom) down the drain, followed with a generous glug of white vinegar.

Wells Ye, founder of Fresh Tech Maid, says, "This dynamic duo dissolves blockages and devours odors. Give the mixture a few minutes to bubble and pass through the drain, before washing any remaining particles from the channel with boiling water."

Karina adds, "As an extra tip for ongoing drain maintenance, use a sink strainer to prevent food scraps and debris from clogging your drain. Empty it regularly to keep your sink draining smoothly — otherwise standing water will build, which can lead to mineral deposits and scum build-up."

Profile photo of Fresh Tech Maids founder Wells Ye
Wells Ye

Wells Ye is the brains behind Fresh Tech Maid — a respected, Chicago-based home cleaning service that boasts more than 10,000 happy clients thanks to more than 50,000 successful cleans. 

4. Clean the basin

Soapy sponge, scourer side up, in a bubbly stainless steel kitchen sink

(Image credit: PixelsEffect/Getty Images)

Next, it's time to tackle the heart of your kitchen sink — the basin. Your approach should vary depending on its material.

Will Cotter, of FreshSpace Cleaning, says, "Choosing the right cleaner is super important to avoid damaging the surface of your sink. For example, if you have a stainless steel sink, I recommend using the Weiman Stainless Steel Cleaner and Polish from Target. It's amazing and leaves a protective barrier to repel water and fingerprints."

You can also clean a stainless steel sink by sprinkling baking soda liberally across the basin's surface, before cleaning away with a damp sponge. A few drops of mineral oil (eucalyptus oil smells lovely) applied with a soft cloth can bestow a glossy finish worthy of admiration. 

For porcelain sinks, create a paste of baking soda and water. Apply it with a soft brush to banish stubborn stains without fear of scratching. Alternatively, cover the basin with Bar Keeper's Friend from Amazon , leave for 10 minutes, scrub with a wet scourer, then rinse with warm water. 

Composite sinks can be spruced up with a vinegar-water solution to maintain their brilliance without compromising surface integrity. The Weiman Granite Clean & Shine from Target is also a very effective option.

Will adds, "For extra-effective results, precede your sink clean by dropping a denture cleaning (such as Walmart's Polident antibacterial effervescent denture cleaning tablets) or dishwasher tablet into the sink the evening before, add hot water, and let it sit overnight. Unlike abrasive cleaners, they won't scratch or damage the sink's finish."

Will Cotter, COO of HappyCleans, standing in sunshine in front of San Francisco Bridge.
Will Cotter

Will Cotter is the owner of FreshSpace Cleaning — which serves homes in multiple locations across the south and beyond — as well as other cleaning companies in Indianapolis, Oklahoma, Milwaukee, and Louisville.

5. Clean the faucet and handles

White ceramic sink in kitchen with wooden counters and a black or dark gray faucet

(Image credit: Westend61/Getty Images)

For that good-as-new look, cleaning the faucet head and handles of the sink is your all-important finishing touch.

Josh Mitchell, of Plumbing Lab, says, "The faucet and handles are notorious for accumulating grime and bacteria, so they require special attention. Dip an old toothbrush or a small brush into a soapy-water solution and use it to scrub around the base of the faucet and in between any crevices or grooves. 

"For stubborn limescale or mineral deposits around the faucet, soak a cloth in white vinegar and wrap it around the affected area. Let it sit for a few minutes to dissolve the build-up, before wiping it clean."

Rinse thoroughly to ensure no soapy residue remains to mar the shine. For a finishing touch, buff your faucets dry with a clean, dry cloth, allowing them to gleam with new-found radiance.

Josh Mitchell Profile Pic
Josh Mitchell

Josh Mitchell is a trained residential plumber and owner of Plumbing Lab, which aims to help America's homeowners resolve their everyday plumbing issues easily and effectively.

These five simple steps, and a little elbow grease, will reward you with a sparkling kitchen sink you can be proud of.

Next, expand your efforts by deep-cleaning your kitchen and keep it gleaming with the best cleaning supply subscriptions so you never run out of the products you need to stay on top of cleaning at home.

Andy van Terheyden
Freelance Writer

I'm a senior writer with an English degree and NCJ qualification, plus years of experience writing news, lifestyle and consumer articles for the national and international press. I'm also a copywriter, working on a breadth of consumer and corporate projects, and a private education consultant. I live in the quiet of the countryside and spend my weekends mooching around homeware shops, completing DIY tasks to breathe life into my small, newly-built home.