Restore Shine to a Stainless Steel Sink

cleaning a stainless steel sink

Harsh abrasive cleaning pads and scouring products can scratch the surface as you try to restore shine to a stainless steel sink. If you're in the middle of remodeling your kitchen and would like to restore your sink's shine, the following tips can help you get rid of stains and hard water deposits that dull without scratching or marring the sink.

No matter which finish you choose, a stainless steel sink can become dull and scratched if isn't cleaned regularly. Once your sink becomes scratched or dulled, food scraps and soap scum stick to it more easily. Restoring the shine may be a multi-part process, because there can be so many factors involved in dulling it such as hard water spots, scratches and food stains.

To Remove Scratches

Some finishes and weights of stainless steel scratch much more easily than others, while some have a "satin" or matte finish. Do not use this technique on a satin-finished sink; it will not buff it to a high shine.


  • Baking soda
  • Water
  • Fine grade steel wool


  1. Mix two parts baking soda to one part water to form a thick paste.
  2. Apply the paste to the scratched areas of the sink and buff the sink using a fine grade steel wool pad.
  3. Rinse the sink well to remove any baking soda residue.

To Remove Hard Water Stains

Hard water tends to streak and build up mineral deposits on stainless steel. To help prevent this, wipe the sink dry each time you use it.


  • Vinegar
  • Paper towel


  1. Soak a paper towel in white vinegar.
  2. Apply the paper towel to the hard water stains and leave it alone for a few minutes.
  3. Buff the sink with the vinegar-soaked towel and rinse well.

To Remove Rust

There is no standard on the production of stainless steel sinks in the United States. This means the thickness and chemical makeup of each sink can be different. While most stainless steel sinks do not rust, some older models may begin to rust around the edges over time. Luckily, this can be cleaned away.


Stainless sink
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Soft cloth


  1. Soak a soft cloth in rubbing alcohol and use it to buff the rusty areas on the sink.
  2. Rinse well and wipe dry.

To Remove Stubborn Food Stains

Depending on the finish of your stainless steel sink, some foods may leave behind a discoloration or stain that can be difficult to rinse away.


  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Cream of tartar
  • Soft cloth


  1. Mix together 1 part hydrogen peroxide to 3 parts cream of tartar.
  2. Rub the resulting paste into the stains on the sink and allow it to sit for several minutes.
  3. Wipe away the paste and rinse well with water.

To Restore Polish

If your sink has merely dulled, but isn't stained or scratched, it can be buffed up a little to help bring back the shine.


  • polishing with flour
    All-purpose flour
  • Soft, dry cloth


  1. Pour some flour into a clean, dry sink.
  2. Use the cloth to buff the flour around the sink. Press down hard with the cloth as you rub.
  3. Rinse the sink clean with water and dry well.

Commercial Cleaners

Barkeeper's Friend
Bar Keepers Friend

Cleaning your sink on a regular basis with a commercial cleaner made for stainless steel will help preserve its shine and prevent dulling. Try any of these brands as your regular sink cleaner to help keep it shining longer.

  • Bon Ami
  • Soft Scrub
  • Stainless Steel Cleaner (made by Iris)
  • Weiman Stainless Steel Wipes
  • Bar Keepers Friend
  • Windex Multi-Surface Cleaner with Vinegar

Keep that Shine

Once you've restored the shine to your sink, be sure to flush the surface with clean water at the end of each day to rinse away acids, salts and minerals that can pit and dull the stainless surface. Then take a moment to dry the sink and restore the shine. These few steps will help keep your sink looking new..

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Restore Shine to a Stainless Steel Sink