How to Clean and Buff a Stainless Steel Sink

Get your stainless steel sink looking like new in just a few steps

Amy Pawlukiewicz
Written by Amy Pawlukiewicz
Reviewed by Asya Biddle
Updated July 26, 2022
A stainless steel twin sink with marble countertop and view to the backyard
Photo: John Keeble / Moment / Getty Images


Simple project; big impact.

Time to complete

15 minutes

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What you'll need:


  • Soft or microfiber cloth
  • Nylon scrub brush
  • Sponge
  • Gloves
  • Toothbrush
  • A spray bottle


  • Baking soda
  • Vinegar
  • Olive oil
  • Cream of tartar
  • Dish soap

With so many appliances in your home, it’s easy to forget about your sink. But with all of those pasta dinners and their messy clean-ups, this kitchen tool can use some TLC. 

While giving your stainless steel sink a cleaning once a week or so will keep bacteria from building up, a good deep cleaning and buffing will make it look like new. The good news is it can all be done with products you already have in your kitchen. Here’s how to clean and buff your stainless steel sink.

  1. Empty and Rinse

    You’ll want to start with a completely empty sink, so remove any dishes or cleaning implements. Then do a good, thorough rinse with hot tap water to push any bits of leftover food down the drain. Don’t neglect your faucet and the edges of the sink when you’re doing your pre-rinse, and if there are any stubborn, stuck-on bits, use a little dish soap and your sponge to scrub those off.

  2. Coat With Baking Soda

    Once your sink is all rinsed out, coat the surface with a sprinkling of baking soda. Baking soda is the unsung hero of the kitchen. You can use it to keep things smelling fresh, in cleaning, and of course, in your baked goods. Baking soda won’t scratch the finish of your stainless steel, but it will get rid of water stains, grease, and odors. 

  3. Scrub

    A woman’s hand cleaning with a sponge a stainless steel sink
    Photo: Naked King / iStock / Getty Images Plus / Getty Images

    For the next part, you’ll want to put on your gloves because baking soda can dry out your skin and make it itchy. Look at your sink—you should be able to tell which way the grain of the steel goes. The grain looks like faded lines, and it will either go horizontally or vertically. Using your nylon brush, gently scrub with the direction of the grain. You can also use an acrylic pad for this part if you don’t have a brush.

    Then switch to the toothbrush, using it to really get into the corners and smaller spots that you can’t reach with the larger brush.

  4. Add Vinegar

    Remember that science experiment in school where you make a volcano erupt? It’s time to do a mini version of that with your sink. Cleaning with vinegar and baking soda is a popular alternative to store-bought cleaners. Pour some white vinegar into your spray bottle, then spray it on the baking powder residue left on your sink. 

    Let it sit for a few minutes and have its “volcanic” chemical reaction (i.e., bubbling a bit), and once it stops bubbling, rinse your sink thoroughly. Dry the sink immediately with a cloth to avoid leaving spots. If your sink was really dirty to begin with, or if this is your first time doing a deep clean, you may need to repeat this step.

  5. Spot Treat

    If you’ve got rust stains on your sink or other stains that won’t budge even after the baking soda and vinegar scrub, you can use a paste made from cream of tartar and vinegar to scrub those out. Mix 1 cup of white vinegar with a quarter cup of cream of tartar (or a 1:4 ratio if you don’t want to make that much). Apply the mixture to the stain and let it sit for a few minutes. Rinse with warm water and dry the area.

  6. Buff It Out

    This step is where your sink really gets to shine (pun intended). Using a little bit of olive oil and a cloth, buff your sink and fixtures until they gleam. A little olive oil goes a long way, so if you use too much, wipe it away with a dry cloth. The olive oil will not only make your sink look nice, but it will also protect your sink by forming a barrier that will keep your sink clean for longer.

    “Always utilize a soft sponge and a natural abrasive cleaning solution when trying to remove buildup or residue as most materials in the home will scratch very easily," said Asya Biddle, Angi Expert Review Board member and manager of The Dustbusters, a family-owned and operated janitorial company in Williamsport, PA. “This is a mistake that many homeowners and even cleaning professionals have made.”

Other Tips

  • Do not use any metal scrubbing pads or brushes on your sink. They’ll scratch it up and damage the finish.

  • If you don’t have vinegar, you can scrub your sink with baking soda and water, then go over it with half of a lemon.

  • Prevent water spots from forming on your sink in between cleanings by drying the sink after using it. Water spots form from water being left in droplets to air dry.

  • After using the olive oil, wipe your fixtures thoroughly so they aren’t slippery.

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