How to Clean Your Bathroom Sink in 4 Simple Steps

Kristi Pahr
Written by Kristi Pahr
Updated May 11, 2022
Modern bathroom with porcelain sink
Photo: Pixel-shot / Adobe Stock
Difficulty

Easy

You've got this!

Time to complete

30 minutes

15-30 minutes

Keep dirt and grime out of your bathroom sink by following these easy steps

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What you'll need:

TOOLS

  • Non-abrasive liquid soap
  • Clean kitchen rag or towel
  • Soft-bristle nylon brush

It may seem like a no-brainer. Cleaning the bathroom sink is something everyone regularly does when they see hair and gunk build up in the basin. But cleaning your bathroom sink correctly isn’t as straightforward as you may think. Learning how to properly deep-clean your sink will not only remove those unsightly globs of toothpaste, but it will also get rid of germs and bacteria and make your sink shine.

How to Clean a Porcelain or Stainless Steel Bathroom Sink

  1. Rinse and Apply Cleaner

    First, rinse the sink with warm water and add the non-abrasive cleaner. Scrub with your sponge or a washcloth to remove toothpaste and soap build-up. 

  2. Identify Stubborn Stains

    Rinse the sink and identify any stains that may need extra attention. It’s common to find hard water stains and rust stains below the faucet and around the drain, especially if you have well water. Both types of stains require a little extra elbow grease, but they should come clean if you follow the instructions below.

  3. Apply Hydrogen Peroxide Mixture

    If stains are present, you’ll need to use a hydrogen peroxide mixture to remove them. Layer a few paper towels in the basin and soak them with a solution made of one part water and one part hydrogen peroxide. Let the damp paper towels sit in the basin for two to three minutes, and then remove them and rinse the sink thoroughly. Hydrogen peroxide not only removes stains, but it will also disinfect the sink.

  4. Scrub Drains and Fixtures

    To clean the caulking and the sealant around you drains and fixtures, spread a small amount of toothpaste into the crevices and scrub them with an old toothbrush. Rinse thoroughly when finished. 

How to Clean Other Types of Bathroom Sinks

Since bathroom sinks are made from various materials, how you clean them depends on their material. Porcelain is the most common sink material, but you could also have a sink made of stainless steel, copper, stone, glass, or enameled cast iron.

When cleaning your bathroom sink, there’s more to it than scrubbing out the basin. Drains, caulking, and joints where fixtures are attached can harbor bacteria, so you should ensure that you clean between all of the nooks and crannies.

Cleaning a Copper Bathroom Sink

Copper sinks are not only beautiful, but they’re also easy to maintain. There are three basic types: raw copper, lacquered copper, and finished copper. Raw copper is unfinished and will naturally develop a green-colored finish called a patina after being exposed to air and water for a while. Lacquered copper is covered in a protective lacquer to protect its shiny surface from patination, and finished copper is pre-patinated and protected. The good news is that you should clean the three types of copper the same way. 

To clean, you only need liquid soap and a soft cloth or a soft-bristled nylon brush. Never use abrasive cleaners on copper sinks as they will damage the surface. Simply spray the sink with water and add liquid soap. Scrub gently and use your brush to get into the crevices around the fixtures. Rinse with warm water to remove the soapy residue. 

If you want to keep your raw copper sink from developing a patina, or you don’t want your patina to change over time, you can wax your sink with carnauba wax or special copper wax once the sink is dry.

Cleaning a Stone Bathroom Sink

There are a variety of stone sinks on the market today. Granite, marble, onyx, travertine, and soapstone are the most commonly used stones for sinks, and they all have one thing in common—never use abrasive cleaners or steel wool to clean. Abrasive cleaners and steel wool will damage the finish of your sink regardless of the type of stone material. 

To clean your marble, granite, onyx, travertine, or soapstone sink, all you need is mild liquid soap and a little elbow grease. Scrub stone finishes with a soft cloth, a non-abrasive sponge, or a soft nylon brush, and then rinse the sink.

If the manufacturer did not seal your stone sink, apply a coat of wax at least once a month to protect the stone from stains and discoloration. Special stone waxes are available at home improvement stores, or you can use pure carnauba wax.

Cleaning a Glass Bathroom Sink

Cleaning your glass bathroom sink is pretty straightforward. Liquid soap and a soft cloth will do the trick. However, if you have hard water stains in your sink, it will get a little more complicated. Hard water is a common problem, especially if your home runs on well water. Mineral deposits from hard water build up and cause unsightly discoloration on glass surfaces, and they’re hard to ignore. 

To clean hard water stains from your glass bathroom sink, create a mixture made of equal parts white vinegar and water or a mixture of equal parts lemon juice and water. Put the solution in a spray bottle and apply it to the stains. Let the mixture sit for 10 minutes, and then the stain should be easy to scrub away.

To prevent future hard water stains from developing in your glass sink, wipe the sink dry after every use.

How to Clean Bathroom Sink Drains

The basin isn’t the only part of your bathroom sink that should be kept clean. Drains can be a hotbed of microbial activity where build-ups of hair and gunk not only provide the perfect breeding place for various types of bacteria, but they can also cause your sink to drain slowly

To clean out your sink drain, the first step is to remove the stopper and set it aside. If hair or debris is visible in the drain, you can use a pair of needle-nose pliers to pull it out. Once the debris is removed, flush the drain with a half-gallon of boiling water and then slowly add a cup of baking soda to the drain. Follow the baking soda with one cup of white vinegar. 

The fizzing reaction that occurs will help break down any clogs in the sink. Let the solution sit in the drain for an hour, and then flush the drain with another half-gallon of boiling water.

DIY vs. Hiring a Professional

Cleaning your bathroom sink is a simple and straightforward home maintenance task. If you hire a cleaning service for your home, a professional cleaner will clean all the sinks in the home. If you typically take care of housekeeping and cleaning tasks personally, there’s no reason to call in a professional cleaner. 

A few exceptions might include if you’re moving into a new home or you’re moving out and you want your home professionally cleaned before showing it to potential buyers. If your sink is made of a material you are unfamiliar with, like copper or brass, you might consider calling a professional cleaner to show you the proper way to maintain it.

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