How to Clean Your Bathroom Sink No Matter the Material

Jenna Jonaitis
Written by Jenna Jonaitis
Updated November 10, 2022
Modern bathroom with porcelain sink
Photo: Pixel-shot / Adobe Stock

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

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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 clean a bathroom sink properly will not only remove those unsightly globs of toothpaste, but it will also get rid of germs and bacteria and make your sink shine.

What You Need to Clean a Bathroom Sink

You’ll need the following to clean a bathroom sink, no matter the material:

  • Microfiber cleaning cloth or sponge

  • Old toothbrush or soft bristle brush for scrubbing tough areas

  • Non-abrasive cleaner(more on choosing the right one in the next section)

You may also need specialized cleaners and tools, depending on what sink material you have. For instance, you’ll need baking soda if you’re planning to clean the sink drain. You’ll need protective wax for copper and stone sinks. You should pick up paper towels and hydrogen peroxide to wipe porcelain and stainless steel sinks. 

What Are the Best Cleaners for Bathroom Sinks?

The best cleaner for bathroom sinks is a non-abrasive all-purpose cleaner, liquid soap, or a 50:50 mixture of distilled white vinegar and water. These products are mild and won't harm your bathroom sink, but effective enough to cut through grime and soap scum. If you have areas that need tougher cleaning, sprinkle on baking soda and scrub with an old toothbrush. 

Here are the best cleaners for each bathroom sink material: 

Porcelain, stainless steel, and glass: All-purpose cleaner or 50:50 mixture of distilled white vinegar and water

Copper and stone: Liquid dish soap

How to Clean a Porcelain or Stainless Steel Bathroom Sink

Porcelain sinks are made of durable clay, iron, steel, and other materials with a porcelain coating. They’re easy to clean, and regular maintenance helps prevent stains. Stainless steel is also easy to clean, and you can follow the same method as you do with porcelain sinks. Cleaning your stainless steel sink prevents corrosion, making it an important maintenance step.

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 buildup. 

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 your 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 a Copper Bathroom Sink

Copper sinks are not only beautiful, but they’re also easy to maintain. There are three basic types of copper sinks: 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. 

1. Rinse and Apply Cleaner

Spray the sink with water and add a few drops of liquid soap. Never use abrasive cleaners such as bleach on copper sinks, as they will damage the surface.  

2. Scrub the Surface Gently 

With a soft cloth or a soft-bristled nylon brush, scrub gently from the edges of the sink down toward the drain. Use your brush to get into the crevices and around the fixtures. 

3. Rinse the Sink

Rinse the sink with warm water to remove the soapy residue. 

4. Wipe Down Faucet and Fixtures

Spray an all-purpose cleaner on your faucet and handles, then wipe them down with a cleaning cloth.

5. Apply Wax

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

How to Clean a Stone Bathroom Sink

There are various stone sinks on the market today. Granite, marble, onyx, travertine, and soapstone are the most commonly used stones for sinks. No matter which of these you have, you should never use abrasive cleaners or steel wool to clean them. Abrasive cleaners and steel wool will damage the finish of your sink regardless of the type of stone material. 

Here’s a better routine you can follow to clean a stone bathroom sink.

1. Apply Cleaner

To clean your marble, granite, onyx, travertine, or soapstone sink, spray the sink with water, then apply a few drops of mild liquid soap.

2. Scrub From the Edges to the Drain

Scrub your sink with a soft cloth, a non-abrasive sponge, or a soft nylon brush. Work from the edges down toward the drain. 

3. Rinse

Rinse your sink with water. Start from the edges and send the soapy water and debris down the drain.

4. Wipe Down Faucet and Fixtures

Spray an all-purpose cleaner on your faucet and handles, then wipe them down with a cleaning cloth.

5. Apply Wax 

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.

How to Clean a Glass Bathroom Sink

Cleaning your glass bathroom sink is pretty straightforward. 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. 

1. Spray Cleaning Solution 

Create a mixture 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 your sink, especially the areas with hard water stains.

2. Allow the Cleaner to Sit

Let the mixture sit for 10 minutes to help break up stains, debris, and soap residue. 

3. Scrub the Sink

Working from the edges toward the drain, gently scrub the sink with a cloth. Use an old toothbrush on harder-to-clean areas. 

4. Wipe Down Faucet and Fixtures

Spray an all-purpose cleaner on your faucet and handles, then wipe them down with a cleaning cloth.

5. Rinse the Sink

Rinse the sink with water, starting from the edges down to the drain. Let the sink dry. 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 you should keep clean. Drains can be a hotbed of microbial activity where a buildup of hair and gunk can provide the perfect breeding place for various types of bacteria. This buildup can also cause your sink to drain slowly

1. Remove the Stopper

The first step to cleaning out your sink drain 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. 

2. Disinfect the Drain

Once you remove the debris, put the stopper back in. 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 1 cup of white vinegar. The fizzing reaction that occurs will help break down any clogs in the sink. 

3. Flush the Drain

Let the solution sit in the drain for an hour, and then flush the drain with another half-gallon of boiling water.

How to Keep Your Sink Clean

Keep your bathroom sink clean and free of hard-to-scrub grime by following a few tips.

Rinse Away Debris Immediately

Clear away debris, gunk, and toothpaste as soon as it lands in your sink. Wipe it away with a cloth or your hands, then rinse the sink with water. By preventing any grime from sitting and drying on your sink, you can keep your sink looking sparkly longer and keep germs at bay. 

Flush the Drain Weekly

Pour hot water down your sink drain once a week to prevent residue buildup and mildew.

Clean Your Bathroom Regularly

Once a week, clean your bathroom, including the countertops and sink. This routine will keep your sink clean and disinfected. 

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.

Frequently Asked Questions

You can apply baking soda and distilled white vinegar to your sink’s surface, then rinse with water and scrub a microfiber cloth to get your sink white again. For tough spots, let the baking soda and vinegar sit for at least an hour, then gently scrub with an old toothbrush. 

These non-abrasive cleaners get your sink white without causing damage. More abrasive cleaners, such as hydrogen peroxide and bleach, can discolor your sink and leave permanent damage.

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