How To Clean Your Bathroom Sink In 6 Easy Steps

The place where you clean your hands and brush your teeth needs some routine TLC.

The bathroom sink is an unsung hero when it comes to our hygiene. It brings us the first sensation of water when it’s finally time to peel out of bed (splash!), and it helps wash away a full day’s grind when we're barely able to keep our eyes open (sleepy scrub).

Let’s be real, though. Usually, we straight-up ignore it. It will never be as beloved as its big brother, the bath, or oohed and aahed like its fancy cousin, the dishwasher. It’s just your bathroom sink. Omnipresent, never obtrusive, and usually forgotten until you look down and realize that it’s encrusted with speckles of dried toothpaste. Gross.

The thing is, that’s the least of it.

Your bathroom sink is probably teeming with bacteria.

You’d think that the daily running of water mixed with soap would keep it clean, but alas. It’s actually an active hotbed for the worst of the microorganisms. Stagnant pools of water, although tiny, breed some of the nastiest microbes for us humans to consume. This includes Streptococcus, Campylobacter and E. coli.

Okay, so before you run upstairs to scrub your bathroom sink in a disgusted panic, there’s a few things you need to keep in mind.

Know thy bathroom sink.

While the cleaning steps we outline should be sufficient for your average unkempt sink, it’s crucial to remember what your sink is made from, especially when it comes to determining what types of cleaning products you apply to it, in case you want a deeper scrub. Below we’ve listed several kinds of common sink materials. Just identify which is yours, and note its general ongoing maintenance tips (if applicable), and if there’s anything you need to avoid before you dive in and play Cinderella.

Cleaning ceramic, porcelain, fireclay, and cast iron sinks

These hard materials are all extraordinarily durable, and resistant to scratching and chipping—which is why they’re some of the most popular materials out there for sinks. However, they still can be damaged. When cleaning them, it’s crucial that you avoid the following:

  • Do not use any scouting pads or brushes—especially if they’re made from metal (like steel wool).
  • Do not use abrasive cleaners or scouring powders—they could scratch or damage the surface.
  • Generally, avoid bleach (can be used with care and on occasion if your sink is white).

Cleaning stainless steel sinks

While more popular for a kitchen sink, stainless steel still makes an appearance in the modern bathroom. They’re durable, and are able to withstand intense scrubbing, but they're certainly not to the caliber of Thor’s hammer. Stainless steel can scratch when not cared for properly. Here’s what you should avoid:

  • Do not use steel wool or brushes. Not only will they scratch the surface, but they will make it more vulnerable to rust and stains.
  • Do not use abrasive cleaners or scouring powders. They will scratch the surface and consequently dull the finish.
  • Avoid bleach and any kind of cleaner with chlorine, as it will also lead to possible damages.

Cleaning resin and composite sinks

Resin is the budget guy’s marble (or granite). Think: really, really tough plastic. Sometimes it’s polymer mixed with granite dust. Nonporous and resistant to stains, it’s a pretty easy-going, low-maintenance material, like the best roommate ever. However, it can still get scratched sometimes. Here are some tips:

  • Do not use steel wool or brushes, as it could scratch the surfaces.
  • Do not use abrasive cleaners or scouring powders.
  • Do not use bleach.
  • Pro tip: if there is scratch, there’s a secret. You actually can rub it out using coarse sandpaper, ever so softly.

Cleaning natural stone sinks

Think: granite sinks, marble sinks, travertine sinks, sandstone sinks, onyx sinks, jade sinks, and soapstone sinks. If one thing’s for certain, these materials are hard and tough for your daily morning wash. However, they’re kind of porous—and need to be resealed at least once a year (Yeah, that’s right! Most people don’t know this, and so don’t do it!). Basically, you want to protect these kinds of stones from mineral deposits like salt, lime, or even just soap buildup. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Do not use cleaners that are highly acidic (aka, have a high pH). Yes, this even includes natural cleaners, like vinegar or lemon juice.
  • Do not use steel wool or brushes.
  • Do not use abrasive cleaners.
  • Bleach actually can be used on occasion—but it’s crucial to water it down. Do not use it daily.

Cleaning quartz sinks

Quartz is one of the most durable sink materials out there. It’s as smooth and as hard as polished granite, but unlike typical natural stones, it’s nonporous. Consequently, they’re way less maintenance (you needn’t seal them yearly). Still, you just can't throw anything on them and hope they’ll withstand the pressure. Things to remember:

  • Do not use cleaners that are highly acidic—and yes, this includes natural cleaners like vinegar and lemon juice.
  • Do not use steel wools or brushes.
  • Do not use abrasive cleaners that can dull the color and finish of your sink.

Cleaning tempered glass sinks

Tempered glass (often nicknamed “toughened glass”) is far stronger than your average glass. However, it can still break and scratch if you’re rough with it. One cool thing? It can be lightly cleaned using the same spray you use on your windows! Here’s some things to keep in mind when you’re cleaning:

  • Do not use any abrasive pads.
  • Do not use cleaners containing any abrasive powders.
  • Do not use bleach, ammonia, alcohol or chlorine.

Bathroom sink cleaning supplies

After you’ve established what products you absolutely should avoid on your particular sink, here’s what you need when you’re cleaning. The best part of this? You probably have all of this already at your house.

  • 2–3 cotton towels or soft sponges (keep one dry for the end)
  • Liquid dish soap (our favorite is Dawn)
  • Disinfectant spray, like Microban 24
  • Water

Yep, that’s it!

Let’s get to it: How to clean a bathroom sink in 6 easy steps

1. First, wipe the bathroom sink down.

  • Using your dry cotton towel or sponge, wipe your entire basin dry.
  • Get out all the grime, hair and dust that you can just by using your hands.
  • Don’t forget about the faucet.

2. Now rinse the sink with hot water.

  • Run the hot water—this will loosen up the soap scum and dirt, and help kill the bacteria.
  • Now wet your cotton cloth or sponge, make sure the hot water gets in contact with the sides and rub it around.
  • Wipe down the facet with the hot water, too.

3. Add some soap, and let the bubbles do their magic.

  • Squirt a couple drops of dish soap into the basin.
  • Plug the sink.
  • Turn on the water to warm (or as hot as you can touch without it hurting!), fill up half the sink and watch the bubbles appear.

4. Scrub and drain!

  • Take your towel or sponge, and scrub the remaining dirt and grime.
  • Be sure to give the drain a little TLC, focusing on whatever little crevices there might be, including the facet.
  • Drain the water.

5. Rinse and dry the sink.

  • Using cold water, rise the sink until all the bubbles are gone and no soap residue is left.
  • Then, take a dry cloth—wipe it completely dry.

6. Disinfect!

  • Finally, once the sink is dry, take a disinfecting spray, and spray the basin and the faucet.
  • Dry both the sink and the faucet with your cloth until it looks brand-new!

Pesky stains?

Is there a gross mystery blotch on your porcelain? If your sink is showing some stubborn stains, before you jump on the bleach, first try a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser Bath.

Now, you cannot do this with granite, quartz, or stainless steel—but for fireclay, porcelain, fireclay, cast iron, resin, or tempered glass sinks, it can work like a charm. Using light pressure at first, see if the stain pulls away from the surface. Seriously, it’s one of our favorite bathroom cleaning hacks.

It’s time to get this into your routine.

Since the bathroom sink is particularly susceptible to bacteria, it’s important that you try to wash your sink once a week. (Don’t forget other neglectable areas in your bathroom—like the shower drain, for example!). However, if you want to stretch this, you will be able to go longer between deep cleans if you consistently dry your sink after you use it. Consider keeping an extra hand towel nearby, dedicated to wiping it dry. Because the drier it is, the less bacteria will breed in the little droplets sitting around the drain. Plus if you keep disinfectant spray handy and intermittently spray your sink every couple of days, your bathroom sink will be kept in tip-top shape for your morning greeting and evening farewell.

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