The Best Way to Clean a Kitchen Sink

Jessica Tull

Five simple steps to a clean kitchen sink.

It gets covered in splattered sauce, greasy messes, coffee grinds, and other miscellaneous food particles on a daily basis—yet you probably barely clean it. I’m talking about your kitchen sink, and though you might do your dishes frequently, how often are you cleaning the sink itself?

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Spoiler alert: the answer should be every day. That’s right, you should be cleaning your kitchen sink as often as you are washing your dishes.

You might think that the amount of water and dish soap that passes through your kitchen sink would be enough to rinse it clean, but in reality, sinks are breeding grounds for bacteria. And considering the amount of dirty dishes, food particles, and other germs that regularly end up in a kitchen sink on any given day, it’s likely one of the dirtier surfaces in our homes.

The sink should be treated with the same care as other kitchen appliances—but with even higher priority because it’s used more frequently. Just like you might wipe down the outside of your refrigerator so that it shines or clean the inside of your microwave to remove the food splatters, you should give the same attention to your kitchen sink. It’s probably the most used tool in your kitchen, because it’s used whether or not you’re cooking—for some, it’s the first accessible sink when they walk through the door, making it the go-to for disinfecting their hands when they come in from outside.

Sink cleaning 101

Before I get into my cleaning routine, here are some general tips.

Do what works best for your sink.

One of the most common questions I get around this topic is what people should use for their stainless steel or porcelain sinks. The cleaning routine I’ve outlined is simple and gentle enough for all kitchen sink materials, but there are certain things to consider when dealing with different types of sinks.

  • Don’t use coarse scrubbers on stainless steel sinks to avoid scratches
  • Acidic and salty foods could damage the finish on a stainless steel sink—avoid letting them sit in the sink for too long whenever possible
  • Porcelain sinks and white sinks are susceptible to stains from things like coffee and wine—this is where using baking soda is especially effective

Don’t forget about the attachments and accessories.

Anything that comes in contact with the sink is fair game for a good scrubbing. Whether it’s hard to reach spaces like the sink handle or faucet, or if you have sink add-ons, like a hanging sponge holder or detergent dispenser, you might as well clean those too, while you’re at it! Faucets and handles can be cleaned with a sponge and the soapy mixture of water and Dawn Original Dishwashing Liquid. The spots you notice are lime buildup from your water and can be removed by adding a touch of vinegar to the soapy mixture.

Rinse off the dishes before placing them in the sink.

To keep the sink clean, make sure to rinse dishes before placing them in the sink or load the dishwasher throughout the day so that the dishes don’t pile up into an overwhelming mess. You will thank yourself later! And check out these tips for how to best wash the dishes.

Make it a habit, not a huge time commitment.

While I recommend repeating this kitchen sink cleaning process every day, it needs to be convenient and efficient for you. Carve out a few minutes at the end of each day to make sure the kitchen sink is clean, but don’t stress or spend too much time on it, especially since the mess is going to happen all over again tomorrow!

Got a garbage disposal? Add that to the cleaning list!

A shiny, empty sink is nice but it’s only truly clean if it smells fresh. Don’t get me started on the smell that comes out of garbage disposal! It’s a hotbed for bacteria and requires some routine maintenance just like anything else in our homes. If it’s not cleaned, the garbage disposal will start letting off an odor caused by built-up bits of food waste and gunk that didn’t make it all the way down to the pipe grinding chamber. For those with garbage disposals, check out these 7 simple steps to keeping them clean. But back to sink cleaning.

5 Simple Steps to a Cleaner Sink


Wash away and remove any leftover food bits

First things first, clear the sink out to leave room for it to be washed. It’s of course ideal to keep food particles out of your sink as much as possible by being thorough when you discard your leftovers in the trash after eating and before putting the dishes into the sink. But every now and then we have to reach into the drain to fish out some runaway crumbs. Remove any food scraps, clear the drain cover of any food particles, and clear out any coffee mugs, dishes, or utensils. Removing food waste from the sink is key in preventing a drain clog and avoiding any unwanted odors from building up over time.


Mix dish soap with water and start scrubbing

I typically clean my sink using a mixture of water with the same Dawn Original Dishwashing Liquid that I use to hand wash my dishes. Using this soapy solution with a scrub brush or sponge, you should be able to get any gross food residue off the sink. Scrub the entire surface of the sink to remove stains, leftover food, and other residue. Some people like coating the sink with baking soda, scrubbing off stains, and rinsing with warm water. If you have the time, it can be very helpful in lifting stains off the surface.


Rinse the sink down with water

Give the sink another quick rinse to wash down any remaining visible crumbs and make sure everything you’ve scrubbed off so far goes down the drain.


Give your sink some shine with Mr. Clean Magic Eraser

I love this tool to easily wipe away any remaining dirt, food residue, or dish soap that’s stuck to the bottom or sides of the sink. It further sanitizes while making the sink look extra shiny and clean.


Rinse with water then dry with a cloth

One more rinse will ensure you got to everything you needed to while cleaning, plus washed away any of the materials you used to clean. Although the sink is guaranteed to get wet again soon, quickly drying it with a cloth can help it to look shinier and help prevent bacteria from building up.

Article by Jessica Tull

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