One of the things that will attract you to stainless steel sinks is their bright shine. Unfortunately, this surface doesn’t keep its shine forever.
Despite being ‘stainless,’ it can still get stained by chemicals, making it look dull and ugly. And when this happens, the common cleaning methods aren’t effective at getting rid of the stains.
Don’t give up, though! With the correct stain removal methods, you can easily remove the chemical stains and make your sink look as good as new.
In this post, we’ll teach you how to get rid of those chemical stains on a stainless steel sink and additional helpful tips on preventing these stains from forming.
How to remove chemical stains from stainless steel
Below, we’ve outlined the different methods you can employ to get rid of chemical stains on your stainless steel sink. Whether you’re dealing with light stains or your sink is heavily affected, one of the following DIY methods will help you restore your sink beauty.
IMPORTANT: Before using any of the methods below, we strongly advise you to go through the manufacturer’s manual to see whether the manufacturer recommends a specific procedure for cleaning the sink.
Method #1: Using hot water vapor
This method will work for you if you’re dealing with a few minor chemical stains that have formed recently. It essentially involves using hot water vapor as the primary stain remover.
Here are the steps to follow when using this method:
Step 1. Boil hot water in a kettle or any other suitable appliance in your kitchen. Get the kettle off the gas once the water has hit the boiling point and is at high temperatures.
Step 2. Place a paper towel or a microfiber towel over stains on the sink.
Step 3. Pour the hot over the towel and leave it for approx. 10 minutes. This will give the vapor enough time to work on the stains while allowing the water to cool down.
Step 4. Finally, use the now cooled paper towel to rub the remaining stains off your sink surface.
Be sure to repeat the above steps until you get rid of all the stains on your sink surface.
Method #2: Using baking soda and soap dish
You can also use a mixture of dish soap and baking soda to remove minor chemical stains from a stainless steel sink. Mind you, this is the stain removal method recommended by most sink manufacturers.
The good thing about this method is that you’ll be using ingredients already available in your kitchen. And these ingredients don’t harm stainless steel sinks.
Here are the steps to follow when using this method:
Step 1. Start by mixing baking soda and dish soap to make a paste.
Step 2. Soak a cleaning sponge into the paste you’ve just made above. Make sure the sponge gets fully saturated for the best cleaning results. A microfiber cloth or an old toothbrush can also work.
Step 3. Now use the sponge/cloth/toothbrush to wipe those stains gently and repeatedly. Remember to wipe along the metal grainline to prevent cleaner residue from getting trapped in the tiny sink crevices and reduce the shine of your sink.
Step 4. Repeat the above process from Step 1 to 3 until all the stains are gone.
Method #3: Ammonia and water solution
What if you’re dealing with stronger chemical stains that won’t go away with the above methods? If that’s the case for you, Ammonia will prove to be a more effective stain removal method for you.
Follow these steps to use Ammonia to remove chemical stains from stainless steel sink:
Step 1. Mix the same quantities of Ammonia and water in a container.
Step 2. Give your sink a good cleanup as you normally clean it with water.
Step 3. Now take the mixture you made in step 1 and apply it to the stubborn stains on the sink. Leave the paste to work for approx. 30 minutes.
Step 4. When the wait time is over, clean the remaining paste with the help of a paper towel
Step 5. Give the sink a thorough cleaning using clean water. If you notice some stains still lingering around, repeat this process until you get rid of all of them.
Method #4: Vinegar for chemical stains removal
So, none of the above methods seem to work for you so far? In this case, you have one more home-based technique to try—vinegar!
This is another cleaning agent readily available in your kitchen and is a good cleaning agent. It features acidic properties that enable it to strip the strongest chemical stains off your sink surface. However, it’s rated as a mild acid and won’t damage the sink surface.
Direction on how to use vinegar on stainless steel:
Step 1. Start by cleaning your sink with water as you normally do. Dry it with a clean microfiber cloth afterward.
Step 2. Now pour the vinegar onto the sink surface and ensure all the stained areas are covered.
Step 3. Leave the vinegar to settle on the stains and work its magic. The wait time should be around 15 minutes.
Step 4. Now clean the vinegar with the help of a clean towel and see if all the stains are gone.
Step 5. Apply more vinegar to the sink and repeat the process until all stains disappear.
Alternatively; Combine dish soap, baking soda, and vinegar
You can use a combination of method #2 and Method #4 to make a stronger cleaning agent for the toughest stains. This is how you employ this method:
Step 1. Mix equal quantities of soap dish and baking soda to form a paste.
Step 2. Apply this paste on the stained parts of the sink and let it settle for 5-10 minutes
Step 3. Now grab the vinegar and spray it over the paste. It will react with the paste and make it fizz. This reaction is the force behind stain removal.
Step 4. Leave the cleaning agents for a few more minutes to work on the stains. Use a dry cloth to get rid of any remaining paste and vinegar.
Step 5. Finally, use clean water to clean your sink, and all the stains should be gone. You can repeat this process if stains still show on the sink surface.
Method #5: Using a commercial cleaner
Sometimes the home-based methods above don’t cut it when getting rid of the toughest chemical stains. This is where commercial stainless steel comes in.
The cleaners usually come with instructions on how to use them. We suggest following these instructions carefully to avoid damaging or scratching your sink surface. There are multiple stainless steel cleaning agents available, so you should be able to choose the one that works for you.
Different types of stains on stainless steel sinks
Now you know how to get rid of chemical stains from your stainless sink surface. But it won’t hurt to know the various types of stains on the sin and what causes them. Below, we discuss the most common chemical stains on stainless steel sinks.
Using any acidic liquid with a pH of less than 1.0 is sure to stain and damage your stainless steel sink. This is because such a low pH translates to a strong acid. Avoid using any cleaning agent with a strong acid on your sink. That said, some sulfuric acid-based drain cleaners may qualify for stainless steel. But we still advise you to avoid using them on the sink.
Chlorine and bleach stains
Bleach and all chlorine-based products also cause staining of stainless steel sinks. They can cause the metal to rust and leave you with ugly stains.
When the bleach enters the sink surface, the multiple compounds in it will react with stainless steel, turning it to gray or dull brown. Eventfully, they leave a chemical stain on the sink, which can prove a challenge to get rid of.
However, keep in mind that short-term exposure of your sink to chlorine may not cause staining. But long-term exposure is sure to cause stains. For instance, leaving saltwater standing in your sink for prolonged periods can result in corrosion and even pitting.
Rust and iron stains
You may also be unknowingly inviting iron and rust staining whenever you rub your sink surface with steel wool. Small iron pieces stick to the surface and cause a reduction of the amount of chromium in the stainless steel surface. With less chromium, the possibility of rust forming becomes quite high.
To avoid this problem, always make sure you remove any excess dirt around your sinkhole before you clean your sink. Also, be on the lookout for any new stains forming after you have completed the cleaning process.
Hard water stains
Hard water contains minerals that can easily collect in your stainless steel sink. Calcium is one such compound found in this type of water. It deposits in the stainless steel sink and gives it a cloudy appearance. Dissolved iron in hard water can cause ugly brownish rust stains on the sink surface.
How to prevent chemical stains on stainless steel sinks
Prevention is better than cure, they say. This is no different when it comes to stainless steel sink stains. Keeping them from happening will save you from the hassle of dealing with tough stains that take a lot of effort to eliminate.
That said, we have gathered some helpful tips below to help you keep your sink stain-free and shiny at all times.
Avoid abrasive cleaners
One of the best ways to keep your stainless steel sink free of chemicals stays in by avoiding using abrasive cleaners on it. Examples include steel wool and wire cleaners. These cleaners can leave behind small pieces of metal, which will then cause rust with time.
Most homeowners use bleach and chlorine on their sinks without realizing that it is one of the causes of staining problems. We highly advise you against using all cleaning agents containing chlorine. And if you must use them, make sure you rinse out all the detergents after the cleanup. This will ensure no chlorine residue is left behind to stain the sink.
Wipe your sink properly
When wiping your stainless steel sink, we advise you to do it in the direction of the grain pattern, not against it. If you go against the pattern, you may scratch off some of the protective layers of the sink, paving the way for easy water infiltration. This causes corrosion to form much faster than when you wipe the sink in the direction of the metal grains.
Wipe any standing as fast as possible
Whenever you hand wash the dishes, we advise you to dry the sink immediately afterward. This will help get rid of any standing water. Letting the sink dry on its own gives the water more time to stay on the sink surface.
This water stands in the way of the stainless steel’s ability to produce a protective layer of chromium oxide which keeps rust from forming. This increases the chances of staining on your sink.
1. Will stainless steel rust?
Stainless steel can rust, though not as quickly as other types of steel or metals. It is armed with a chromium oxide coating that protects it from rusting. However, long-term exposure to chemicals, saltwater, mature, etc., can interfere with this protective layer and cause the material to rust. Just like stainless steel, granite sinks rust too. But, copper sinks are long-lasting and resistant to rust.
2. Does vinegar damage stainless steel?
Vinegar is a mild acid and therefore doesn’t damage stainless steel. However, we advised against leaving this cleaning agent on the sink for long as long-term exposure may hurt your sink. Wipe it off right after cleaning, and ensure you do it in the direction of the grain pattern of the metal to prevent streaking.
3. What should you not use on stainless steel?
You should not use these cleaning agents on your stainless steel sink: hard abrasives, steel wool scouring powders, bleak and other chlorine-based products, oven cleaners, hard water, and glass cleaners containing Ammonia.
4. How do you remove acid stains from a stainless steel sink?
You can remove acid stains with the help of dish soap and baking soda paste. Apply this paste on the stains and leave it for approx. 30 minutes to dissolve the stains. Clean the sink afterward, and the stains should disappear. If the baking soda doesn’t prove effective, try Ammonia as it’s more effective for tough stains.
5. Does baking soda harm stainless steel?
Absolutely not! Baking soda is an earth-friendly cleaning agent that contains no harmful compounds. It is also mildly abrasive and will help scrub away any hard water stains, stuck-on grease, etc., without leaving scratches behind.
The once sleek-looking stainless steel sink surface can quickly get dull and unsightly if it gets attacked by chemical stains. It worsens if you don’t get rid of these stains on time, and they keep accumulating.
But knowing how to get rid of them correctly is the key to removing them as soon as they appear and keeping your sink looking shiny.
Now that we’ve shared with you the top tricks on removing all types of chemical stains, we have no doubt that you’ll have an easy time working on your sink to restore its beauty. A simple baking soda and dish soap solution will usually get rid of minor stains. Ammonia and vinegar will prove more effective for severe stains. If none of the home-based methods seems to work, you can get a commercial stainless steel cleaner.
Follow our additional tips on preventing chemical stains from attacking your stainless steel sink to keep your sink looking good at all times.