How To Clean and Disinfect a Stainless Steel Sink

updated Dec 17, 2019
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(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

Here’s the thing about your stainless steel sink: It doesn’t seem like the kind of place bacteria would like to grow in (especially if you’re cleaning it with soap and water on a regular basis). But bacteria is sneaky and can grow pretty much anywhere. Which is why it’s a good idea to disinfect your sink every once in a while. Here’s how to do it.

(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

A Note on Bleach

In this How To, we recommend using bleach to disinfect your sink. That’s because bleach is a highly effective disinfectant that eliminates mold, bacteria, and viruses. That said, bleach can be dangerous if it’s used incorrectly. Here are a few watch-outs to make sure you’re using bleach safely.

  • Clean the surface with soap and water before using bleach to disinfect. Bleach is a disinfectant, not a cleaner, so you’ll want to make sure you’re starting with a clean surface.
  • Do not overuse bleach. A little goes a long way! We’re talking about a capful (or about a tablespoon) per gallon of water or a ratio of about 1:50.
  • Do not mix with other cleaners. The biggest no-no with bleach is not to mix it with other cleaners, like vinegar, ammonia, or rubbing alcohol. The chemical reaction will create toxic fumes.
  • Use cold water, not hot water. Hot water actually decomposes the active ingredient in bleach, so make sure to use cold water when diluting it.
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Start with an empty the sink: It seems obvious, but if you’re going to clean your sink, it should be empty of all the things: No dishes, no food, nothing. (Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

How To Clean and Disinfect a Stainless Steel Sink

What You’ll Need

  • Dish soap
  • Sponge
  • Bleach
  • Rubber gloves
  • White vinegar
  • Clean, dry microfiber cloth or dishtowel


  1. Start with an empty sink: It seems obvious, but if you’re going to clean your sink, it should be empty of all the things. No dishes, no food, nothing.
  2. Clean the sink with dish soap and warm water: Using dish soap and warm water is your first line of defense and will do a very good job of getting most of the work done. You can use a sponge or microfiber, but do not use a metallic cleaning pad, as it will scratch the stainless steel!
  3. Fill the sink with water and add bleach: Stop the drain, fill your sink with water, and add about a capful of bleach per gallon of water. Let it sit for 5 minutes.
  4. Wipe down the faucet: Meanwhile, dip your sponge into the bleach solution and use it to wipe down the faucet.
  5. Drain the sink and wipe it down: Drain the sink, use a damp sponge to give it a quick wipe-down, and let it air dry.
  6. Polish the sink with vinegar: Once your sink is completely dry, use a diluted vinegar solution (half vinegar and half water) and a clean, dry microfiber cloth or dishtowel to polish your sink.


  • You can use rubber gloves if you want, although they’re not necessary. The diluted bleach solution is strong enough to get the job done, but not so potent that you need to worry about getting it on your skin.
  • If you’re anti-bleach, try vinegar or hydrogen peroxide instead.
  • Finally, you can use flour — yes flour! — to polish your sink.
(Image credit: The Kitchn)