You’re Probably Forgetting to Clean This One (Filthy) Part of Your Kitchen

published Apr 4, 2023
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Woman washing organic carrots at kitchen sink
Credit: Thomas Barwick/Getty Images

One thing to know about me is that I need to go to sleep with a clean kitchen every night. It helps me feel like I tied a bow on the day — whatever kind of day it was — and it also helps me start the next day off on the right foot. A key component of our kitchen shut-down routine? A thorough sink-cleaning

Not too long ago, however, during one of my nightly cleanings, I noticed that one part of my sink was noticeably filthy: the flange that tops the hole to the garbage disposal. I hadn’t noticed that it was dirty because when it’s wet (read: most of the time I’m at the sink), it looks perfectly clean. However, when I saw the flange when it was dry, I saw a brown, scuzzy film on it. Ew!

Obviously, I was disgusted and pulled out my Bar Keepers Friend (my mom’s secret to getting the sink sparkling clean) on the spot. I scrubbed the flange with a nylon scrubbing pad, the same way I deep-clean the sink. Maybe it was dirty because I neglected this component when I did my daily sink maintenance — but even after scrubbing with the nylon pad, my efforts were to no avail. As soon as the flange dried, that nasty film was still visible. I had to take more drastic measures. 

I tugged the flange gently out of the opening to the disposal, and voilà! This simple step alone made cleaning it far less awkward because I could easily reach every part of it, but now I could see that the flange needed more than another good scrubbing. I filled a bowl with hot water, then added about a tablespoon of bleach to the water and set the flange in to soak. 

After about 15 minutes, I took the flange out of the bleach solution and rinsed it thoroughly. Once I was sure I wouldn’t splatter bleach on myself, I scrubbed it again with a nylon cleaning brush. The outcome was promising: It looked especially black and shiny. I placed the flange back in the opening of the sink. When I checked on it later after it had dried, I was thrilled to find that it still looked completely clean. Now this long-overlooked task has become part of my monthly kitchen deep-cleaning routine and I know my entire sink is clean. 

No matter how often or how hard we clean it, the sink is one of the absolute dirtiest places in the home. At the same time, because of all the food prep revolving around the sink, it’s imperative that it be kept as sanitary as possible. I didn’t want the flange to be a contaminated part of an otherwise clean sink space, and I didn’t want water splashing on the flange to spread bacteria from the flange around the sink or, worse, onto the lettuce I was washing for our salad. That flange had to be addressed, and I’m so glad I did it.