I tried 3 different ways to clean a stainless steel sink – and this was the best for a gleaming finish

After trial and error, I can settle the debate once and for all

water running into kitchen sink
(Image credit: Future PLC)

If there's one thing we at Ideal Home love to try our hand at, it's a hack, so of course we had to get to establish what the best stainless steel cleaning hack around actually is.

Knowing how to clean a stainless steel sink properly definitely pays, as neglecting this task can leave it looking a little dull, tired, and riddled with watermarks – which admittedly, doesn't leave a great impression in your kitchen.

I tried three different cleaning hacks for cleaning a stainless steel sink, and after much trial and error, this was the method I found most effective and will be recommending to others.

White kitchen countertops with decorative jars and plants

(Image credit: Future PLC / Dan Duchars)
Headshot of Jullia Joson
Jullia Joson

Jullia is Ideal Home's Junior Writer. She is an expert at following trends and viral hacks on TikTok and Instagram. She collated the most popular hacks for cleaning a stainless steel sink and tested them all to conclude which the most effective method out of the bunch was.

3 ways to clean a stainless steel sink

These three ways to clean a stainless steel sink are all well-known hacks popularised over social media and recommended by cleaning experts to ensure a gleaming finish every single time.

1. Washing up liquid and water

Starting with the most basic and straightforward out of the three. This one is pretty self-explanatory and just consists of wetting your sink, applying a small amount of washing-up liquid onto a sponge or cloth and cleaning the surface.

Afterwards, just rinse the sink clean and dry with a soft microfibre towel. If you always need one to hand make sure you check out the Mr Siga mutlipacks- a favourite with some of our team.

white kitchen with black worktops and stainless steel sink and tap

(Image credit: Future PLC / David Giles)

To be honest, this method does do the job for the purpose of a daily wipe-down (this is what I do every day in my own kitchen). However, if your sink needs a little extra TLC, Lily Cameron, cleaning supervisor at Fantastic Services warns that this method won't work well if your sink hasn't been cleaned in a while and has some stains on it.

That's where the next methods I tried come in handy.

Ecover Lemon & Aloe Washing Up Liquid | £1.70 at Amazon

Ecover Lemon & Aloe Washing Up Liquid | £1.70 at Amazon

This is my favourite washing-up liquid, and it's a bargain in-store or on Amazon.

SPONTEX Microfibre Collection | £4.00 at Amazon

SPONTEX Microfibre Collection | £4.00 at Amazon

Any kind of microfibre cloth will do, but for the ultimate name-brand bargain, this 8-pack on Amazon is only £4 (a steal!) and you can even colour-code them for different areas in your home.

2. Lemons

Whether it's to clean a microwave, clean a wooden chopping board, or clean a dishwasher, lemons have long been a key component for any natural cleaning hack.

For this method, simply cut a lemon a half and rub it onto the surface like you would a sponge. Leave the juice to sit for a while and then rinse and dry with a microfibre cloth.

water running into kitchen sink

(Image credit: Future PLC/David Giles)

Lily from Fantastic Services confirms that the acid in the lemon helps break down mineral deposits and brighten the surface of the sink, which is ideal if you're looking to remove water spots or discolouration from the stainless steel surface.

I found this method super effective in getting rid of those pesky streak marks. Not only that, but it was also very easy to execute and good for the pocket seeing as lemons don't break the bank.

vinegar with lemons and wooden board

(Image credit: Future PLC/Tim Young)

3. Baking soda and vinegar

This is probably the strongest method out of the three, ideal for stainless steel sinks that have been neglected for a while.

Make a paste with baking soda and water and use a cloth to scrub the surface of the sink, going in circular motions over any areas that are specially stained.

Afterwards, fill a spray bottle with white vinegar and spray the surface of the sink. The baking soda will react with the vinegar, foaming up (this is my favourite part, I always love watching it happen!). Then, just rinse the sink with water and dry it with a microfibre cloth.

kitchen sink with two taps

(Image credit: Future PLC / James French)

'This is probably one of the most popular and effective DIY methods for stainless steel sink cleaning,' says Lily from Fantastic Services. 'Baking soda is abrasive enough to remove light water deposits and any stuck-on grease or food, but not abrasive enough to damage the surface.'

If you're dealing with a stubborn sink, this is definitely the method to try.

Arm & Hammer Baking Soda (Pack of 3) | £7.20 at Amazon

Arm & Hammer Baking Soda (Pack of 3) | £7.20 at Amazon

If you tend to use baking soda for a lot of cleaning jobs, it's probably worth buying them in bulk and storing them away for easy access when you run out. It'll prevent you from having to keep topping up those tiny little ones you normally buy for baking.

SPRAYZ Large 500ml Spray Bottles | £6.99 at Amazon

SPRAYZ Large 500ml Spray Bottles | £6.99 at Amazon

These spray bottles are great to have handy for any kind of cleaning task as they're reusable and you can repurpose them for other cleaning solutions you may run into.

Which cleaning hack was the most effective?

After testing all three methods, I can safely say that the baking soda and vinegar hack was the most effective by a long shot and put in the work for lifting even the most stubborn of marks. However, I think an important thing to note is how clean you need your sink to be, as each hack varies in strength level.

Despite crowning the baking soda and vinegar hack as the most effective, truthfully, I use the washing up liquid method way more on an everyday basis.

Silver sink with tap

(Image credit: Future PLC / Colin Poole)

At the end of the day, it's all dependent on multiple factors! All three I tested were great and I've since incorporated them into my day-to-day cleaning routines. They've all got a yes from me.

Cleaning the kitchen sink every day is one of the top things that people with always clean kitchens do, so best believe if I'm going to implement it into my daily routine, I want to make sure I'm doing it the most efficient way possible.

Jullia Joson
Junior Writer

Jullia Joson is a Junior Writer at Ideal Home. She's always loved all things homes and interiors, graduating with a bachelor's degree in Architectural Studies from the University of Nottingham where her love for journalism blossomed following her internship at ArchDaily. Now focused on home tech, Jullia works on writing features and explainers to help people make the most of their home appliance investments. When she isn't writing, she loves exploring the city, coffee shop hopping, and losing hours to a cosy game.