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How to Clean Kitchen Sinks,
Drains, and Garbage Disposals

November 2, 2023

You may clean your kitchen like a pro, but like many, you may not give your kitchen sink, garbage disposal, and drain the cleaning love they need. After all, we wash things in the sink and rinse it out after, so the natural assumption could be that we’re washing the sink as we go, right? Wrong.

Kitchen sinks get residue buildup from washing dirty dishes, pots, and pans. Grease, food particles, and other debris from your plates and utensils create a dirty film on your sink—and a germ-infested breeding ground for bacteria and mold. Yuck!

It’s time to learn how to clean a kitchen sink drain, the sink, and garbage disposal the right way. It’s easy to keep a kitchen sink clean with only a little work and the help of a few natural household staples like baking soda and vinegar. It’s also important—germs, mold, and other contaminants are bad for your kitchen and bad for your family.

The Importance of Cleaning Your Kitchen Sink, Drain, and Garbage Disposal

How dirty is that kitchen sink? The average kitchen sink is full of germs, grime, and more fecal matter than a flushed toilet! Yuck. That means your kitchen sink could be the dirtiest place in your home—but before you run off in a panic to grab your bleach, hear us out. Learning how to clean a kitchen sink drain, the sink, and garbage disposal is critical for a healthy, happy kitchen, but you don’t need harsh chemicals to tackle the job.

The level of germs and filth in a kitchen sink is something to be concerned about, but getting rid of all that nastiness isn’t super tough. You can clean most kitchen sinks with baking soda, distilled white vinegar, and dish soap to scrub away all the germs and residue. The key is to clean your kitchen sink and drain frequently enough to prevent slimy buildup, bacteria, and odors.

But what about the garbage disposal? Isn’t it also full of bacteria, odors, and icky stuff? It is—and that’s why you’ll also learn how to clean a garbage disposal and keep it fresh right here. We’ll start with cleaning out those nasty kitchen drains, followed by cleaning the garbage disposal, and, finally, how to clean your specific type of sink.

How to Clean Kitchen Sink Drains

Just because you’ve gotten your kitchen sink clean and fresh doesn’t mean you’ve eliminated the bacteria and buildup. Down there in your kitchen drain are many unpleasant things, including germs and odors. That’s because all the grease, food, and other stuff you wash off your dishes and cookware have to go somewhere.

When you know how to clean your kitchen sink drains the right way, you can reduce the amount of buildup that causes odors and germs. The best way to clean a kitchen sink drain is with baking soda, distilled white vinegar, a lemon, and hot water.

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Here’s how you do it:

  • Boil two quarts of water.
  • Using oven mitts, slowly pour the boiling water down the drain.
  • Pour a cup of baking soda down the drain.
  • Rinse the sink and drain thoroughly with hot water from the sink.
  • For extra odor-fighting, pour lemon juice or distilled white vinegar down the drain.
  • After 30 minutes, rinse the sink and drain.

You may need a little more firepower if you’re learning how to clean a kitchen sink drain that hasn’t been cleaned in a while. Consider using a bio-friendly drain cleaner to break down the buildup in the drain. The natural enzymes in bio-friendly cleaners help remove residue from grease, soap, and food debris without using toxic chemicals. Many of these cleaners can take up to 24 hours to get the job done, but the payoff is fresh, smooth-running drains and less odor and bacteria.

How to Clean a Garbage Disposal

If you have a garbage disposal, you must clean it regularly, just like the kitchen sink and drain. Even with a clean drain, grease, grime, and food debris can cause lingering odors and germs to accumulate on the blades, baffle, and other parts of a garbage disposal. To get your kitchen sink truly clean, it’s time to learn how to clean a garbage disposal and keep it that way.

Follow these steps to learn the best way to clean a garbage disposal:

  • Turn off the power to prevent the disposal from turning on while cleaning it.
  • As an extra precaution, unplug the disposal if possible.
  • Use dish soap and an abrasive sponge to scrub the underside and folds of the baffle.
  • Rinse the sink and spray any debris down the drain.
  • Use your scrub sponge and dish soap to scrub around the top part of the grinding chamber, rinsing frequently.
  • Pour baking soda into the garbage disposal and let it sit for five minutes to absorb lingering odors.
  • Rinse the sink, drain, and garbage disposal thoroughly.

A clean garbage disposal also means clearer drain pipes, so cleaning it regularly reduces the chance of nasty buildup. Cleaning your garbage disposal about once a week should do the job, but if you smell lingering odors, you know it’s time for a cleaning.

How to Clean a Stainless Steel Sink

You only need baking soda, distilled white vinegar, and a nylon scrub brush to clean a stainless steel sink. Baking soda is a natural cleaner you can use all over the house—and it’s safe for stainless steel. Distilled white vinegar is also a natural cleaner, as well as a disinfectant, and is safe to use on stainless steel sinks and many surfaces and fabrics.

So grab your natural cleaners, a soft nylon brush, and an old toothbrush, and let’s get to work making that stainless steel shine.

  • Rinse out the sink with hot water and some dish soap.
  • Sprinkle baking soda all over the sink.
  • Use a soft scrub brush to rub the baking soda in the grain’s direction.
  • Use the toothbrush to get around the drain hole and other tight spots.
  • Spray distilled white vinegar all over the sink.
  • Once the bubbling and fizzing stops, rinse the sink with hot water.
  • Dry the entire sink with a microfiber cloth.
  • Use a dry microfiber cloth to buff the stainless steel.

The mild abrasiveness of baking soda and the acidity of vinegar combine to cut through greasy residue, disinfect, and dissolve calcium deposits that cause water spots.

How to Clean a Porcelain Sink

Nothing beats the vintage look and elegance of porcelain sinks, but it takes a delicate touch to keep them beautiful. Antique and colored porcelain should be cleaned using mild, non-abrasive cleaners and cleaning tools to prevent scratching. Skip the bleach and steel wool and opt for a microfiber cloth and dish soap instead.

  • Remove stains using a damp microfiber cloth and baking soda.
  • Scrub in a circular motion and then rinse.
  • Add hydrogen peroxide to the mix for tough stains.
  • Dampen a microfiber cloth and add a few drops of liquid dish soap.
  • Lather up your cleaning solution and scrub the sink vigorously.
  • Rinse the sink with hot water and dry it.

After you clean your sink, dry it with a soft cloth and use lemon oil to bring the finish to a lustrous shine. To keep your porcelain sink clean and fresh, rinse it after each use and remove food products that can stain immediately.

How to Clean Copper Sinks

A copper kitchen sink is durable, long-lasting, and a beautiful addition to modern decors. They can be a bit pricey and require routine maintenance, but the stunning looks and natural antimicrobial properties make up for it. The color of a copper sink changes from light to dark to form a patina that protects the surface. Here’s how to keep that protective patina and keep your copper sink clean.

  • Remove surface stains with a microfiber cloth, warm water, and baking soda.
  • Clean stubborn stains and darker areas with a solution of one part white vinegar and one part water.
  • Wash the sink with dish soap and a soft cloth and rinse it out with hot water.
  • Dry the sink thoroughly.

To restore the shine of dull copper, mix flour and salt mixed with enough water to create a paste to use as a polish. Use a microfiber cloth to polish the sink, then rinse and dry it. To keep the copper sparkling, make it a daily routine to remove food debris, rinse the sink, then dry it.

How to Clean a Granite Kitchen Sink

Granite is a popular material for kitchens and is used for countertops, backsplashes, and sinks to add a naturally elegant finish. A granite kitchen sink is durable and beautiful and the non-porous composition minimizes the presence of bacteria. To keep granite looking its best, avoid harsh cleaners and abrasive scrubbers and go natural with baking soda and vinegar.

  • Dampen the sink and pour baking soda all over the surface.
  • Remove stains by scrubbing in a circular motion with a soft cloth.
  • Pour a half-cup of white vinegar over the baking soda layer and use a nylon scrub brush to clean the sink.
  • Rinse off the cleaning solution with hot water and dry the granite.

Because natural granite can look dull after a deep cleaning, pour mineral oil onto a soft cloth and buff the sink to a shine. The oil will rejuvenate the granite and protect it between cleanings. To maintain the fresh look, rinse and dry the sink after each use.

Now that you know how to clean a kitchen sink drain, the garbage disposal, and your sink, don’t stop there. We have many housekeeping and cleaning resources full of pro tips and time-saving strategies to help you keep your home cleaner and healthier. Whether you use our professional cleaning guides or popular residential cleaning services, we want to make every home a cleaner, healthier place to live. Learn more about flexible, affordable cleaning and disinfecting when you get your free estimate online.

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