How to Remove Chemical Stains From Stainless Steel Sink (3 Method Guide)

Last Updated On June 11, 2024

Updated on February 15, 2022



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how to remove chemical stains from stainless steel sink

Do you notice visible chemical stains on your stainless steel sink? Many stainless steel sinks can’t withstand strong harsh chemical cleaners and also become vulnerable to stains from mineral buildup and rust. 

However, many people don’t learn about the limitations of stainless steel until it’s too late. Luckily, you may be able to remove chemical stains from stainless steel. 

In this PlumbingNav guide, we will cover:

  • What you need to know about chemical stains in stainless steel
  • Supplies you’ll need to remove chemical stains from stainless steel
  • How to remove chemical stains from stainless steel safely

What's In This Guide?

      What You Need To Know About Chemical Stains In Stainless Steel

      You may have numerous stainless steel appliances throughout your house. A stainless steel sink may contribute to an attractive, cohesive interior design. In fact, they are the most common sinks today.

      Stainless steel is typically considered a rather heavy-duty material for your kitchen sink, since most stainless steel sinks withstand corrosion and mineral buildup from hard water… to a point. 

      While not susceptible to uniform corrosion that affects the entire material, stainless steel may experience localized pitting corrosion.  

      Most homeowners also find stainless steel sinks are easy to clean and maintain. However, you need to use the correct materials to clean stainless steel without damaging it. 

      Before we go into how to clean a stainless steel sink, let’s talk about what not to use when cleaning your stainless steel sink to prevent chemical stains in the first place. 

      Do not use the following cleaning supplies when cleaning your stainless steel sink as they can stain or scratch the material:

      • Chlorine Bleach 
      • Chlorine Based Products
      • Ammonia (often found in glass cleaner, such as Windex)
      • Scouring powder
      • Steel wool
      did you know How to Remove Chemical Stains From Stainless Steel Sink

      Tips For Removing Stains From Your Stainless Steel Sink

      Understand DIfferent Chemical Stains on Your Stainless Steel

      The main stains you will find on your stainless steel material are hard water stains, acidic stains, and rust stains. 

      Most of the time, the stains will appear as a cloudy haze. This cloudy appearance develops as a result of residue from hard water or acidic cleaners remaining on the stainless steel. The residue develops when you don’t wash the material off of the stainless steel properly. 

      Removing hard water stains is easier than chemical stains caused by acid. 

      Rust stains as a result of corrosion appear darker in color, and the process can deteriorate the material if you don’t catch the issue quickly enough. At a certain point, you will need to replace the sink completely. You can reduce the likelihood of corrosion by not using hotter water or higher water pressure than necessary. 

      Cleaning a rust stain in the sink is be a bit different than cleaning a hard water stain or chemical acid stain. For some tips specifically regarding rust stains and corrosion, please see the following video:

      Check Your Other Stainless Steel Products

      While you’re on a mission to remove stains from stainless steel, look at your stainless steel appliance, stainless steel cookware, or stainless steel hardware to see if it can also use the same treatment. 

      It will be easier to remove stains from all of your stainless steel products all at once. 

      Supplies You’ll Need to Remove Chemical Stains From Stainless Steel

      Microfiber Cloths

      A microfiber cloth will become your best friend when cleaning your stainless steel sink since the soft cloth won’t create any new scratches during the stain removal process. These are a great option.

      Make sure you also have plenty of individual cloths available and keep some to the side specifically for drying your stainless steel. 

      Liquid Dish Soap

      Believe it or not, the liquid dish soap you keep by your kitchen sink regularly may be the primary tool you use to clean your sink. 

      Use a dish soap known for its gentle properties. 

      Baking Soda

      You will discover a wide range of cleaning uses of baking soda thanks to the innocuous properties of the chemical compound (NaHCO₃.)

      Baking soda also acts as a natural, chemical-free alternative to many of the cleaners with harsh chemicals that cause acid stains in the first place. 

      White Vinegar/Ammonia

      White vinegar reacts with baking soda in a very powerful way that won’t damage most of your plumbing but still provides an effective clean. However, that’s not necessarily the solution you want to remove chemicals from your stainless steel. 

      You may still use vinegar, though, for harsh stains, as it has powerful qualities on its own. 

      If you don’t have vinegar handy, you may also use ammonia.

      When using vinegar and ammonia, make sure that you only put the products on your stainless steel material for too long. You also need to rinse the chemicals off your stainless steel surface thoroughly. 

      Dealing with a drain clog, and want a natural cleaning solution? See this post on using enzyme-based products.

      How To Remove Chemical Stains From Stainless Steel (3 Methods)

      Method One: Flush Stains With Boiling Water (Minor Stains)

      Boil water in a kettle or a pot, and pour the boiling water directly onto the stain. 

      Carefully place a microfiber cloth over the stain and then pour more boiling water over the microfiber cloth. When not dangerously hot, press down on the paper towel. 

      After twenty minutes, vigorously rub the stain with a clean cloth.

      Method Two: Clean With Baking Soda and Liquid Soap (Medium Staines)

      Create a mixture of one part baking soda and one part liquid soap until it becomes a completely combined paste. You can add water if necessary to create the perfect consistency. 

      Use a toothbrush to apply the paste to the stain and scrub with the toothbrush to clean. 

      After you thoroughly clean the stain, rinse the area thoroughly with water. 

      Pick up leftover cleaner and water with a clean microfiber cloth. 

      Method Three: Clean With Vinegar or Ammonia (Stubborn Stains)

      While not something you want to do often, sometimes, you need to use the chemicals you don’t want to use on stainless steel to clean it. 

      Create an equal mixture of ammonia and water or an equal mixture of white vinegar and water until it creates a paste. 

      Apply to the stain in your stain and scrub with a microfiber cloth. 

      How to Safely Clean a Stainless Steel Sink

      Now, let’s discuss the best plan moving forward for maintaining your stainless steel appliances, including tough stains on your sink.

      So, what can you use on stainless steel? 

      You want to use a microfiber cloth that won’t scratch the material. 

      What do you put on the microfiber cloths? 

      Of course, you can use a designated stainless steel cleaner such as this one, which won’t cause stains. These are specifically designed for cleaning stainless steel, such as a mild phosphorous acid-based cleaner. 

      You can also use white vinegar, but it may not be best as a long-term cleaning solution. 

      Want to keep your stainless steel kitchen sink clean without creating stains? Read about the best sink protectors on the market today. 

      FAQs For How to Remove Chemical Stains From Stainless Steel

      Can you ruin a stainless steel sink?

      Unfortunately, yes, you can absolutely ruin a stainless steel sink. 

      Stainless steel deteriorates faster when you have hard water or high risk of corrosion thanks to excessive water temperatures and excessive water pressure. 

      You can also ruin a stainless steel stink by leaving chemicals on the surface for too long. 

      Can you clean acid stains from stainless steel sink?

      To clean acid stains from a stainless steel sink, try one of the three methods depending on the severity of the stains:

      • Method One: Flush with water (mild stains)
      • Method Two: Baking soda and dish soap (moderate stains)
      • Method Three: Vinegar or Ammonia (heavy stains)

      How do you remove haze from a stainless steel sink?

      Haze in your stainless steel generally develops from hard water.

      Use the standard method of cleaning stainless steel: a mixture of baking soda and liquid soap.

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      About Plumbing Navigator

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      We write about “all things plumbing,” helping you navigate common questions, repairs, and the best plumbing products on the market.

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