Have you ever tried to clean a white cast-iron sink? It can be tricky. You need to know what you’re doing before you even attempt it.
Ask me how I know. Because I spent a great deal of money on a beautiful cast-iron sink, and then scratched it out of ignorance.
To save you the same trouble, I'll share my experience of how to properly clean a cast-iron sink.
They make gorgeous additions to your kitchen, but if correctly cleaned. Here’s how to clean your cast-iron sink:
1. My Mistake
When we purchased our second home, it was a fixer-upper (which I’m putting mildly.) The place was a mess. It had no floors in it, and the water heater had leaked for such a long time, it eventually caused the floor to rot and fell through it.
But the house was cheap, and we knew we could fix it up. It took us five years, many hours of labor, more tears than I care to mention, but we eventually fixed the house up with little to no debt.
However, when we first moved in, I needed something to give me hope. Something I could look at every day and know one day my little house of troubles would become the gorgeous showplace I knew it could be.
One of the first things we did was rip out the old, dirty stainless steel sink and purchase a pretty, white cast-iron sink.
Not only was it durable, but it shined when the sun hit it through the kitchen window. It was the glimmer of hope I needed to hang on through the remodel of those five years.
However, I didn’t realize cast-iron sinks could be scratched. I sprinkled powdered bleach in the sink while cleaning one Saturday and scrubbed to remove the stains which were developing in the bottom of the sink.
Well, you can imagine my horror when I saw my pretty, white sink was now horribly scratched. I didn’t cry (though I wanted to.)
Instead, I decided to take better care of my sink, and find a better way to keep it shiny white and prevent any further harm.
2. Fill the Sink
My new method of cleaning a cast-iron sink consists of placing the stopper in the sink, turning the hot water to where it’s at its maximum for heat, and filling it about halfway with very hot water.
From there, I add a small splash of bleach. Remember to wear an apron or some protective outer layer to protect your clothing when cleaning.
Once you have the hot water and bleach going in the sink, wait. I would make the sink my first stop when cleaning the house.
When everything was marinating in the sink, I’d clean the rest of the house, and come back to finish cleaning the sink last.
Whether you want to clean another area, run an errand, or watch a favorite television show, allow the warm water and bleach to rest in the sink for an hour or two.
3. Drain the Sink
After an hour or more has passed, allow the sink to drain. Once empty, use a dry towel to wipe the sink down.
At this point, you should notice a drastic difference in the color of your sink from where it started out as dingy white. It should now sparkle and look almost brand new.
When the sink is dried, you’re ready for the final step of the cleaning day process.
4. Add a Little Elbow Grease
Once the sink has been soaked in warm water, bleached, and thoroughly dried it’s time to take out a few of the remaining tough spots.
I like to use an all-purpose bleach cleaner to spray in the sink. I also use this opportunity to spray the faucet and the edge of the sink as well.
From there, I use a dry towel to wipe the bleach cleaner from the sink, faucet, and perimeter of the sink. You don’t have to add a ton of pressure but do be sure to wipe everything out fully.
The sink may not look much different after this point, except for the faucet and the perimeter of the sink. They should look cleaner.
However, the bleach cleaner continues to whiten after being wiped out of the sink. It shouldn’t surprise you to see your sink become a whiter shade within the hour after cleaning.
5. Regular Maintenance
This may all sound like plenty of steps just to keep a sink clean.
I admit a white cast iron sink is a great deal of work. However, it’s incredibly sturdy. You’re more likely to break a dish in the sink before you break the sink (speaking from experience.)
Therefore, in my opinion, it’s worth the extra work to keep it looking good. If you do daily maintenance to the sink, it shouldn’t be nearly as large of a hassle to clean on cleaning day.
I keep my white cast-iron sink beautiful with a small day to day chore which makes all the difference. I’ll use my trusty all-purpose bleach cleaner and spray it into my white sink each day while I’m doing my housework.
I allow the mixture to sit in the sink for a few minutes while I wipe down our bathroom. When I return, I wipe the sink out and run hot water over the entire inside of the sink too.
By doing this on a daily basis, I’m able to keep my sink looking good and also helping to stop stain build-up from occurring in between cleaning days. It takes all of five minutes a day to save extra elbow grease a few times a month.
6. Cast Iron Sink Cleaner
If you’re worried about using bleach products in your home, you can use a cast iron sink cleaner. Kohler makes one specifically for the sinks they manufacture.
It seems easy enough to use because you rub it on the inside of the sink to help remove dirt and grime which can get trapped in the sink.
Be sure to read the instructions before using cast iron cleaners because they seem to contain powerful ingredients which can irritate your skin and eyes if mishandled.
In my experience, using the bleach trick is more cost effective, but it’s up to you. Remember, we only share our experiences with our items. We don’t claim any liability for your experience when cleaning your sink.
Be sure to go with the cleaning process you’re most comfortable with.
7. Don’t Leave Items in the Sink
A few further tips on keeping your cast iron sink looking great and easier to clean is to make sure you don’t leave items in your sink.
If you have a habit of leaving dishes in your sink overnight, break it before you install your cast iron sink. Leaving dishes out overnight can draw roaches, which you don’t want.
However, it can also be a source of scuff marks and stains in your sink. Also, don’t leave tea bags, coffee, or soft drinks in your sink either.
These items are prone for causing stains on a cast iron sink. Be sure you rinse out your sink after any liquid is poured down the drain and be sure to keep the sink as empty as possible.
8. Apply a Paste to Stains
Finally, when you do have unsightly stains which it seems no amount of all-purpose cleaner, bleach, or even cast-iron sink cleaner will remove, try making a homemade paste.
If you make a paste of baking soda and water, it should do the trick. Smear the paste over the stains in the sink and allow it to sit for a few minutes.
Remove the paste and see if the stain has diminished. Reapply the paste as needed until the stain is entirely gone.
These tips will help you to clean your cast-iron sink when needed, keep it looking great between cleanings, and also help to deter the sink getting too dirty in the first place. The primary key is to use cleaners which aren’t abrasive to avoid my biggest mistake which was scratching the sink.
With this advice, your sink will stay shiny and be a bright spot in your kitchen for years to come. With the proper care, it should make it with no problems.