A stainless steel kitchen sink requires minimal maintenance, but the maintenance which is done is important. In order to keep the sink's durability and long life span, it is important to know exactly what stainless steel is. Steel is an iron based alloy, meaning it has been combined with other metals in order to increase its strength. In the case of stainless steel, chromium has been added to the steel to create a highly corrosion resistant metal. After the corrosion resistance, nickel is added to allow the stainless steel to be buffed to a high luster. Maintaining the different metals within the stainless steel is the secret to keeping the sink not only beautiful, but durable for many years.
Step 1 - Clean the Sink
After a quick rinse, fill the sink 1/4 full with a 50/50 solution of bleach and water. Allow the solution to sit for 30 minutes. Any longer and the bleach may begin to corrode the metals. Drain the bleach water and thoroughly rinse the sink. Be sure to clean the walls down as the water drains out. Chloride residue is the number one corrosive substance to the interior chromium of stainless steel, so no residue should be left.
Step 2 - Baking Soda
Apply baking soda liberally to the sink's interior. Buff the sink by scrubbing the baking soda with an SOS or ScotchBrite pad. Always move with the grain of the stainless steel. The baking soda will buffer the harsh abrasive quality of the scouring pad, while the pad will remove any scratches from the stainless steel. This combination works with the nickel plating to remove any micro-scratches which cause the light to refract, making the appearance dull. Thoroughly rinse all cleaner off the sink, ensuring no residue remains.
Step 3 - Window Cleaner
Most all window cleaners have a degreasing property. By applying the cleaner to the sink any finger print smudges or lingering greasy residue from foods will be removed. The second property of window cleaner is the ability for it to dry quickly, resulting in streak-free shine. Wipe the window cleaner off with a soft towel. If lint becomes an issue, use paper towels.
Step 4 - Stainless Steel Polish
Stainless steel polishes can be found at most any auto parts store or also purchased on the Internet. Bar Keeper's Friend is a non-auto polish which is designed to be used around foods in a bar or restaurant. The job of the stainless steel polish is to give a wax-style coating to the surface, insuring the luster will last. The compound fills in any scratches or marks which could have come about from buffing, allowing the light to really shine off the sink.
Step 5 - Keep It Dry
The number one reason for a stainless steel sink to begin to look dull is due to water marks or spotting from not keeping the surface dry. Have a clean dry towel whose sole job is to wipe out the sink after use.