3 Ways To Clean Stainless Steel Sink Hard Water Stains

Water stains can be a real nuisance, and they seem to show up the most on stainless steel sinks. In this article, we'll discuss how to clean stainless steel hard water stains with natural ingredients. First, we'll cover what causes these unsightly blemishes, and then we'll give you a few solutions for removing them as you clean stainless steel sink hard water stains, naturally.

Where do hard water stains come from?

Stainless steel is a popular material for kitchen appliances, sinks, and fixtures because it resists rust and corrosion. However, stainless steel can be stained by hard water minerals if the water is allowed to sit on the surface of the sink for an extended period of time. The minerals and calcium deposits in hard water can form a film on the stainless steel that may become difficult to remove.

The presence of hard water minerals can cause stainless steel appliances to become stained over time. The minerals attach to the surface of the stainless steel and leave a white film or streaks. One popular way to prevent this is by using a water softener to remove the minerals from the water. However, not everyone has the ability to install or afford to maintain a water softener.

The best way to prevent these hard water spots is to regularly wipe down the sitting water during your quick clean routines and properly maintain your sink.

How To Clean Stainless Steel Sink Hard Water Stains:

There are many commercial cleaners and professional cleaning services available to help you clean your stainless steel appliances and sinks, however, while they may be convenient to try, I like to think of them as something to use as a last resort.

The good news is you don't need to use any harsh chemicals to clean your stainless steel appliances. Cleaning your stainless steel surface may only require something as simple as using natural cleaning agents like citrus-infused distilled vinegar and a clean cloth or paper towel. For more stubborn stains, you'll need to use more abrasive cleaners like baking soda or salt paste.

Vinegar and Water As An Effective DIY Stainless Steel Cleaner

The distilled white vinegar and water mixture is a DIY household cleaning spray that can be used to clean a variety of surfaces in your home. The white distilled vinegar works really well as a natural disinfectant and cleaner, while the water helps to spread the vinegar evenly and dilute it enough so that it's safe to use on most surfaces.

To make your own cleaning spray, mix one-part vinegar with two parts of warm water in a spray bottle. This is easy to make ahead and convenient to keep on hand as a nontoxic cleaner you can use throughout your home.

To use your vinegar cleaner, simply spray the solution onto the stainless steel and let it sit for 10 minutes. Wipe the area clean with a soft cloth.

I love having a bottle of undiluted vinegar set up in advance where a few citrus peels are soaked in it for a week or two in a mason jar. This way when you use vinegar for cleaning, it smells bright and fresh. Lemon is a great peel to add because the lemon peel oil provides some extra cleaning power.

mason jars for diy sugar scrub.

Use Baking Soda and Water To Clean Stubborn Hard Water Stains

Baking soda and water can be mixed to create a natural cleaner. When baking soda is combined with water it forms a weak alkaline solution that may bubble a little, causing it to foam from the carbon dioxide produced during the chemical reaction.

Simply mix a cup of baking soda with just enough water to make a paste. Apply the solution onto your sink or around your fixtures and let it sit for 10 minutes. Wipe the area clean with a dry cloth.

Baking soda is a great stainless steel sink cleaner, makes an excellent oven cleaner, and also acts as a degreaser (especially if you add some lemon oil to it).

Combine Lemon Juice and Salt For A More Abrasive Scrub To Clean Stainless Steel Sink Hard Water Stains

When mixed together, lemon and salt create a powerful cleansing duo. The lemon's citric acid combined with salt's granular texture helps to break down tough mineral deposits. This combination is perfect for removing any hard mineral-rich water buildup. Just be careful that you're not scrubbing with too much pressure to avoid causing deep scratches.

To make a lemon salt scrub cleaner, simply mix one-half cup of lemon juice with one tablespoon of salt. This is a good use for those cheap salts you don't usually want to cook with. Often, I'll use lemon oil instead of juice.

When using a lemon salt scrub, I do recommend using an old toothbrush is perfect to use with a lemon salt scrub instead of a wet sponge or steel wool. Simply swirl the mix in the direction of the stainless steel grain. Then rinse with warm water and wipe with a dry cloth.

It may be necessary to repeat this process multiple times to eliminate all of the stains and build-up. If the stains seem to be permanent, it may be necessary to replace the sink with a new one. While stainless steel appliances may be covered up with a new stainless cover (like these) that hide old scratched-up and stained steel, I have not found anything like it for sinks.

Tips for Maintaining your stainless-steel sink surface

There are a few key things to keep in mind when trying to maintain your stainless steel kitchen sink. First, make sure to use a soft, damp cloth to clean your sink; using a harsh or abrasive material can damage the stainless steel finish. Additionally, avoid using bleach, ammonia, or other harmful chemicals when cleaning, as these can also damage the surface.

Stainless steel is a type of metal that is used in various applications because it is resistant to corrosion. In order to maintain the stainless steel surfaces in your home or office, you should: 

  • Clean the surface with a damp cloth and a little dish soap during your regular cleaning routine
  • Rinse the surface with clean water and dry it with a soft lint-free cloth on a daily basis.
  • Apply a thin coat of stainless steel polish to the surface and buff it with a lint-free cloth.

DIY Stainless Steel Polish Recipe

One maintenance recommendation is to routinely polish your stainless steel appliance or sink. To make an effective polish, you'll need 3 ingredients:

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, removing hard water stains from stainless steel is a fairly easy process. With the right tools and a little bit of effort, the stains can be removed quickly. The key is to use the right equipment and technique to remove the stain in a timely fashion without completely damaging the sink's surface.

For more tips on nontoxic cleaning, check out our Healthy Home online course.

*This post originally appeared on Gracefully Abundant and was republished with permission.

Stainless Steel Sink Hard Water Stains