How to Remove Chemical Stains from Stainless Steel Sink

Stainless steel sink discoloration is one of the main causes of chemical stains. But how do you clean tough chemical stains from stainless steel sinks?

Well, for most chemical stains, you can easily clean them using a mixture of baking soda and water. Unfortunately, this method may not work for all types of stains. Because you cannot compare a calcium and rust stain to a hydrochloric or sulfuric acid stain. The latter might be harder to remove than the former.

Don’t be panicked! There are a few things to get the stains out.

I recommend cleaning the stain using a pour-over method after trying boiling water. After that, wash the stain with bleach solution. Then wipe the sink surface with a degreaser.

In this guide, I’ll share a step-by-step guide on how to clean different types of chemical stains.

How to Remove Chemical Stains from a Stainless Steel Sink

4 Ways to Remove Chemical Stains From Stainless Steel Sink

With the right products, you can easily clean nearly all types of chemical stains from your stainless-steel sink. As different chemicals may require different methods of removal, we are explaining some below-

Hot Water and Paper Towel

First, get a kettle with hot water and a paper towel. Then, run down some hot water on your sink and position your paper towel over the stain.

Next, spill some more hot water onto the towel and leave it for 5 to 10 minutes. Lastly, use a dry paper towel to rub the stains off, and then rinse off your sink with clean water.

Solution of Liquid Dish Soap and Baking Soda

If all the stains don’t come off with the previous method, you will have to prepare a mixture of baking soda solution.

Simply mix baking soda and liquid dish soap in equal measures until you have a smooth paste.

Then, using a nylon scrubber or an old toothbrush, apply the paste to the stain and gently scrub it off.

If you are satisfied with the results, get some warm water and rinse off the paste. After that, use a paper towel to wipe the surface of your sink.

Vinegar Solution

Alternatively, you can spray undiluted vinegar on the stains. And after 5 to 10 minutes, use a soft cloth or paper towel to rub the chemical stain. Lastly, rinse your sink and dry it off using a cloth towel.

Ammonia and Water Paste

 If you don’t have vinegar at your disposal, you can mix ammonia and water in equal portions. Then, apply the paste to all the stained areas of your stainless-steel sink.

After 15 minutes, scrub the stains using a wet towel and rinse off the sink with clean water.

How to Clean Hydrochloric Or Sulfuric Acid Stains From Stainless Steel Sink

Exposing your stainless steel sink to hydrochloric or sulfuric acids causes the surface to corrode.

Here is a step-by-step guide to help you get rid of the acid stains.

Step 1: Clean the stained surface with water

To begin with, wear protective gloves for added protection against irritating chemicals. Then, rinse the acid stains with plain water. You can use a spray bottle if the area is vertical.

Step 2: Prepare water and baking soda paste

Now, take equal amounts of water and baking soda and mix them in a bowl. You should end up with a fine paste.

However, if the stained area is not smooth, you can dilute the paste with more water. This way, it can easily penetrate the cracks.

Step 3: Apply the paste

Using a clean cloth or paper towel, sprinkle baking soda on the stained surface of your sink. Then, rub the stain off using a soft cloth.

Step 4: Use ammonia solution

If there is no change as far as the color of the stain is concerned, you can use an ammonia solution. Simply mix equal portions of ammonia with water and then apply the solution to the acid stains.

Step 5: Rinse off your sink

Once you have removed the stains, clean your sink thoroughly with just water. Then, use a soft cloth to wipe off any remaining chemicals. After that, dry your sink using a paper towel or a soft cloth.

How to Clean Bleach Stains From Stainless Steel Sink

Step 1: Apply more bleach

The easiest way to get rid of the bleach stains is to clean the rest of your stainless-steel sink with bleach. First, dilute your bleach, and then clean the sink until you have a uniform color.

Step 2: Get stainless steel polish

Buy a stainless-steel polish or cleaner from your local department or home improvement store. Then, apply the polish to the stained area according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Step 3: Scrub the stained surface

After applying the polish, use a scrubbing pad and scour the stained area of your stainless-steel sink. The pad should be made of slightly abrasive materials. And while doing the scrubbing, you should ensure the surface stays moist.

Step 4: Apply more polish

If you can still spot the bleach stain, simply use more stainless-steel polish. And using a soft cloth, rub off the stain.

Once you are done, rinse off your sink with a lot of water to get rid of the cleaning chemicals. Then, wipe the surface with a dry soft towel.

How To Get Rid Of Calcium And Rust Stains From Stainless Steel Sink

While stainless steel is a highly rust-resistant material, your sink might still experience rust stains.

Following are tips on how to remove the rust and calcium stains from your stainless-steel sink.

Step 1: Spritz some white vinegar

First off, clean your sink and then pour or spritz a little undiluted white vinegar on the calcium and rust stains.

Leave the vinegar on the stains for at least 5 minutes and wipe it away using a damp cloth. After that, dry the surface with a paper towel.

Step 2: Use baking soda

If you fail to succeed in removing all the rust stains using vinegar, you could sprinkle baking soda. But before applying the baking soda, clean your sink thoroughly to dampen the surface.

Then, coat the entire stained surface with a layer of baking soda and let it sit for 30 minutes to one hour.

Alternatively, you can mix baking soda with water in equal amounts. After that, apply the paste to the rust stains.

Step 3: Scrub off the rust

Get a soft bristle brush or an old toothbrush to remove the calcium and rust stains. Then, gently scrub the stains away in the direction of the grain until all the rust is gone.

Step 4: Rinse your sink

Finally, turn on your water faucet and rinse the entire sink thoroughly. You need to wash away any mixture of baking soda residue. After that, get a paper towel and wipe your sink dry.

How Do You Remove Discoloration From Stainless Steel Sink

Exposing your stainless-steel sink to chemicals such as chlorine bleach and harsh acids can lead to discoloration. Fortunately, it’s possible to get rid of the discoloration. Here is how to go about it.

Step 1: Get a bleach-free cleaner

From your local department store, you can get a bleach-free commercial household alkaline cleaner. Next, spray the cleaner on the discolored surface of your sink, following the manufacturer’s instructions.

Step 2: Scrub the sink

Get a microfiber cloth and dampen it with warm water. Then, scrub off the sink to remove the rust discoloration. After that, rinse your sink with warm water to wash away any remaining cleaner residue.

Step 3: Use white vinegar

If there is still more discoloration even after using a commercial cleaner, you could use white vinegar on the stains. Simply, apply your vinegar on a scouring pad and scrub the discolored surface gently.

Alternatively, you could use a solution of baking soda and water if you don’t have the vinegar. You just mix the two in equal amounts and apply the mixture of baking soda to the discolored sections of your sink.

Step 4: Rinse away the vinegar or baking soda

Get another clean microfiber cloth. Then, dip it in warm water and use it to wipe your entire sink. You need to wipe away the vinegar or baking soda thoroughly.

Lastly, pat the sink dry using a paper towel. You may also apply some polish to restore the sink’s original shine.

How to Prevent Chemical Stains On Stainless Steel Sinks

While it is easy to remove most chemical stains, preventing the stains from occurring in the first place can be beneficial. So, here are some sink care tips to help you prevent chemical staining.

Avoid abrasive cleaners

You must never use standard abrasive cleaning products to polish a stainless steel sink. These cleaners tend to discolor and even stain your sink.

Use bleach-free products

Bleach can easily stain your stainless-steel sink. So, you must avoid using any product containing bleach to clean your sink. But if your sink comes into contact with bleach, you should clean it immediately with lots of water.

Use the right cleaning tools

If cleaning or removing stains from your stainless steel, you must use the right tools. In other words, you should avoid using tools like steel wool or wire cleaning brushes. Instead, use a soft cloth or a microfiber cloth.

Keep away from chlorine products

When your stainless-steel sink is exposed to chlorine for an extended period, it can lead to staining. Unfortunately, chlorine is quite common in most detergents and soaps. So, what you can do is always clean your sink after using these products.

Filter hard water

Hard water can cause chemical stains on your stainless steel. This is because the water contains mineral chemicals and calcium.

Therefore, if you live in an area with access to only hard water, you should filter the water before use. You want to get rid of these stains so you won’t have to deal with staining.


Stainless steel sinks are prone to different types of stains. So, before cleaning, you first have to determine what type of stain it is. This is because some stains require different methods to remove.

For instance, you can easily remove light chemical stains using just a kettle of hot water and a paper towel. However, to remove hydrochloric acid stains, you might have to use a mixture of baking soda followed by ammonia.

Meanwhile, if removing bleach stains, simply use a stainless steel polish.

I hope, now you’ll be able to remove any types of chemical stains from the stainless steel sink.

Lisa Burks

Hi, I'm Lisa Burks, founder of the Sink Formula blog, and plumber of 5 years experience.

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