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Remove Stains with Pantry Staples

May 25, 2024

Remove Stains with Pantry Staples

Rescuing My Grimy Granite Sink

From the moment we set foot in the 1917 colonial home in Florence, Alabama, I knew it was the perfect home for us. Except I had a problem with one thing: the kitchen sink. It’s a minor detail, for sure — but as someone who’s constantly in the kitchen (and the chief dish washer, I might add), having a sink that was exceptionally functional and also pretty was important to me.

The sink itself was filthy, scratched and covered in dark stains that had settled into the subtle “X” crease of our undermount. How on earth could the previous owners have lived with this? I wondered. Though we weren’t doing any big renovations prior to moving in last September, the one thing on my list was a new sink.

We started looking around for sinks and got totally overwhelmed. Simply searching “undermount kitchen sinks” on Lowes.com yields more than 4,000 results. Instead of sifting through way too many options without much clue as to what we needed, I thought I’d at least try to clean the current sink to see if it was salvageable. Truth be told, I didn’t think it was — but if I put a little effort into it, I could at least say I’d attempted to save it.

Trying the Pantry Staple Approach

First, I started with baking soda and water, then moved to baking soda and vinegar, using a rough scrubbing pad that wouldn’t scratch. I wanted to start gentle, and without chemicals, to avoid damaging the material, which I discovered after looking under the sink was something called Silgranit — a patented granite composite made by Blanco. I checked out Blanco’s website and learned that they recommend baking soda and water to remove scuff marks, but the gunk in our sink wasn’t going anywhere with this combo.

Next, I broke out a Magic Eraser, and also recommended by Blanco. It broke down the eraser but not the stains. A bottle of granite and stone cleaner I’d picked up in a massive Target cleaning product haul was ineffective, too.

It was time to move onto something heavier. Desperate stains call for desperate measures, which in this case was bleach. I carefully poured a little bleach around the rectangular sink and let it sit for about 30 minutes.

To my great surprise, the spots where the bleach had been were lighter! The sink was beginning to look white again, though it still needed a little work. Blanco’s website said a mixture of bleach and water could be used to lighten food stains on Silgranit sinks — and to clean with a little dish detergent afterward. Following this method definitely improved the look of the sink, but it still wasn’t sparkling.

The Cleaning Superstar: Bon Ami

In our last place, we’d had a stainless kitchen sink, and I relied heavily on Bar Keepers Friend powder to keep it shiny. But after reading the back of the canister, it seemed like it was going to be too abrasive for the composite material.

Then I eyed my can of Bon Ami, which my Southern in-laws had introduced me to when we lived with them for a few months while searching for a house during the pandemic. I sprinkled it all over the sink and let it sit for about 20 minutes, then came back armed with a fresh non-scratch scour pad. I started making little circles with it in a corner of the sink at first to ensure it wasn’t going to harm the material. To my great surprise, it was working! The final stains were coming off — and the sink was actually beginning to sparkle. After a few more minutes of work, I stepped back to admire my work. I’d managed to not only salvage our sink, but leave it looking nearly brand new.

Now, it’s all about maintenance. The Silgranit sink does scuff pretty easily when I set a stainless pan or pot in it, and if I rinse off a dish from lasagna night, I can count on having to repeat a lighter version of the Bon Ami routine to get rid of tomato sauce stains. I’m glad we have a faucet with a retractable spray head, as I rely on that constantly to rinse out the sink after every use to prevent further staining.

Lessons Learned: Sink Material Matters

If you’re thinking of swapping out an old sink because it looks dingy beyond repair, give it one last whirl before heading to Lowes. Here’s what to try, based on your sink material:

Sink Material Cleaning Recommendations
Porcelain Start with just dishwashing liquid, then try a paste of baking soda and water. Avoid bleach and abrasive cleaners.
Stainless Steel You can use a mildly abrasive cleaner like Bar Keepers Friend, but do so sparingly to avoid scratches.
Copper Stick to a pH neutral dish soap and a soft cloth. Avoid anything acidic that can damage the copper.
Enameled Cast Iron Watered-down bleach can help with stains, but avoid abrasives and heavy scrubbing.
Granite Composite You can use vinegar, baking soda, and even watered-down bleach for tough stains, like I did with my Silgranit sink.

Though these sinks are usually sealed, they require quite decent maintenance to keep them in good shape, as they can stain and streak rather easily (as I’ve learned!). Avoid any abrasive cleaners and never let acidic foods sit on the sink’s surface. MaidPro recommends applying a dab of mineral oil every so often to protect against water stains. Granite composite (like my Silgranit sink) is slightly more durable and can handle cleaners such as vinegar and baking soda, as well as watered-down bleach for tough stains.

So before you toss that old sink, give it one more try with some pantry staples. You might be surprised at how good as new you can make it look! And if you’re in the market for a new sink, be sure to do your research on the different materials and their cleaning requirements. After all, a sparkling, functional sink is the heart of any kitchen.

If you’re in the Nottingham, UK area and need professional cleaning services for your home or business, be sure to check out Adam Cleaning. Their team of experts can help restore your surfaces to their former glory, no matter the material.

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