How to Clean a Bathroom Sink Properly

A bathroom sink can accumulate a lot of nasty slime over time. Toothpaste blobs, shampoo musk, soap scums, and makeup spills are just some examples of goop that can mess your sink. Since we use these bathroom sinks frequently, there could be ways to ensure you keep your sink clean and smelling nice always. In most cases, a simple wipe-down with soapy water does the trick. However, you may need to deep-clean the sink now and then to get rid of the messy goop that builds up over time. Deep cleaning also gets rid of odors, bacteria, and unpleasant stains present on your sink and countertop. How you approach the cleaning process depends on the kind of sink you have. Whether you are looking to do a deep spring cleaning on your bathroom or just a regular weekly cleaning, we look at the best ways to clean your bathroom sink properly, get rid of odors and keep everything looking pristine at all times.

Vinegar, baking soda and Dawn dish soap placed on a dirty white porcelain sink.

Cleaning the sink bowl

The choice of products to use in cleaning your bathroom sink will be informed by how dirty your sink is. If it is not too dirty, regular dish soap with a little bit of baking soda (in equal parts) will work perfectly. Put the mixture onto a double-sided sponge and then rub it over the sink and countertop. Let it sit for a minute before flipping the sponge to the rough side and start scrubbing gently. You can also use a microfiber cloth for this. When you leave the mixture on the sink for about 5-10 minutes, it helps break down that scummy buildup on the inside of the sink.

Dish soap and baking soda poured into the basin of a white sink.

Cleaning the drain and overflow

A cleaning toothbrush does justice to the drain overflow and the drain cover (stopper). A lot of nasty dirt, slime, and sludge can build up over time because of the little nooks and crannies inside the pop-up stopper that traps all kinds of dirt (soap, hair, shampoo residue). You can use the same cleaning solution you used to clean the basin of the sink and give everything a good scrub. Ensure you clean this part regularly because it also helps to get rid of odors.

The overflow is one area most people never think about cleaning. If your sink fills up, the overflow drains out the water to prevent it from overflowing into the floor. You can clean this part with a toothbrush or you can wrap a finger with a cloth and then swirl it inside to bring out the dirt.

Hand holding a tooth brush cleaning the overflow valve of a brushed nickel faucet.

Cleaning the faucet and faucet handles

The faucet and its handles can also get slimy. Constant touching with dirty hands, soapy hands, toothpaste, and other products may cause a slime buildup. The faucet can also experience mineral buildup inside the pipes. Such kind of buildup could be caused by the water flowing through the taps, especially if the water is untreated. When you look underneath the sink where your faucet connects to the countertop (or in the aerator), you may see a chalky-white crusty substance. This could be a buildup of calcium and limescale from the water. Sometimes limescale can be pinkish or even red-brown (like rust). 

You can use specialty products to clean this crust or you can use vinegar. Put vinegar in a plastic bag and tie it tightly with an elastic band. Wrap it around the faucet’s opening and let it sit overnight. In the morning, scrub it off with a cleaning toothbrush and rinse it with clean water. In some cases, you may have to unscrew the aerator (if you have the tools) and give it a good cleaning before replacing it. 

To keep your faucet shiny, put a little bit of vinegar on a piece of cloth and rub it on the faucet. The acidity of vinegar kills germs and breaks down lime deposits and soap scums before evaporating quickly and leaving everything looking clean and shiny. Try not to use anything abrasive when cleaning the faucet or handles. Use baking soda and soap to clean the faucets. You can use a brush to remove the dirt at the intersection of the faucet and the countertop. When water has been sitting at the bottom of your faucet for some time, you may get slimy buildup as well. Soak vinegar on a paper towel, let it sink for a while and then scrub it off.

Rinsing and buffing the sink

Do not be in a hurry to rinse every section of your sink as you clean. Leave everything as it is (Messy looking and all) and then get to rinsing once you have covered every bit of the system. Rinse everything properly to get rid of the messy soapy cleaning substances you used before buffing with a clean towel or absorbent clothing.

Buffing a brushed nickel faucet with a towel and vinegar.

Routine maintenance

After regular bathroom use, take a few moments to clean up your bathroom sink. Put everything (your toothpaste, toothbrush, and makeup stuff) in its proper place. Make this a daily habit. Keeping the countertop uncluttered means you will be able to clean them faster. Do a quick wipe-down every day, even when things do not look dirty. This is to keep toothpaste spills and makeup spills from building up. It will keep the sink clean for longer and you won’t have to deep-clean more often. Keep wipes and cleaning products in an easy-to-reach place (such as your vanity cabinet).

When you do not want to deep-clean your bathroom sink, let the hot water do the work for you. Fill the sink with a few cups of hot water and add your favorite bathroom cleaner or a cup of vinegar. Rub the mixture around the faucet and use a cloth dipped into the solution to wipe the countertops. Clean the small items on your countertop (such as soap trays or toothpaste cups) using this solution as well. 

Disinfecting the sink

After you have cleaned and dried the sink, disinfect it using a disinfectant spray. Wet the surface thoroughly and leave everything for about 10 minutes before wiping the solution away. 

Unclogging sinks

If your sink is clogged, you may have a hard time keeping the bathroom sink clean. You should unclog the drainage system first before starting the cleaning process. 

An after shot of a bathroom sink that has been cleaned properly.

Time needed: 30 minutes

How to Clean a Sink Properly

  1. Clear off the sink

    Remove all the containers of soap, toothpaste and lotion as well as your toothbrush and any other accessories.

  2. Gather supplies

    You will need a sponge, baking soda, dish soap, paper towel or microfiber cloth, vinegar and disinfectant spray.

  3. Sprinkle baking soda and dish soap on the sink surface

    Use the sponge to scrub off any globs of toothpaste and water marks. Rinse with water.

  4. Use vinegar to remove mineral deposits

    Take a rag or paper towel and soak in vinegar. Place it on the parts of the faucet that are stained with hardened calcium deposits. Remove the rag after 15 minutes or so and use an old toothbrush to scrub.

  5. Clean around the drain with a toothbrush

    Clean around the drain and overflow valve with an old toothbrush.

  6. Buff the faucet and sink area

    Use a cloth and a small amount of vinegar to buff around the faucet and sink to remove water marks and finger prints.


How often should you clean a bathroom sink?

You should clean your bathroom sink at least once per week but it is a good practice to give it a quick wipe down daily. The bathroom should be deep cleaned every month.

How to do you whiten a white sink again?

Spray hydrogen peroxide on the sink surface and leave it over night. Rinse in the morning and the sink will be bright white again.

Can you put baking soda and vinegar down your bathroom sink?

Yes, it is safe to put vinegar and baking soda down your sink and using those ingredients will help to naturally deodorize your drain. The reaction will also help to remove small clogs in the pipes.

Is it safe to pour boiling water down a bathroom sink?

No. Pouring boiling water down a sink is dangerous because not only could you burn yourself but you may also damage the pipes with the boiling water. You can use hot water but don’t use boiling.

Adrienne Carrie Hubbard
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