How to Clean a Farmhouse Sink (fireclay, copper, & steel)

Image via Kraus on Amazon

When my wife and I renovated our kitchen, we bought a Shaw farmhouse sink that was a clean, soft white color. It looked great, but for awhile we were kind of nervous to even touch it. Cleaning it seemed especially tricky, since the white fireclay material quickly got dirty, but seemed too delicate to clean with something like steel wool.

In this article, I'm going to share how to clean a farmhouse sink made of fireclay. 

I'll also cover copper and stainless steel approaches, since we've had experience with those types of sinks as well.

Keep in mind, these are just approaches that have worked for us, and aren't necessarily the only way to keep a clean sink. If you're in the market for something new, checkout our best farmhouse sink roundup.

Cleaning a Fireclay Sink​​

While fireclay is extremely durable and resistant to staining, it's not quite as resistant to scratching. Steel wool can and will leave scratches, especially if you use it to try and get out those dull, stubborn cloudy stains from things like tomato sauce or coffee grounds.

Here's what I've found to work:

  • Clean the sink regularly (at least once a day) without any dishes in it, preferably at the end of the day
  • Use a soft sponge with warm water and Dawn or some kind of dish soap
  • Use baking soda or lemon for more stubborn spots
  • A washcloth with warm water can also be effective
Baking Soda

In my experience, less is more when it comes to cleaning a fireclay sink. Even just the washcloth plus warm water method should be enough to get rid of most stains and smudges. I would recommend avoiding really strong cleaners or bleach, in favor of the more natural solutions like baking soda.

Cleaning a Copper Farmhouse Sink

My mother-in-law has a copper farmhouse sink, which looks fantastic, and is similarly easy to clean. For copper, you should take special care of highly acidic foods like ketchup or juice, as these can tarnish the copper finish. 

Otherwise, I'd recommend the following:

  • Sponge or cloth, dish soap and warm water
  • Towel dry the sink as often as possible

Towel drying the copper will help prevent hard water stains, which can be particularly noticeable in copper sinks. I'd recommend avoiding steel wool and hard brushes. You also shouldn't be using ammonia or any kind of copper polish.

Just stick to good ol' fashion soap, water, and drying towel.

How to Clean Stainless Steel Farmhouse Sinks

Once again, it's not recommended to use anything too harsh. Vinegar, baking soda, and even baby oil can work well to clean a stainless steel think, though dish soap, warm water, and a soft wash cloth are probably all you need on a regular basis.

Keeping a Sink Clean and Dry

We've found that the most difficult aspect of cleaning a sink is keeping it clean and drying it regularly. In fact, I cleaned our sink out last night, dried it with a towel, and found myself having to go back and re-use it several more times within 30 minutes.

Keeping food and dishes out of the sink and keeping it dry is what ultimately keeps it clean and preserves its aesthetic appeal, but practically this is really hard to do.

I'd recommend giving your farmhouse sink the most thorough cleaning at the end of the day, going through this checklist:

  1. Make sure all dishes are out of the sink (don't leave them to "soak")
  2. Make sure all food has been cleaned out 
  3. Make sure there are no damp wash clothes or towels in or hanging off of the sink
  4. Clean the sink with one of the aforementioned methods
  5. Dry the sink with a towel or cloth

Conclusion

It's hard to keep this up all the time, but try to run through it as much as possible. It will make your sink last longer and will help to maintain its "new" look. Consistency with these methods is better than trying to play catch up with bleach or harsher cleaning chemicals that could tarnish the sink in the process.

If you have questions, feel free to drop a line in the comments section below. You can also checkout some of the additional sink-related content linked here:

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