Removing stains from white enamel sink

Aug. 11, 2013: This is the most-clicked post on the blog, which is terrific. Happy white sinks, everybody! Here’s the short version:

THE METHOD: Coat the stained part of your white sink with a layer of dishwasher paste — the thick gloopy stuff you put into the dishwashing machine, not the liquid soap you use for hand-washing dishes. Let it sit for a while (start with a short time span, perhaps). Then wash it off. Hopefully your sink’s now back to white!

CAUTION: Dishwasher paste can etch surfaces. Test it in a small area, or start out by only using it for a minute or less.

SUCCESS STORIES: Victory has been reported over ordinary grunge, blueberry stains, tea stains and other marks. Most of us had tried bleach and other cleaners with no luck. Here’s one success story with photos. Other surfaces it’s worked on: Formica countertops, the Corian-type stuff my shower is molded out of, stone-type beverage coasters that tea had slopped on, my white-enamel saucepan.

WHY IT WORKS: I have no idea. The dishwasher paste smells like bleach, but I’d already tried bleaching the stains with no luck. I’m guessing the cleaning agents in the paste are just super-mega-strong. (See CAUTION above)



Accidental discovery: Our kitchen has a white enamel (or “porcelain,” as I incorrectly call it for reasons unknown) sink, and despite our efforts with bleach to remove stains from tea, blueberries, etc., gradually the sink has been getting yellower and yellower.  Especially around the drain.  Ech.

Recently I dumped out some old dishwasher soap that I’d been informed had gotten too gloopy to use in the washer. Planning to recycle the bottles, I let the soap drain into the sink, where it made a layer about a half-inch thick. It sat there a couple hours while I did other tasks. When I came to rinse it out:  White sinks!  (It didn’t remove scorchmarks, but it clobbered everything else.)

I filled the sink with water, dumped in the remaining liquid and left it for a few hours, stirring occasionally. This whitened up the sides, too.

So try coating your white enamel sink with a layer of dishwasher detergent and letting it sit awhile.  I’m sure you don’t have to use a whole bottle.  But regular hand-washing dish soap has never done my sinks much good, and this does. No scrubbing, either!

24 thoughts on “Removing stains from white enamel sink

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  1. You deserve a ton of credit! This IS the solution to getting your sink back from the dead! We used Palmolive Gel and followed your instructions.

    Thank you!

    1. Thank you thank you for leaving a note! That really brightens my day. 🙂 I’m so glad it worked for you. It also just worked on a Formica countertop, though that was a new stain which probably helped. Seriously, I’m so pleased to get your note, and glad for the report from the field, too!

      1. so excited to try this for both ancient “was white” sink and old, old formica! Moving and didnt want to lose my security deposit over this! I tried the denture cleaner tabs, which seemed to work on the tub, but it didnt touch the sink. If this works, I may not even move after all!

  2. OMG! I had tried everything! Thank you so much. I was just about to remove the sink and buy a stainless steel one. I loved having a white sink but it had become disgusting despite all my best efforts. Such a simple solution!

    My husband said if bleach didnt work no way will this but it did!!

    Thank you Sue!

    1. This makes me happy – thank you for writing! I did think there must be bleach in the detergent, but yep, when we tried straight bleach we had no luck either. Maybe I’ll take a closer look at what’s in this stuff. Very glad your sink looks better and isn’t driving you nuts (I’m the same way). Yay! 🙂

  3. Un-FREAKING-believable !!!!! All I have is a generic version of dishwashing liquid. It worked instantaneously. I only used about 4 drops (approx) and spread the rest around. Wouldn’t you know it, within seconds, you would never had known there was blueberry stains.

    Thank you so much for having this info. I will never EVER use bleach again.

    1. yeeha! that is delightful! Thank you so much for posting to tell me. Hardly anything makes me feel better than helping people, so this makes my day. Hooray, Internet 🙂

  4. Thank you so much! My husband and I have tried everything! We were skeptical because we thought bleach was the cure. Wow were we wrong or what! I am amazed and so grateful!!

    1. I had faith in bleach also! Someday I gotta go ask a chemist or the manufacturer what’s in this stuff.So grateful you took the time to post; it makes me smile and also, we are starting to accumulate some field data here!

  5. Can you tell me what kind of gloopy paste you used successfully, please!
    I use powder in mine, and have no idea what this is.

    1. Specifically, what I usually have on hand is a liquid dishwasher detergent like this. I don’t know if the magic resides in however they formulate the liquid (I really need to call their flack and ask) but I bet it’s at least worth a try making a paste from your powder with a little water.

      Careful though, everybody! We’ve had a report that this method etched a granite counter. Whatever’s in these detergents is strong. I recommend the faithful “test in an inconspicuous area” method.

  6. So – Somehow a small hot pink sticky note with my name in black ink made it underneath my large popcorn bowl, face down on my nice white sink. I had run water several times not knowing that the sticky note was there. Fast forward 48 hours, I lift the bowl up after washing it and I see it. This hot pink square with my name PERFECTLY LEGIBLE in the middle of it. Magic Eraser – nothing. Soak in bleach – nope. Soft Scrub – Not a thing. Oxiclean – did ok after setting for an hour but totally still visiable. Cascade Lemon Gel – GONE IN MINUTES!!! TY TY TY!

  7. I tried the special cleanser for flat top stoves. It has no abrasives. Cerama Bryte and an old toothbrush removed everything!

  8. Boy howdy, Sue…you saved me having to either change out our kitchen sink or re-enamel the thing. Years of coffee, tea, and berry stains had made our enameled cast iron sink a real dingy mess. Kinda splotchy brown with some purple spots and others much darker brown.

    I just squeezed out about 1/3 of the big bottle of Palmolive gel dishwashing goop. Left it a couple of hours, then rinsed it down the drain. DANG! Like magic…white as new!

  9. Thank you so much for your helpful tips! I was looking for a solution to the blueberry stains on my sink too. I had Barkeeper’s Friend cleansing powder on hand, so I used that to see if it would work first. Barkeeper’s Friend got rid of the stains fast too! Just wanted to let you know on another method that works too! Have a great day. 🙂

    1. That’s awesome! I will get some – others have asked what might work on non-white sinks, and maybe that’s the answer! Thank you, Brenda 😊😊

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