Cleaning

The 30-Second Nightly Cleaning Routine I Never Skip

Besides brushing my teeth, of course.

August 18, 2021
Photo by Rocky Luten

Years ago, when doing research for an article on cleaning the kitchen, I watched a video of Melissa Maker, of Clean My Space, deep cleaning a sink, and one thing in particular that she said has stuck with me every single day since. She mentioned that once you maintain the habit of keeping your own sink clean, you’ll start to notice when sinks are dirty in other people’s homes.

This was truly enough to keep me up at night. The thought of people coming into my home and noticing anything dirty is one of my biggest fears, so ever since then, I’ve been fastidious in my sink cleaning. Until then, I’d been the type to let dishes linger for a day or two (I know, I know), and even when the dishes were done, I wouldn’t necessarily leave extra time for the sink itself. This is a surefire way to let your sink get out of hand in a hurry, and considering how much food and yuckiness ends up in the sink, it’s not a good scene.

So take it from me, a reformed sink neglector: wiping it down every night after doing the dishes is the only way to keep it sparkling clean. Luckily, once you’re in the habit, it’s an easy (almost mindless?) task that makes the whole kitchen feel cleaner by association.


My Essential Sink Scrubbing Tools

To start, let me tell you about some of my favorite supplies. Sure, a regular sponge and some baking soda would work, but these are the all-stars of the sink-cleaning world.

Scrub Daddy:

I’ve been singing the praises of Scrub Daddies for years now, but there was a time when I too, was too creeped out by the name and perma-smiling face of the sponges to use them. After giving in one day in my parents’ kitchen, I finally understood their merits: they’re very tough (they won’t ever get pilly or broken like regular dual-sided sponges), they’re pliable in hot water and firm in cold for extra scrubbing power, and they never, ever hold onto lingering odor. They’re the ultimate kitchen sponge, in my opinion.

Bar Keeper’s Friend:

I’ve hacked away at the sink with dish soap enough times to know that it never fully removes the stuck-on crud on the drain stops, and never really rids the stainless steel of its… ahem, stains. Bar Keeper’s Friend is the best product for tackling both of these tricky tasks that I’ve ever tried, and I always keep a canister under the sink for stubborn sink messes.

Dish Soap:

This one’s a given, because it’s the sink, of course, but lately I’ve been loving Dawn Pomegranate and Rose Water dish soap. It’s got the unbeatable suds-per-drop ratio of classic Dawn, but a really lovely scent. It almost, almost makes doing dishes a little treat.

Paper Towels or Sponge Cloth:

Last but not least, I’ll always need a paper towel or sponge cloth to dry the sink after washing.


My Nightly Routine:

  1. First, of course, I load up the dishwasher and hand wash all the delicate dishes, and leave them to be washed or drip dry.
  2. Once that’s done, I perform my least favorite task of all time—scooping out food bits from the drain stopper and putting them in the trash. I don’t have a garbage disposal, so any leftover food would just sit in the drain or be washed away into the abyss—not ideal.
  3. If the drain or drain stopper is particularly nasty (this will happen without regular cleanings), I sprinkle some BKF (you know the acronym now, right?) on them and let it sit for a minute or two. Then, using a damp (not soaking wet) Scrub Daddy, I go at it to remove the crustiness. If you’ve never used BKF before, you’ll be astounded by the results, I promise.
  4. Most times, though, just wet the whole sink down with the sprayer and wash it with soap and hot water. This includes (always!) the faucet, the handles, the sprayer, and the outer lip of the sink. All of these parts can build up food particles and general nastiness, so don’t skimp out.
  5. Once everything has been thoroughly cleaned, I rinse the sink down with the sprayer and wipe everything dry. You might be surprised how much lingering gunk comes off with the final wipe, too, so this is a crucial step. Plus, not only does this prevent water stains from settling in, but it also prevents water from creeping out onto other parts of the counter, and eliminates the ability for bacteria to form in pools of moisture.

And if you’re interested in a knock-down, drag-out sink deep cleaning? We’ve got you covered below.

Do you clean your sink every night after doing dishes? Weigh in below!

This post contains products independently chosen (and loved) by our editors and writers. Food52 earns an affiliate commission on qualifying purchases of the products we link to.

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When I'm not writing & editing for Home52, I'm likely to be found DIY-ing a new piece of furniture (or restoring an old one), hanging things on the wall in my apartment, or watching hours of vintage RHONY.

69 Comments

Diane K. September 30, 2021
Another lesson I learned the hard way - never put dish soap & water in a hot pan - they'll warp. sometimes I have to leave a hot pan dirty overnight, then I discovered Dawn Powerwash - spray it on the pan the next morning, let it sit a little, wipe & rinse - Wow!
 
Diane K. September 30, 2021
I do the same thing - my Mom taught us NEVER leave dirty dishes in the sink, love BKF, I do have a garbage disposal, but other kitchen scraps I put in a plastic bag (yes, I re-use them) and keep in the fridge in my garage, so my trash can isn't smelly.
 
MB September 29, 2021
Ditch your sink stopper/strainer and get a wire mesh one from amazon or a local hardware store. Keep the original under the sink in case you really need the stopper. When you clean your sink, just take the mesh strainer to the trash receptacle and whap it a few times against the inside to get all the gunk out. Periodically just stick it in the dishwasher. The mesh strainers are so much easier to clean than the original equipment.
We have a professional chef in the family and I've always been impressed with his cleaning routine at the end of the day. He keeps everything spotless so I guess I have to too.
 
Diane K. September 30, 2021
Love the mesh strainer!
 
Earlene M. September 30, 2021
Great suggestion - going to get one.
 
[email protected] September 27, 2021
Although I no longer have porcelain apron sink I still thrill at the sight of a clean sink. Preaching to the choir, I have enjoyed the deeply satisfying feeling of waking to a sparkling clean sink for years! Your right, it is like brushing my teeth, great metaphor and a great article!
 
Earlene M. September 26, 2021
My sink is a 100-year old white porcelain-over-cast iron behemoth with two drainboards. It took four strong men to install in my tiny kitchen. The porcelain is in good shape (no chips!) but over the years has lost a lot of its shine, so it picks up stains easily in the bottom. Every couple of days I spray it with a mild bleach solution after doing the dishes, and it is whiter than white. I would never go back to a stainless steel sink.
 
Shuna L. September 26, 2021
I wish I could get a porcelain sink in my apartment! Alternatively, if you don't want to use bleach - baking soda+white vinegar will get out most stains, and baking soda + peroxide is a non-toxic 'bleach solution.'
 
Jack September 26, 2021
The square sided sinks are difficult to clean. Big mistake on my part.
 
SwellKel56 September 26, 2021
The most amazing cleanser is the magic eraser...what it gets off a stainless steel sink is amazing! My husband cooks and does the dishes because he destroys the kitchen...I go in after him and clean the sink ;-)
 
Michele E. September 26, 2021
We soak the thick plastic grate that catches the food particles, in a solution of 50% bleach and 50% water. I usually mix it up in a small throw away plastic tub that chopped cilantro comes in. I let it sit over night and, in the morning, it's bright white again. Stains are all gone! I've tried, in the past, scrubbing it with Bar Keeper's Friend and IT won't even clean it like bleach does. It only has to be done when stains begin to build up again.
 
girlwithaknife September 26, 2021
While the content of the article is fine, I can’t help but think the article title is sheer clickbait. What exactly is the “30-sec cleaning routine”??
 
Kathy September 26, 2021
Who cares, it’s fun!
 
[email protected] September 26, 2021
Sink and wire grid. Great article about sink cleaning. Since I got my new sink, it is both a feature and a work horse in the kitchen. I also try to keep it shiny and clean. Spray sink and grid with detergent or Mr Kleen spray and let it sit, use Mr. Kleen white sponge to get all the food particles and then rinse and dry. Some times I fill the sink with Dawn just past the height of the wire grid and let it sit a while, then complete the cleaning. Don't forget to clean the rubber guard for the garbage disposal with a brush and antibacterial Dawn.
 
tastysweet September 26, 2021
I was just writing a comment and it disappeared. I talked about that rubber piece on the garbage grinder. Ours comes out to clean(much older model). I scrub it with a Clorox wipe in between all those groves. And inside the grinder. Worst spot in the kitchen.

Regarding the BKF, I have a complaint about the packaging. You can’t keep that paper covering on the top of it. I even called the company. It needs a reusable cover!!!
 
Shuna L. September 26, 2021
Additionally, if you want to remove bleach/toxins from your household, soaking the rubber in baking soda + boiling water + white vinegar will disinfect, de-grease and clean :)
 
Sharon R. September 26, 2021
Cleaning suggestions were so helpful. My sink has a stainless steel grid that sits on the bottom. It's great for keeping the sink from getting scratched, but what's the best way to clean it?
 
[email protected] September 26, 2021
Some times I fill the sink with Dawn and water just past the height of the wire grid and let it sit a while, then complete the cleaning front and back. Mr Kleen spray cleaner works, too!
 
Bonnie P. September 26, 2021
I place the wire grid on the top rack of my dishwasher once or twice a week and that cleans it quite well.
 
MomInMaine September 26, 2021
I bought a set similar to these (minus the white brushes). I loved it so much I immediately bought a second one "just in case".... the bristles vary from really stiff to quite soft, wider, narrow for crevices, a pusher (the bird's beak) to scrap dislodge stuff... I'm not a clean freak, but I LOVE THESE. Not affiliated in any way, just a good, versatile set of brushes that will tackle a ton of needs. https://smile.amazon.com/Cleaner-Hand-held-Cleaning-Household-Brushes/dp/B093VDHS1T/ref=sr_1_11?dchild=1&keywords=5+pieces+tile+joint+scrubber+brush&qid=1632663859&sr=8-11
 
Shuna L. September 26, 2021
These are fantastic - thank you! I'm trying to reduce my plastic purchases, so I have found metal and wood handled versions of these tiny brushes. Ahhh the deep, deep clean :)
 
Mightyqtn September 26, 2021
I also take the remaining boiling water from my tea kettle (after making my cup of tea) and rinse the sink for a super hot final rinse. Why not?! 😊
 
Lori September 26, 2021
Because if you have pvc piping, that boiling water can crack the piping.
 
Amber September 26, 2021
This is a tip I read about in Home Comforts. Cheryl Mendelson says it’s a good way to keep the drain pipes clear of gunk too.
 
Sherri H. September 26, 2021
Lori, where do you drain pasta if boiling water will crack pvc pipes?
 
Lori September 26, 2021
I use a pasta drainer in my pot when cooking pasta and then just let the water cool down before dumping it in the sink. Or if you don’t use a drainer when cooking pasta, dump the pasta and water into strainer within a big bowl. Let the water cool a little and then dump.
 
J L. September 28, 2021
I have PVC pipes and when draining pasta, hard-cooked eggs, etc., I turn on and run cold water to offset the boiling water that's being drained.
 
Melissafitz September 26, 2021
I would add that folks should check their faucet head (where the water comes out). It can get some build up and gunk on it — easy to scrub off and then I just submerge the head in clean water to rinse it off.
 
Jenny September 26, 2021
And if it gets clogged with mineral deposits, just soak in a vinegar/water solution to clean.
 
tastysweet September 26, 2021
Yes. You are so right. And in our bathroom sinks as well.
 
Helene September 26, 2021
I like a clean empty sink after dinner. I hand wash all of the dishes & air dry. I scrub my sink w/ Comet & a scrub daddy. I agree that Scrub Daddy releases bits of it scrubber as you use it. That goes for Scrub Momma too. But I like how there's no lingering odor. I'll continue to use them until my supply runs out. As for stubborn caked on food, my go to is baking soda & Dawn dishwashing soap.
 
Shuna L. September 26, 2021
In case you'd like a less toxic alternative, baking soda, dry and/or with a dash of white vinegar is a great stand in for comet :)
 
Jenny September 26, 2021

My Father had a masters degree in bacteriology and believe you me, kitchen sanitation is something I learned way early. I have a friend who unloads her dishwasher onto a FILTHY counter, and then stacks and shelves. I only consume boiling hot tea and cookies straight from the box on a paper towel.
 
Kathy September 26, 2021
I cannot be with BKF. It’s the best!
When cleaning the sink, don’t neglect the undersides of the rubber flaps in your garbage disposal. And while you’re at it, the sides of the disposal as well.
 
Lori September 26, 2021
That is why I prefer garbage disposals with removable splash guards—makes cleaning those flaps and the inside rim of the disposal so easy.
 
Kathy September 26, 2021
Oops! I meant I cannot be without Bar Keepers Friend. haha
 
tastysweet September 26, 2021
Yep n
 
tastysweet September 26, 2021
Oops, no n😬
 
Jane H. September 26, 2021
Barkeeper is the best for glass top stoves. Don't be afraid of scratching and put some power behind the toughest buildup. Also a little on paper towel and will remove marks on painted walls.
 
Ron O. September 26, 2021
I really enjoyed your article on cleaning the kitchen sink, but I am at a total loss as to what BKF stands for. Am I totally dense? Please help me!!
 
Lori September 26, 2021
Bar Keeper’s Friend. It is a cleaning solution. There is a section above about it.
 
ElleT September 26, 2021
Turn off your ad blocker and you will see the discussion of BKF and other linked info that's blocked along with all the chaotic ads on the page.
 
Lori August 27, 2021
I replaced white sink with a black composite granite sink in a remodel 5 years ago. Nothing but Dawn and a sponge after cleaning up the kitchen dishes and looks as good as new every day. No more scratches and no more stains!
 
Anne J. September 29, 2021
But not sterile ever. Get some bleach in there occasionally. I love Dawn with the rest of you but bacteria love it too.