How to Keep Kitchen Sinks and Sponges Clean

Are you frustrated with your kitchen sink? Does it seem less than clean? Kitchen sinks and sponges can be Achilles heel of an otherwise clean kitchen. Read on!

Kitchen Sink Cleaning

Are you frustrated with your kitchen sink? Does it seem less than clean—kind of smelly sometimes? I am amazed at how odiferous and grimy people’s kitchen sinks are compared to the rest of their otherwise clean homes.

I think many people are confused about kitchen sink cleaning and how to keep sponges and drains clean. Donna Smallin says it straight in her book Cleaning Plain and Simple,

“Here’s an unpleasant thought:  According to Charles P. Gerba, a University of Arizona professor, there are more germs in your kitchen sink than on your toilet seat.”(p. 99)

Also according to Professor Gerba,

We found that the most germ-laden object in your home is actually your kitchen sponge or your dish rag” (Sandbeck p. 70)

Keep reading to find out how to keep the kitchen sink nice and clean all the time. If you can succeed in this objective the rest of your kitchen and even your whole house will benefit. After all, many activities revolve around or include the kitchen sink, not just food related activities. Which is all the more reason to keep your kitchen sink clean as possible.

kitchen Sink cleaning – How to Clean Kitchen Sinks, Drains, and sponges

kitchen sink cleaning

my humble kitchen sink

First step towards keeping a sparkling and sanitary kitchen sink is keeping the sink clear of dishes. This is a huge challenge for most of us, definitely for me : ) Now that I have a new apartment with an automatic dishwasher, I was hoping I would be better about keeping my sink clear of clutter; but no, still hopelessly lazy about dishes. But that’s just me. Check out this photo of my sink in the new apartment. It’s a basic home improvement box store kind of sink, cheapest possible one for this rental apartment no doubt. I could use a little more color coordination yes?

Anyway, I just finished washing my sink with baking soda and the purple cellulose sponge, and spraying it first with vinegar (in the blue spray bottle) and then 3% hydrogen peroxide (in the brown bottle). I did not wipe out the droplets although I might have using the pad at the left of the picture. That’s a microfiber polishing pad, sold as a car washing accessory at a big box store.  It has two types of fabric, one for very soft drying and polishing, and the other for fine polishing. Talk about making the fixtures shine! Vinegar will do it alone, but add the polishing cloth and you’ll need sunglasses.

Never clean your kitchen sink, or any sink for that matter, with chlorine bleach, ammonia, or hydrofluoric acid. Don’t ever use steel wool, stiff brushes, or abrasive pads, unless recommended by the manufacturer.

My sink basin bottom has a weird angle that makes it hard to fill up my water filter pitcher so I went to another box store and found that black, enamel wire sink accessory. It claims to be made with anti-bacterial materials, the new rage, but didn’t say exactly what that was. I bought it anyway, and I clean it when I clean the sink.

Drains and Disposals

The drain and disposal in your kitchen sink can retain bits of food even after you clean the sink. That leftover food becomes host to yucky and potentially sickening germs like Listeria, and Salmonella, and according to a study done by NSF International, a non-profit agency that formulates safety standards for water filters and similar equipment 45 percent of kitchen sinks harbor Coliform bacteria and 27 percent had yeast and mold living in them. The fact that Salmonella, a bacteria found in meat products, among other foods (see my post about food safety) can live and breed in your sink drain and disposal is a really good reason not to rinse off meat, poultry and seafood in your sink before cooking them. Never, never fill up your sink with water to wash produce or anything you plan to eat.

Cleaning kitchen Sink Garbage Disposals

Cleaning your garbage disposal regularly is an important part of keeping a clean and sanitary kitchen. Most of us have these appliances underneath our kitchen sinks. I have a garbage disposal in my new apartment. It’s brand new since the old one just broke down. Thank goodness since the old one was rusty and ragged, probably ancient! I didn’t think I’d be able to really clean it so good riddance!

I like the garbage disposal since it keeps food scraps out of my garbage can and therefore the garbage doesn’t get so smelly. But Ellen Sandbeck tells us in her book Green Housekeeping that

“Garbage disposals are of dubious value. Though disposals are convenient for householders, the excess organic material they wash down the drain can strain the capacity of sewage treatment systems, deplete the oxygen in waterways, prematurely clog septic systems, and last but not least, feed sewer rats . . . “

Ellen points out that composting is the most environmentally friendly way to dispose of kitchen waste, everything but meat, fat, eggs and dairy products can be composted. Obviously this is not easy for many people who live in apartments and in the city, but it is ideal!

Karen Logan in her book Clean House Clean Planet also recommends composting your food scraps instead of using a sink waste disposal appliance. If you have a garden or lawn, and room on your property (somewhere exposed to sun and rain) consider starting up a compost bin.

With that said, every bit of advice I read about cleaning garbage disposals is the same:

Put some ice cubes and citrus peels down there and throw the switch!

Logan’s disposal cleaning recipe goes like this:

 “Ingredients: Citrus peels (any kind will do) and some ice cubes.

What to do: Drop three or more ice cubes and a couple of fresh citrus peels down your disposal and grind them. Very noisy but what a great smell! The ice cubes help to cool any grease and grind it out. The citrus peels add a refreshing scent and have a natural acid cleaning power.”

Garbage Disposal Cleaning

Real Simple Cleaning adds some more detail to this recipe, which is that the ice also sharpens the disposal blades.

Garbage Disposal Cleaning Tips

  • Don’t forget to keep cold water running directly into your drain while your disposal is grinding up food.
  • Avoid pouring grease or fat down your drain. Even mixed with plenty of hot water, it still clings to the pipes and will eventually lead to a clog.
  • Don’t try to dispose of large amounts of sticky food like pasta in the garbage disposal.
  • From Real Simple Cleaning–When cleaning your garbage disposal using the ice cube and citrus peel method, substitute ice cubes made of distilled white vinegar and skip the citrus peels to deodorize while you clean and sharpen.
Cellulose Sponges – Why such a Bad Rap?

The yellow and purple sponges are made from cellulose. I am having a hard time giving up my cellulose sponges, they do a great job with dishes and counters, and they are softer than microfiber covered sponges, maybe not as soft as cotton terry cloth. And, they are kind of green since they are made from cellulose (wood pulp fiber) and hemp fibers and sodium sulfate crystals.

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Welcome to my website!

Julia has been practicing green cleaning for several years as the owner of As You Like It Home Cleaning and organic gardening for almost 20 years running Julia Houriet Custom Gardening. She studied landscape design at Radcliffe Seminars in Cambridge Massachusetts. Her expertise is gleaned from education and years of experience.

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