The 30-second nightly cleaning routine I never skip

Besides brushing my teeth, of course

By Caroline Mullen
Published August 27, 2021 12:05PM (EDT)
 (Rocky Luten / Food52)
(Rocky Luten / Food52)

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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.

How to Deep Clean Your Stainless Steel Sink

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


Caroline Mullen

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