Best Kitchen Sink Materials to Keep Clean (And Which to Avoid)

Looking to buy a kitchen sink? When it comes to choosing the best kitchen sink material to keep clean, not all types are made equal. Read on to find out which types of kitchen sink materials are easy to keep clean, and which are not.

What is the best kitchen sink to keep clean? Stainless steel sinks are the easiest to keep clean. Stainless steel is non-porous, so they are resistant to stains and do not hold on to food debris. They are also easy to clean and sterilize – which explains their extensive use in hospitals and other medical facilities.

But stainless steel is not the only option if you want a clean kitchen sink. Some of the other materials can be kept just as clean, as long as proper care is taken in order to maintain them. Let’s take a look at the most commonly used kitchen sink materials and how they fare when it comes to cleanliness.

Stainless Steel Sinks

Stainless steel is by far the most commonly used material for kitchen sinks. It is resistant to rust, and if cleaned regularly (and with the right cleaners) it will maintain it’s polished look.

Its non-porous nature makes it resistant to stains, but some water spots might show between cleanings.

Stainless steel is also fairly resistant to scratches. A lower gauge is usually better when it comes to durability. An 18-gauge or lower is ideal for most kitchen sinks.

If needed, stainless steel sinks are also easiest to sterilize.

If you’d like to learn more about the best stainless steel sinks available on the market today, this post will be a useful resource.

Granite Composite Sinks

Granite composite sinks are generally manufactured with 80-95% granite stone and 5-20% resin. This gives granite composite sinks a lot of desirable properties, while also reducing the cost.

Granite composite sinks are non-porous, which makes them stain resistant.

On top of that, they are also scratch-resistant and resistant to water spots.

The one drawback of granite composite sinks is that most cleaning products like bleach or vinegar can cause etching over time. Using cleaners that contain either acidic or basic ingredients will strip the finish off the sink. In order to avoid this, you may use a pH-neutral cleaner, or a cleaner made specifically for granite surfaces.

If you need help picking a good granite composite sink for your kitchen, this post lists the pros and cons of some of the best options available.

Fireclay Sinks

Fireclay kitchen sinks are another great option for cleanliness, but they are a step below stainless steel and granite composite.

Fireclay sinks are scratch-resistant and spill-resistant. It can be cleaned easily by simply wiping the surface with a wet cloth.

Fireclay sinks are also stain-resistant, but they are susceptible if not cared for properly. Although still non-porous, they tend to absorb color from strong substances if left for long periods of time. These can sometimes be hard to remove.

Another thing to consider is that since fireclay sinks are so hard, glasses and dishes are more likely to break if not careful if not carefully placed in the sink.

TIP: Be careful to select the right garbage disposal for your fireclay kitchen sink. Since fireclay is thicker, it can easily crack if the garbage disposal is not compatible.

Copper Sinks

Copper is one of the more interesting materials used for making kitchen sinks.

Copper is naturally antibacterial. Which means that it kills most of the bacteria on its surface on its own. However, this property is greatly weakened if a sealant is applied to the sink. This is something to consider if you decide to go with a copper kitchen sink.

Copper is also naturally rust-proof and hard to stain. If harsh chemicals are used to wash the sink, its resistance to rust might reduce over time.

An important factor to consider with copper sinks is that over time it will develop a blue/green patina. This is totally normal as the sink surface reacts with substances over time, and is actually a protective layering to the copper. This will make the sink turn darker with time. Some people like this look and others don’t. This patina, however, can be prevented by periodically applying wax or by lightening the sink up using a scotch bright pad.

If the aesthetics of the patina appeal to you or if it something you feel like you can deal with – then a farmhouse copper kitchen sink might just be the perfect fit for your kitchen.

Cast Iron Kitchen Sinks

Cast Iron Kitchen sinks are made by heating iron until it melts and then pouring the molten iron into a mold. Because bare iron rusts over time, it is given a heavy coating of porcelain enamel finish.

If there is erosion of the enamel over time, then the exposed iron will rust. This can cause serious issues if not repaired or replaced.

Also, the porcelain surface can stain more easily than other types of sink surfaces. Certain foods that don’t get wiped out of the sink right away can leave stains that are difficult to remove.

Cast iron kitchen sinks are known for their durability and affordability. They are also available in a variety of colors, which makes them a popular buy.

But when it comes to cleanliness, cast iron is probably not your best option to go with.

Natural Stone Sinks – Marble or Granite

Kitchen sinks made of natural stones like marble or granite are high in quality and durability. But there is a lot of maintenance and care required to keep them clean.

Stone sinks are not suitable for heavy usage. Frequent usage and cleaning of the sink may wear off the protection layer.

Marble sinks or granite sinks are also usually porous in nature, so if not maintained properly they will be susceptible to staining and harboring bacteria. These sinks require annual sealing and proper care.

Just like granite composite sinks, natural stone sinks are also prone to etching if acidic cleaners are used.

Staining from hard water is also common in stone sinks. Minerals present in hard water like iron and calcium deposit on the surface of the sink over time. When this deposit oxidizes, the stain becomes obvious, especially if your sink is light in color. To remove this stain, you will likely need a professional to treat your stone.

Natural stone sinks are not right for the majority of people. But for those who are committed to its proper maintenance, it will be a beautiful addition to your kitchen that can last you a lifetime.

Final Words

As we’ve seen, stainless steel sinks are the gold standard when it comes to cleanliness but they are not the only option. Depending on your needs and how much time you spend maintaining your kitchen sink, other materials can work just as well.

Here is a table summarizing the pros and cons of the different types of kitchen sink materials, and how they compare to each other on some of the common cleanliness criteria.

Stainless SteelYesYesYesEasily sterilized
Granite CompositeYesYesYesCleaners cause etching over time
FireclayYesYes, but care neededYesNot dish friendly
CopperYesYes. Avoid contact with acidic substancesNoNaturally antibacterial. Develops patina over time.
Cast IronNoPorcelain enamel coating susceptible to stainingYesKeeping clean requires careful maintenance
Natural StoneYesNoYesPorous materials can harbor germs and bacteria

Related Questions

How dirty is your kitchen sink? Kitchen sinks are more contaminated with bacteria that your average toilet bowl. Non-vegetarian households have it worse since particles of meat stick to the sink surface and become excellent breeding grounds for germs. (source)

How often should I clean my kitchen sink? It is recommended that you deep clean your kitchen sink at least once every week. And every time after you work with raw meat. It is also important to clean your drain out once every few weeks.

Are black kitchen sinks hard to keep clean? The color of the sink doesn’t affect how hard it is to keep clean, although a case can be made that darker sinks make it hard to see stains and dirty spots. A regular cleaning routine is needed to ensure a pristine sink, regardless of its color.

George Sab is a retired home improvement professional. For over 30 years, he has educated his clients and helped them make the best choice for their homes. George started A Great Sink in 2017 to share his knowledge with the world and assist his readers on their journey to their perfect home!


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