Your Enameled Cast Iron Sink: A Care Guide

Many homeowners love their enameled cast iron sinks. The sinks are incredibly durable and last for decades, they won't develop dents like a stainless steel sinks can, and you can put hot pots and other items into them without worrying that these sinks will crack. But while they are incredibly durable, enameled cast iron sinks do require some specialized care to keep them in good shape throughout their lifespan. Here are some guidelines for caring for your enameled cast iron sink — along with some tips for repairing minor damage that your sink may suffer as it ages.

Care Tips

1. Stick to non-abrasive cleaners.

Abrasive, "scrub" type cleaners may work well on stainless steal and plastic sinks, but they're a bad choice for enameled cast iron. You may not notice a difference after using such a cleanser once or twice, but it will slowly erode the enamel layer, so after years of use, you'll be left with abrasions and thin spots in it. You can find non-abrasive cleaners made specifically for use in enameled sinks. In most cases, however, washing the sink out with a soft sponge and some dish soap is all you'll need.

2. Be gentle when placing items inside.

You can safely place heavy and hot items inside your enameled sink, but do make sure you set them down gently. If you drop them into the sink abruptly, heavy items may cause the enamel to chip away. 

3. Don't leave staining materials in the sink.

Especially if you have a lighter-colored enamel, like white or cream, you'll want to avoid leaving dark-colored materials like coffee and tea bags in the sink for longer than a few minutes. If left in place for too long, these items can stain your enamel. Try to get into the habit of rinsing your dishes before you set them in the sink. This way, the food debris won't rest on the enamel and promote staining.

4. Soften your water.

If you have hard water, the minerals dissolved in the water can cause scale to slowly build up in your sink -- especially around the drain. If you have hard water, have your plumber install a water softener to remove these minerals as the water enters your home. This won't just protect your sink; it will also protect your pipes and help encourage your soaps and shampoos to lather better.

Repair Tips

1. Address chips when they are small.

If your enameled sink does develop a chip or a worn area, make sure you address it when it's small. There are sink patch kits that you can purchase at a home improvement store. They come with detailed instructions, but basically, you sand the area around the chip to roughen it up, drop epoxy into the chipped area, and let it dry. If you wait until the chip is too large, however, you may need to hire a professional to repair it.

2. Use bleach to remove stains.

If your enamel does develop some dark stains from coffee or other materials, the best way to get rid of them is with plain bleach. Prepare a mixture of 1 part bleach to 9 parts water, and pour it onto the stain. Let it sit for about 5 minutes, and then rub the area with a cloth. The stain should disappear.

You do not want to do this too often as the bleach is hard on the enamel, so do practice the tips in the first section of this article to minimize staining.

If your enameled sink is badly chipped or stained, contact a sink repair expert like those found at Young Plumbing Corporation and have them evaluate the damage. In most cases, repairing the sink will cost less than replacing it.