Our Farmhouse Sink – Tips to Clean and Care for Porcelain Sinks

posted by Andrea | 01/22/2013

Ever since I’ve been old enough to dream about my future “dream house” I KNEW that house would someday have a big, apron-front farm sink.

I actually had no idea they were called “apron-front” or “farm” sinks — i just knew what the sinks looked like, and I knew I wanted one in my future kitchen some day.

 

Fast-forward many, many years… and I have one! :)

And I’m happy to say that it really IS as fabulous as I dreamed/hoped it would be! 

Not only does it LOOK marvelous in our new farmhouse kitchen, it also functions exactly the way we want our kitchen sink to function.

It’s huge! We can fit THREE 9″x13″ pans laying flat with plenty of room for other dishes as well… or 24 jars of applesauce – in case you were wondering! :)

jars of applesauce

It’s also plenty big enough to give small children a bath… but Nora splashes WAY too much for that!

And since it’s an under-mount sink, we can just wipe crumbs and junk from the counter right into the sink and we never have to clean around yucky grout or try to get crumbs out of the crack between the sink and the counter top.

It seems that farmhouse sinks are all the rage these days — which is a little disappointing to me, because I like to be unique. However, this also makes it easier to find products to clean, care for, and protect our sink.

Over the past 3 months since I shared the photos of our new sink, I’ve gotten many questions asking about it… so today, I’m answering the top three questions I get over and over again!

1. How do you wash dishes with only one large compartment?

Well, we wash dishes exactly the same way we did in our old 2-compartment sink :) We just dry the dishes differently!

Sometimes, if there are only a few dishes to wash, we use a plastic tub that fits in half the sink. That way, we save some water and the whole process goes faster. However, most of the time, we fill the sink with dishes so it’s not worth using the plastic tub.

Then, after we rinse the dishes, we lay them on the counter to the side of the sink to dry. We use these microfiber mats to lay the dishes on —  they work really well.

This is actually how we washed/dried our dishes in all our previous sinks as well because there was rarely enough room in one side of the sink to hold all the drying dishes.

They sell these drying mats all over the place (we got ours from Bed, Bath & Beyond)

2. How do you protect the sink from scratches and black marks?

Believe it or not, it’s actually pretty hard to “scratch” porcelain (or fireclay) sinks. It’s more likely that you’ll get grey/black marks on the bottom from pans or stainless steel utensils. These might look like scratches, but they are easily removed with some Soft Scrub, a sponge, and a little elbow grease.

I always use the Soft Scrub with bleach because I feel like it gets things really clean, but the bleach is not necessary for removing the black marks.

Also, we protect the bottom of our sink with a rubber mat. We don’t keep this mat in the bottom all the time, just when we’re washing dishes without the plastic bin (which is how we wash them the majority of the time).

sink mat

You can buy smaller mats for 2-basin sinks at almost any home goods store; however the larger farmhouse sink mats are extremely expensive (I saw some for $89!!!). Of course, my frugal genes just wouldn’t let me spend that much for a silly mat, so instead I purchased a clear “pebble” bathtub mat and cut it down to size.

It’s honestly a perfect fit — and it only cost $8.99 from Bed Bath & Beyond — a savings of 90%!

3 . How do you keep the sink clean?

Honestly, it’s SO easy!

Unlike stainless steel sinks that have 10,000 watermarks and fingerprints, a porcelain/fireclay sink doesn’t show any of that.

However, since it’s such a big sink and since it’s very rectangular, food particles tend to get caught in the corners of the sink. So we’ve just gotten in the habit of using the sprayer on our faucet to wash everything down the drain.

Sometimes, I’ll use my famous vinegar cleaner to disinfect the sink, sometimes I’ll just wipe it down with sudsy water from washing dishes, and other times I’ll use the Soft Scrub to clean things.

Whatever method I choose, it doesn’t take more than a couple minutes to have it looking like new again.

I was actually a little worried that our sink might be too high-maintenance for me, but I’ve been pleasantly surprised at how simple it is to clean and care for.

Oh, and in case you’re wondering, we purchased our sink from Signature Hardware and were extremely happy with the customer service and product quality. 

Do you have any tips or tricks for porcelain sinks?

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41 comments

  1. Kimberley

    01/22/2013

    Love your sink! I, too, dream of one day having one of these types of sinks in my future kitchen. We currently have stainless steel and all I have to say is “yuck”. It is so hard to clean and even after cleaning it (I am a little OCD when it comes to cleaning it), I feel like it’s still dirty. Not to mention, it’s just so small!

    Thanks for sharing!!!

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  2. Rebecca

    01/22/2013

    Beautiful Sink! I hadn’t really thought about one of those sinks, but after seeing how big it is, that is on ly “wish list” for my house one day. I really don’t like the divided sinks, it makes it really hard to clean all my large pots and pans. the sink we have now (rented house) is small on one side and big on the other. I gripe under my breath sometimes when I clean dishes! It’s not user friendly, I have a feeling it was designed by a man who never cleaned dishes. anyway, thanks for sharing the pics, it’s a great kitchen!

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  3. Ramona

    01/22/2013

    I also have a white porcelain sink and the magic eraser works great on the black marks. I buy the different sized magic erasers and the small one will last about a year for cleaning the sink. It works wonderfully :)

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  4. Kaisa

    01/22/2013

    Totally off-topic: every time I read a blog post or an article about dishes, I stop for a second and wonder “why do they dry the dishes by hand/on the counter”. Of course I *know* that Finland is more or less the only place on Earth with dish draining closets (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dish_draining_closet the picture features “lovely” style from the 70s!) but it’s such an every-day thing (especially in a small apartment without a dishwasher!) that I just forget its Finnish-ness.

    But I have to say, having that lovely window by your sink is a very good alternative to the draining closet ;)

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  5. Melissa

    01/22/2013

    We have an almond cast iron/porcelain sink also. I really really want to do an undermount next time, the space between the sink and back wall is disgusting. I use the small magic eraser to clean ours as well, it works so well removing all the small discolorations and particles. I felt like a contest winner when I tried it and saw how awesome it worked :)

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  6. Heart and Haven

    01/22/2013

    I just got a new farmhouse sink for my kitchen! I found the Kohler Whitehaven (it has a unique design to fit “standard” cabinet frames without having to modify the doors below – woohoo!).

    Great idea on the tubmat cut down to size. Where do you store the plastic tub & mat when not using?

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    Andrea Reply:

    Your sink sounds lovely! And to answer you question, we store the tub mat, the drying mats, our soap, rubber gloves, and sponges right inside the plastic tub we sometimes use for washing small loads of dishes. Then we keep that tub fully of “supplies” in the cabinet under the sink.

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    Heart and Haven Reply:

    I’ve been using a 12 qt. dishpan I found at Target (for $1.97, woohoo!) and a tub mat (cut to size) for a week now…and it’s been working perfectly!

    Although I don’t normally wash dishes by hand…I still keep the plastic tub filled with soapy water to put in dirty dishes accumulated throughout the day from my kiddos. It’s also great to help remove food particles so I don’t have to pre-scrub before loading the dishwasher, and keeps the farmhouse sink so much cleaner.

    The tub mat works great to protect against the pots & pans (especially our large stock pot)….and works great to help give baths to a squirmy 10 month old without slip-sliding around :-)

    My husband is the cook in the house, but is super messy. I LOVE having a clean kitchen, and I was surprised just how much these tips helped to minimize work for keeping the sink clean. Thanks!

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  7. Deni

    01/22/2013

    I recently got a porcelain sink for our kitchen and I found a product that works wonders on gray and black marks. Its called “Barkeeper’s Friend”, its been around since 1882 and is fabulous. It’s powder in a can like Ajax. I had to order it online but I think Lowes carries it. It’s also cheap! I also use a small tub for my cast iron pan, just in case.

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    Candice H Reply:

    Barkeeper’s Friend is what I was going to recommend! When we put a porcelain pedestal sink in our bathroom within the first week my husband put a big grey scratch across the front with his ring :( I couldn’t remove it with anything until I tried the Barkeeper’s Friend!

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  8. Debby

    01/22/2013

    I just stumbled onto your site when I googled organizing files. I love reading your posts. I am addicted. I have a farmhouse sink in the box awaiting a kitchen renovation that will hopefully take place this summer/fall. I have lived in my home for 23 years and while the kitchen has great bones, it really needs some updating. I will use your hints for keeping it clean. I can’t wait until the day I can throw that stainless steel double sink to the curb!!!

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    Andrea Reply:

    Way to plan ahead and get your sink already! You’ll LOVE it once you have it installed!!

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  9. Maggie

    01/22/2013

    I don’t know if my last comment worked. I asked wether you rinse the suds off your dishes or do they go straight from the soapy water to drain? We are planning a kitchen this year and I like the usefulness of a large sink but I feel weird leaving soap residue on my dishes.

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    Andrea Reply:

    Yes of course Maggie, we definitely rinse our dishes… I guess I’m not sure why you would think we didn’t rinse them just because we have a large sink?? Maybe I’m missing something, but we wash our dishes just like we would in any sink — the only difference is we dry them on the counter instead of in the other side of the sink.

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    Maggie Reply:

    When I’ve only had one sink in the past, it was a small one and I couldn’t rinse them as I went. I just don’t know how to rinse them with one sink. Do you wash them all then refill the sink and rinse? Or do you rinse them under the tap as you go? Sorry if it is obvious, but I grew up with a double sink and the dishes went from the wash side, to the rinse side, to the drain board. I don’t know how to cope with a single sink :)

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    Amie C Reply:

    We have two sinks and we don’t dry our dishes in the second side, we rinse them there. I was confused too, but I’m guessing you just run the water to rinse them over the sink where you washed them and it adds new water to the sink?

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  10. Stephanie

    01/22/2013

    I used to have a giant porcelain sink in my last house. I miss it so much!

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  11. Ashley

    01/22/2013

    I love your sink and your kitchen. I was wanting to know what type of fern you have growing by your sink? I also want to say how much i appreciate all the information you give to us and I love the fact that i can count on you to always have something new posted. I have read your blog for so long that i feel like i have seen all of it yet i can still spend time reading through all of your stuff! So keep ‘em coming, you’re awesome!

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    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks so much Ashley — it’s actually a fake fern that I “put together” using fern pieces from a local craft store and a cool old pot. SOOOO glad you thought it looked real though :)

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  12. Kate

    01/23/2013

    Andrea, what is that green thing behind your faucet and that branchy-looking item next to it?

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    Andrea Reply:

    Kate, the “green thing” is just a mini cutting board. I have 2 of them (green and yellow) and we use them both every day, so I leave them sitting out all the time.
    The “branchy-looking item” is a fake potted fern :)

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  13. Ellen

    01/26/2013

    I don’t have my porcelain sink anymore, but I scrubbed the tough stains with baking soda, since I’m a little leery of bleach. Just straight baking soda and a scrubby sponge, and it got out most scuffs and especially those rust rings from the cast iron skillets. (And if you’ve never left a cast iron skillet in the sink too long, well, I’m not sure I want to talk to you anymore. ;) )

    It is lovely, btw. A fresh kitchen makes such a big difference.

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  14. Alyssa

    02/05/2013

    I love your braided rug!

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  15. kristie a.

    02/18/2013

    your kitchen is beautiful! do you know the name of your granite color?

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    Andrea Reply:

    THanks Kristie,
    The Granite is “New Venetian Gold”. Also, if you scroll down to the bottom of this post, you can read about where we purchased everything for our kitchen!

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  16. Lauren {Rustic Honey}

    02/25/2013

    Thank you for the tips! Soft scrub worked like a charm on some stains in my farmhouse sink! I actually used Comet and A LOT of elbow grease to get out some black marks left from our pots and pans. I am using a plastic tub to wash dishes as well now. I find that I do not neglect the dirty dishes because it piles up more quickly in a small tub! Great ideas and thank you for sharing!

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  17. Heather

    06/19/2013

    Could you please tell me which size and sink you have? Thanks!

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  18. Rebecca Rynsoever

    07/09/2013

    A few years ago we were thinking about building a house and I came across a farmhouse sink at a warehouse sale for $200. I snatched it up and then we HAD to build a house because we had a sink! We say we bought a sink and built a house around it. :o) Mine is the double-sink variety but it’s still big enough for all of our large items. My only beef with farms sinks is you have to chase food bits around the sink with the sprayer to get them to drain because of the squareness of it.

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    Andrea Reply:

    haha — I would have totally built a house around an awesome farm sink too! and I know what you mean about it being a little harder to get the food particles out of the corners — but that’s a tiny trade-off for having a nice, big farmhouse sink as the focal of our kitchen!

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  19. Peter Visima

    07/21/2013

    We are just finishing a kitchen renovation that included the installation of a 30-inch wide Franke farmhouse sink. Thank you so much for the tip on the bathroom mat that I just ordered from Amazon.

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    Andrea Reply:

    yup, no problem — the bathtub mat is a HUGE cost savings over the “special” farmhouse sink mats and it works fabulously!

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  20. Anabell

    09/09/2013

    How do you keep your mat clean? I purchased a clear bath math (pebble-style) for my 36″ Kohler Whitehaven farmhouse sink. After only two weeks, it’s already turning color…reddish, mostly. I can’t use bleach on it due to allergies. Any recommendations?

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    Andrea Reply:

    Hmmm… I’ve had absolutely no issue keeping our mat clean — but we ONLY put it in our sink when we wash dishes. The rest of the time, we keep it stored under our sink with our drying mats. Do you keep yours in the sink all the time? If so, it probably absorbs some of the stains from any food that gets washed down the sink. That’s the only thing I can think of though.

    I suppose you could also try putting it in your dishwasher or washing machine? Of course, my mat cost less than $10 so if worse comes to worse, you could always just buy another one :)

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  21. Anabell

    09/11/2013

    I do keep mine out all the time and it is more discolored near the drain so I’m sure it’s staining from food. I tried the dishwasher, which used to work beautifully for the little mat from my old sink, but this one is SO big that it had to go in somewhat rolled up, so it didn’t work so well. I’ll try the washing machine next … good idea! My mat cost $8 at Home goods so I bought two cause I was so excited to find something that was big enough and didn’t cost an arm and a leg

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  22. Constance Doolittle

    02/16/2014

    Love your sink and faucet!!! Please share the brand/model of your pull-out spray sink faucet.
    Thank you,
    Connie

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  23. Nancy

    02/18/2014

    hi. i just installed my farmhouse this week and I love it! i also purchased it at Signature Hardware. my only pain was that since I live in Puerto Rico, it cost me an arm and a leg to bring it here, oh but it was worth it!! I think I’m the only one here who has one. They’re not sold in Puerto Rico, only the stainless steel farm sinks, which is what everyone is buying. Thank you soooooooooooooooo much for your wonderful tips! i’m going to BB&Beyond this afternoon to purchase a tub mat. what a great idea! the only sink mat I found is much smaller and uncomfortable.

    keep up the good work!

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    Andrea Reply:

    bummer on the shipping — but I’m SURE you’ll love your sink as much as we love ours! Happy dish washing :)

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  24. Katie

    03/03/2014

    Hi! Just wondering if you had the exact name of the sink you purchased? And, I have to say I love your kitchen–has the exact look I am going for! Did you do your floors yourself or were they there when you purchased the house? If you did put them in, can you tell me what the name and color of the wood is? Thanks!!!!

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    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Katie. The company no longer carries the exact sink we purchased — but there should be links within this post to Signature Hardware (which is where we purchased our sink from)

    And for the hardwood floors, you can read ALL about those here: http://andreadekker.com/our-reclaimed-wood-floors/

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  25. Amy

    03/10/2014

    This is a question for Nancy (living in Puerto Rico)…where did you find even stainless steel apron front sinks here on the island??? I’ve been looking everywhere for our kitchen remodel and am about to give up hope! Help! Thank you for any assistance!
    Amy

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  26. Caree

    10/21/2014

    Hi there! If you wouldn’t mind answering a few questions about your sink- what is the width(“) of you sink? And does it really make a difference functionally if the drain is offcenter or center? I was originally set on an off-center drain (though I’m not sure why) but now I am trying to find one, and ones with off-center drains are harder to find and more expensive. Thoughts?

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