Let’s switch gears from the Tree House kitchen remodel, and instead, I’d like to talk about a decision we made in our home kitchen years ago. That room came a long, long way (over the course of way, way too long!), and we made the decision to use a lot of white – white cabinets, white quartz countertops and white tile. Also? A white enamel cast iron sink.
We didn’t consider a white sink a risk; we’ve always loved the look, so we ran with it! Over time, we realized that a white sink = more maintenance. It’s obvious, isn’t it? Pots and pans can and will leave black marks, and tomato sauce and coffee will stain. But the beauty of an enameled sink is that it always bounces back! We think of an enamel cast iron sink in the same way that we think of vintage rugs (stick with me here) – there’s a reason why they’re still around and kicking after a hundred years of use. With a little love, they have staying power. They’re classic. Timeless. And for better or for worse, age looks good on them.
For all these reasons and more, we’re considering the same for Tree House’s kitchen, but because our end goal – in addition to our own family enjoyment – is to rent the home as an Airbnb, we’ll more than likely add one of these. The only downside is the part where you have to actually clean the sink – like, clean clean. (To be honest, cleaning our enamel sink only makes me realize how little we maintained our stainless sinks of yore, so there’s that.) For a while, I used Soft Scrub. It works well, but my goodness, the smell. I never liked that it left a slimy, bleach-y film on my hands, and even worse, I knew from reading Kohler guidelines that it wasn’t recommended for the longevity of their sinks. Still, I continued to use it because it was a one step solution, and it worked.
Finally, I’d had it. (Imagine me with gloved hands, hunched over the sink, holding my breath and my hands dramatically flying into the air; I’ve had it! I’d say!) We do our best to use mild cleansers everywhere else in our home, so why was I continuing to use harsh chemicals for this? It was time to switch to a more natural solution, and now that I’ve got my system down, I can’t imagine going back. Bonus: the natural method smells dreamy.
Non-abrasive scrub pad
To show you how effective this method is, we allowed our sink to marinate for about two months. (Ew.) I told Scott to resist scrubbing away any marks or stains, and although it can be tough to tell in photos, she was ready for her cleaning. See the scuzz and grime? See the yellowed drain?:
First, I spray the sink down and pat it dry with a paper towel. It’s okay for the sink to be slightly damp, but it shouldn’t be wet. Then, I sprinkle enough (read: a lot of) baking soda into the sink so that it covers the bottom, and I dot a few very small drops of hydrogen peroxide over the baking soda. I also get my non-abrasive scrub pad wet with the peroxide, and I begin scrubbing, working left to right. Along the way, I’m making sure to scrub up the sides and all along the caulk line, too! Tip: You know you have the right amount of peroxide if the baking soda gets clumpy. If the soda + peroxide gets soupy, you’ve used too much.
The visible grime and surface scratches will scrub away with the baking soda, but if stains are still persistent, I’ll cut my lemon into quarters and use it to swipe around the edges, corners and drain. If necessary, an extra sprinkle of baking soda on the lemon will cut through stubborn mars in the enamel. The lemon acts as a natural bleach to get rid of rust, red stains, and the like. Plus, it smells good!
Once the sink is shiny and new again, I’ll squeeze any remaining lemon juice down the drain and give everything a final rinse.
The entire process is so much nicer on my hands and nose, but most importantly, on the enamel. (I no longer feel guilty from using the harsh Soft Scrub!) Although having a white sink does require a bit more attention, we think it’s worth it. Happy cleaning!