Stainless steel sinks are valued for their beauty, durability and practicality. Made from a combination of steel, chromium and nickel, stainless steel does not rust. It can, however, become stained, worn, scratched and dulled by daily use. Stainless steel can also be damaged by chlorine bleach and abrasive cleaners. If your sink looks like it could use some help, restore it with proper cleaning, stain removal, polishing and aftercare.
Use plain dish soap, a soft sponge and hot water to clean your stainless steel sink. Any kind of abrasive cleanser, especially one with bleach, will pit the surface, making it look dull. Rinse the sink well with plain water to remove soap residue that can also dull the surface. Avoid steel wool pads, because they will leave tiny shreds of metal embedded in the surface. The shreds will rust, making the stainless steel look like it's rusting when it isn't.
Foods left on stainless steel can cause stains. Remove them with plain white vinegar. Plug the sink and pour in enough vinegar to cover the stained area. Leave it for an hour or so, and then let out the vinegar. Scrub with hot, soapy water and a soft sponge. Remove stains from the minerals in hard water by wiping with a hard-water stain remover purchased at your local hardware store. Rinse with hot water after wiping down the surface, and dry with a towel.
Buff out scratches with a nylon pad and a polishing compound formulated for stainless steel. Rub the compound into the scratched area, working with the finish lines, or grain, of the steel. Then move out of the scratched area, polishing the entire sink bowl. Don't stay too long in one area, because too much rubbing in one spot will make it brighter than the rest of the sink.
Once the stainless steel surface is polished, protect it with a customised stainless steel sink grid for the bottom of the bowl. This grid looks like wire mesh, and prevents scratches from daily use. After washing any dishes, lift the grid to let the sink dry completely.