Why do bathroom sinks need cleaning? This is the question asked by my teenage daughter. Her argument was that hot soapy water was running in and out of the basin all the time, so why did she need to clean it after she’d used it?

Every basin needs to be cleaned regularly. Soap scum, residue toothpaste and spit (yuck) will stay and lie on the surface of the sink unless it is thoroughly swilled out and dried off after each use. 

Added to that, are the natural minerals, including the dreaded limescale of hard water areas, which are in the water and will deposit on the surface of the basin and waste plug if left to dry naturally.

Furthermore, the waste plug, overflow channel and bottle trap will all benefit from cleaning regularly to reduce smells and blockages.

Now that we’ve whet your appetite, let’s take a deeper dive into how to care for and clean ceramic bathroom basins!

The Effect of Limescale in Hard Water Areas on Bathroom Basins

A collection of bathroom cleaning products including a sponge and scouring pads

Hard water staining in basins is very common. It is a build-up of the calcium in hard water which has dried (evaporated) off the basin surface leaving this mineral behind. As this sits there and builds, it gets stained from the dirty water as the basin is used, giving it this yellowish-brown colour.

The harder the water the quicker and heavier this will appear. You can check the hard water level of where you live here.

Cleaning Limescale Residue from Bathroom Basins

Here are a couple of tried and tested methods to remove limescale deposits from your bathroom basin:

  1. To agitate the build-up, first, give the area a good scrub with an old toothbrush or nail brush. Then use a vinegar mixture of equal parts white vinegar and water. Leave this sitting in the basin for up to an hour or so before giving the area another brush and then cleaning it with warm water to rinse away the deposits. 
  2. For thicker, more stubborn areas of limescale pour pure white vinegar over them, rather than dilute and leave for 3-4 hours or overnight if needed, again rinsing thoroughly afterwards to remove any residue.

Handy bathroom tip

When the vinegar and water solution is standing in the basin, in the final 15 minutes add any small items that need cleaning into the water, such as your soap tray or toothpaste cup.

Let everything sit for 15 minutes, then drain the sink, rinse and dry the items. This vinegar-water mixture is non-toxic, plus the acidity of the vinegar easily cuts through lime deposits and soap scum. It also evaporates quickly, leaving everything clean and shiny

Wipe over the sink and any remaining water with a dry cloth.

Cleaning and caring for bathroom ceramic basins

White Cesena wall sink in a bathroom

You can clean most bathroom sinks using a general bathroom cleaning spray and a soft cloth. These products are designed for ceramic basins and therefore are ideal. If you would prefer a more gentle option, use mild dish detergent or white vinegar mixed with water to cut through grime.

Keep an old toothbrush or another small, soft-bristled brush for scrubbing around the basin and waste drain.

Ideally, the basin should be cleaned every day and good practice is to spray, wipe out and dry the basin each night after your bedtime wash routine.

Cleaning the overflow

Some basins will have an internal overflow which is used to avoid the basin overflowing if the tap was left on by accident. This is an open hole to the drain and can get smelly if the drain blocks. It is also an area where bacteria can build. A spray of bleach or antibacterial will help to keep on top of this and keep the area clean.

If it does seem blocked or particularly smelly then hot water and a sink cleaner or small bottle brush to clear the channel will do the trick. 

An alternative method for dealing with stubborn smells or blockages:

  • Funnel 1 cup of baking soda into the overflow
  • Add 1 cup of white vinegar
  • Let it fizz away for 15 or so minutes before funnelling very hot water into the overflow
  • It goes without saying to take extra care not to scold yourself when doing the final flushing

Cleaning the waste, waste pipe and bottle trap

A dirty, blocked bottle trap

Hair, soap, toothpaste, foams and shavings are just some of the things which will regularly wash down the waste plug. These can quickly build up causing slow draining of the basin and it becoming very smelly.

Open up the screw part at the bottom of the bottle trap to remove and clean. This is the round part at the bottom – it will undo and make for easy cleaning.

Basin bottle traps can get bound very quickly with hair and soap scum. Also heavier items such as jewellery or in my case teenage daughter’s hair clips can be found and rescued.

Although I’ve not tried it, I have heard that a good trick to clean out any limescale buildup in the waste and bottle trap pipes is to empty a 2-litre bottle of coke (NOT DIET) into the basin and leave for at least four hours, although overnight is best if you can. The cola contains phosphoric acid which is effective in breaking down limescale. Run the tap in the morning to flush out and debris which has lifted and it should be left gleaming.

And there we have it! Hopefully, this guide is all you need to keep your ceramic bathroom basin clean. Why not check out our guide on everything you need to know about cleaning your bathroom?

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