Ask Martha

Removing coffee stains from sink

Q. What is the best way to remove a coffee stain from my kitchen sink?

A. The good news is that coffee isn’t the toughest stain you and your kitchen sink could face. As long as you use the proper cleaners and don’t get too aggressive — steel wool is never a good idea when it comes to sinks — you shouldn’t worry about permanent damage. Try the gentlest method first: dishwashing liquid, water, and a soft sponge. If the stain had time to set in or if the sink is made of a porous material that becomes discolored easily, such as soapstone, it might take more effort.

One of the easiest sink surfaces to clean is enameled cast iron. The enamel is nonporous, so it’s highly stain-resistant. If you get to the stain quickly, water and a nonabrasive sponge should do the trick. Otherwise, use enamel cleaner. You’ll apply the same cleaning methods if your sink is vitreous china or fireclay, both nonporous materials with enameled surfaces. For severely stubborn stains, these materials can tolerate a mildly abrasive detergent such as Bar Keepers Friend All-Purpose Cleaner.


Although its name suggests otherwise, stainless steel’s brushed texture, composed of tiny crevices, is susceptible to stains. If your sink is stainless steel, attack the coffee with a gentle cleaner, such as Martha Stewart Clean All-Purpose Cleaner. If the stain is still there, use a Scotch-Brite Non-Scratch Large Scrub Sponge with a mild but slightly abrasive cleaner, such as Maas Stainless Steel & Chrome Cleaner. Just be sure to scrub with the grain of the sink.

The surfaces most susceptible to staining, because they’re the most porous, are acrylic and granite. They’re also the most likely to get scratched, so use a soft sponge and a nonabrasive all-purpose cleaner.

Adapted from Martha Stewart Living.