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Home Maintenance And Repair - 01500203

Porcelain Enamel Sinks and Tubs--Care and Cleaning

Porcelain enamel is a glass surface fused to a metal base. This glass surface is damaged by acids and harsh abrasives. It is very hard but can be chipped by hard blows.

Porcelain enamel is acid resistant but not acidproof. The glass coating is gradually dissolved by acids. Acetic and muriatic acids are effective in removing certain stains, but they will also remove part of the surface coating of porcelain enamel. Eventually they will attack the base metal underneath and cause serious damage. Therefore, it is advisable not to use acid cleaners on porcelain enamel.

To clean, wash with warm or hot sudsy water, using detergent. A solution of non-precipitating water softener, or baking soda, in warm water also may remove soap scum and soil. Always rinse with plain water.

If you use scouring powder it should be the very finest one possible. Most scouring powders contain hard particles, such as quartz or feldspar, that cause minute scratches. Once a glasslike surface has been roughened, it becomes a catchall for dirt, grease, soap residue and minute alkaline deposits from hard water. Then abrasives are necessary to remove soil imbedded in the roughened area.

Commercial household or bathroom cleaners may also be used.

You may use chlorine or hydrogen peroxide bleach to remove stains. Do not use these bleaches full strength or let them remain on the surface for more than a few seconds. Rinse the surface thoroughly. Bleaches eliminate most stains but are not effective on rust.

Heavy deposits of grease or soap scum can be removed with a solution of 1 tablespoon trisodium phosphate in 1 gallon hot water. Rinse thoroughly. Or warm water and ammonia solution will do this. Rinse thoroughly. Do NOT combine with any other cleaners.


This article was written by Anne Field, Extension Specialist, Emeritus, with references from the Porcelain Enamel Institute.

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