My porcelain sink (and tub) have a problem
January 31, 2014 6:51 AM   Subscribe

We have very hard water and it has a tendancy to stain stuff pretty quickly. The area of the sink and the tub just below the faucets are an endless battle. The only thing that has ever been able to get those stains out has been bleach, but now the bleach has only made things worse because they stain even MORE quickly. It really looks terrible. Help me fix my sink and tub so that we don't look like Grubby McSlobbersons.

I think (am almost positive) the enamel has been damaged and it is now really porous and stain-happy. The sink is by far the worst of the two because it has a tendancy to drip if the faucet handles aren't turned off in exactly the right position. No, I can't replace the sink faucet. However, the sink is the priority for me to solve especially since that is what guests tend to see. I don't want to buy a new sink or tub, nor do I want to have to resurface the entire sink or tub. All I want is a way to protect the areas under the faucets to keep them from staining so quickly. I keep thinking something like a wax would maybe work, but I frankly have no clue. I have seen sink repair kits, but they are both really expensive and time consuming - we only have one bathroom in our house so having the sink and/or tub be not usable for a few days while it cures isn't an option. So I am back to something like a wax...? I'd be fine with having to reapply or touch up a couple times a month if need be. So cheap, moderately effective, and easy to do are things I'm looking for.

..and yes I have learned my lesson about bleach on porcelain...
posted by PuppetMcSockerson to Home & Garden (10 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
You could experiment with Jubilee Kitchen Wax?
posted by kmennie at 7:04 AM on January 31, 2014

Fix the sink faucet so that it doesn't drip. Otherwise, you've ruled out all of the most effective solutions. I doubt wax will last long, given the hot water and hand soap that probably runs over the surface regularly.
posted by jon1270 at 7:04 AM on January 31, 2014 [2 favorites]

Car wax.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 7:21 AM on January 31, 2014 [1 favorite]

You might have discolored the sink with bleach. Use a peroxide/baking soda combo to remove the stains first. I also think something like oxyclean made into a paste would work too.

Then, yes you can use Turtle Wax, just straight up car wax, can be used to help it shed water. It'll also lock in whatever grime you have currently on the surface.

You might not need to replace the faucet, just tighten them up. This lists lots of tutorials for leaky faucets. You might need a washer or some plumbers tape, but we're talking under $5. I don't know where you're seeing expensive sink repair kits. And yeah, it might be annoying and time consuming, but think of the scrubbing time it'll save you.

And if this is a rental, get your landlord to do it. Otherwise, if you're the homeowner you can't let a little leaky faucet intimidate you!
posted by fontophilic at 7:22 AM on January 31, 2014 [1 favorite]

With really hard water, you can get a limescale buildup, which will stain badly. my parent's house has a sink that always had a ring around the drain where a little bit of water would collect and evaporate. you can clean it up with a pumice stone and/or a cleaner like Kaboom or CLR
posted by ArgentCorvid at 7:49 AM on January 31, 2014

Try an enamel paint intended for porcelain or ovens. You'll only need it in the area of the dripping, so a small bottle will do.

Since there won't be a lot of friction wear under the faucet (as opposed to the bathtub floor or rim), it will probably stay. Not sure how it will hold up to scrubbing, but then there are excellent scrub-free cleaners anyway (since I've started using one to spritz after showers, I've never needed to clean the shower by hand - in over two years).
posted by IAmBroom at 8:01 AM on January 31, 2014

I've got an old porcelain tub that can be a pain to get totally squeaky-clean because the surface is a bit worn in places. I also have hard water. I know your pain.

1) Dampen baking soda with some dish soap and scrub in tiny circles with a nail brush to get the soap scum totally, totally vanquished. Rinse with vinegar. (Foamy!!)

2) Douse a piece of paper towel with peroxide and stick it to the stained spots. Smooth it against the porcelain to make sure it's in full contact, without any air bubbles. Leave it like that all day/all evening, checking occasionally to make sure it's still damp, spritzing with more peroxide if necessary.

3) If that doesn't work, use CLR.

4) Once you've gotten your stain gone, wax the area with car wax to help prevent it from happening again.

(I would advise you not to DIY a touch-up with enamel paint, I tried that in a prior residence and, well, it looked like crap.)
posted by desuetude at 8:15 AM on January 31, 2014 [1 favorite]

White vinegar will remove calcium and other mineral buildup nicely. Dip a plastic scrubbing pad (i.e., one that's abrasive but not too abrasive) into a cup of white vinegar and gently scrub the buildup away.

But, yeah, you also need to fix the dripping faucet. Replacing washers or replacing the cartridge if it's the on/off type (i.e., it's fully on with a quarter turn rather than unscrewing) is pretty easy. There are a bajillion YouTube videos walking you through any and every type of minor plumbing repair.
posted by yoink at 9:57 AM on January 31, 2014 [1 favorite]

it has a tendancy to drip if the faucet handles aren't turned off in exactly the right position. No, I can't replace the sink faucet.

Can you replace the seals?
posted by yohko at 3:00 PM on January 31, 2014

In re. enamel: there is lots of Ask advice against it, but it worked great here. Not sure I would do a touch-up in one area, though I did do a bit of that on an old tricycle with surprisingly good results. If the sink is already clapped out aesthetically there's not a lot of risk to trying it...

Five-odd years ago I covered a very old bathtub with Klenk's Epoxy Enamel. It is not a simple afternoon DIY; I spent five days keeping the damn stuff in the freezer and applying one coat after the other with the tub temporarily in the hallway. It was reeky and sticky and hard to clean up after and very much not like painting walls. Doing a little sink with it would be a breeze, though, comparatively speaking, and I would not hesitate to use the same product on a sink that was as described here. Feel free to mail me if you want any more amateur input on the exciting process that is DIY white enamel coating!
posted by kmennie at 4:14 PM on January 31, 2014

« Older What is love, anyway?   |   Help me go paperless Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.