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How to clean and remove stains from an old cast iron sink

Nov 21 2016 -
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So, as you all know, I have been working diligently in my basement for the past couple of months. For the bathroom I had set aside my grandparents’ old bathroom cabinet and this gorgeous, ancient, American Standard, cast iron sink! It was in one of the sheds and though I don’t know exactly how old it is my guess is between 40-50 years. When I posted about our kitchen sink base, I had lots of questions on how to clean cast iron because, like this one, it was SO GROSS. So I rolled up my sleeves and took lots of pictures of the process this time! So, this is how I removed stains from and clean cast iron sinks that are covered in total nasty! But first, check out this amazing sink!

How to remove stains and clean an antique old cast iron American Standard sink with vinegar and baking soda, a fifty year old sink from one of my shedsHow to remove stains and clean an antique old cast iron American Standard sink with vinegar and baking soda, a fifty year old sink from one of my sheds
How to remove stains and clean an antique old cast iron American Standard sink with vinegar and baking soda, a fifty year old sink from one of my sheds
antique-american-standard-sinkHow to remove stains and clean an antique old cast iron American Standard sink with vinegar and baking soda, a fifty year old sink from one of my sheds

It was literally still in the crate it was first boxed in from the factory! Even the old wrapping around the hardware was still there! It pained me a little to remove it from the crate because every board was so cool and so old. (I saved every board and the crate for a later project.) Even the old American Standard label was still stuck to the front of it. It also came with a serious amount of ick so I knew it would be a big job to get it clean. First, we got it installed and working, I can’t believe there were no leaks, it works perfectly, even the drain stopper! Really, they just don’t make them like they used to. After that, I got to work cleaning it.

How to remove stains and clean an antique old cast iron American Standard sink with vinegar and baking soda, a fifty year old sink from one of my sheds

First thing was first I got as much as I could without water or anything, just paper towels and some scrubbing to remove all of the dry big nastiness. Then I rolled up my sleeves. When I clean cast iron there are only three things that I bring with me: a scrubby sponge (NOT an SOS pad or anything abrasive!!), a box of baking soda and a jug of white vinegar. First I covered the whole sink with baking soda and made sure to plug the drain, then I dumped in about a cup of vinegar so everything went crazy sudsy. And then I got to scrubbing.

How to remove stains and clean an antique old cast iron American Standard sink with vinegar and baking soda, a fifty year old sink from one of my sheds
How to remove stains and clean an antique old cast iron American Standard sink with vinegar and baking soda, a fifty year old sink from one of my sheds

After a substantial amount of scrubbing the sink was looking remarkably better, I got the majority of the worst off of it and dried it up and assessed what I needed to do next. Where the label was there was one heck of a nasty stain that no amount of elbow grease was going to work on so I made a paste with the vinegar and the baking soda and covered it up and left it for about 36 hours.

How to remove stains and clean an antique old cast iron American Standard sink with vinegar and baking soda, a fifty year old sink from one of my shedsMake money by shopping online by using Ebates!How to remove stains and clean an antique old cast iron American Standard sink with vinegar and baking soda, a fifty year old sink from one of my sheds

The stain was nearly gone at this point so I gave it the paste treatment again and left it for another couple of days:

How to remove stains and clean an antique old cast iron American Standard sink with vinegar and baking soda, a fifty year old sink from one of my sheds

And viola! The stain is almost completely gone! This sink will never again look brand new certainly, but I am really impressed with how beautiful it is. The vinegar and baking soda treatment has impressed me before but now I’m a real believer if it can clean cast iron it can clean anything!

How to remove stains and clean an antique old cast iron American Standard sink with vinegar and baking soda, a fifty year old sink from one of my shedsHow to remove stains and clean an antique old cast iron American Standard sink with vinegar and baking soda, a fifty year old sink from one of my sheds
How to remove stains and clean an antique old cast iron American Standard sink with vinegar and baking soda, a fifty year old sink from one of my shedsHow to remove stains and clean an antique old cast iron American Standard sink with vinegar and baking soda, a fifty year old sink from one of my shedsHow to remove stains and clean an antique old cast iron American Standard sink with vinegar and baking soda, a fifty year old sink from one of my shedsHow to remove stains and clean an antique old cast iron American Standard sink with vinegar and baking soda, a fifty year old sink from one of my sheds

(Just to let everybody know Joe made it home all right driving through an amazing blizzard that we had on Friday! All in we got 16 inches of snow in less then 24 hours. But we all weathered through it just fine… if admittedly a little cranky because we just went from sixty degree days to full on winter. Stay tuned for some major snow pictures later this week!)

How to remove stains and clean an antique old cast iron American Standard sink with vinegar and baking soda, a fifty year old sink from one of my sheds

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44 Comments

  1. November 21, 2016 at 7:21 pm

    I’m so glad you posted this! I’m struggling with my cast iron bath.

    • November 21, 2016 at 10:05 pm

      Tracey, the next step would be to try laying a hydrogen peroxide soaked rag on the stain – I hear it can really work wonders!

      • November 23, 2016 at 8:51 pm

        Awesome, I’ll try that. Thank you so much

      • Sue
        November 27, 2016 at 5:41 pm

        Hey Tarah, There is a wonderful product called “Iron Out” available here that will kill All iron stains in a short time. My well water had so much iron in it my sinks etc and my clothes (and the washer tub) were all badly stained. A neighbor told me to get Iron Out, now it is very strong and has a strong smell, so use it carefully, ventilated rooms only, but you wet down your sink/tub/whatever and sprinkle about a quarter cup on it, let it sit for a few minutes, then add water to the sink (plug it up first), and let that sit for a little while. Then take a look and see if the stains aren’t all gone. This works so much better than bleach, or comet, or anything else I have ever used… and requires NO Scrubbing At all… It Does have a powerful smell, so don’t stand close , just let it soak while you go Breathe somewhere else…
        Have you seen it in your stores? Grocery or Walmart or hardware stores usually carry it… If you don’t find it and want it I will send you some if you like…

        • November 28, 2016 at 4:08 pm

          Hey Sue, thank you for the tip, I do believe I remember seeing a bottle of that in my mom’s old cleaning supplies cabinet. I’ll run over to our local fleet store and grab one, thank you!!

  2. Jenny Young
    November 21, 2016 at 10:08 pm

    Beautiful job! I use baking soda & vinegar on everything. You might try baking soda & lemon juice as well. It works on stains on my kitchen counter with no problems. I also use Borax alot to clean my sinks & bathtub if you’re comfortable using it.

    • November 21, 2016 at 10:24 pm

      Jenny, great idea! I didn’t consider trying borax, I use it my laundry soap so I always have a box around, I’ll have to try it!

  3. Nancy F Lambert
    November 28, 2016 at 2:33 am

    Beautiful job, Thank you

    • November 28, 2016 at 4:21 pm

      Thanks Nancy for coming by!

  4. December 14, 2016 at 11:52 pm

    Great tips, Tarah! I’ll be posting this on a couple of Pinterest boards 🙂 Thanks for linking up with Vintage Charm 🙂

  5. Cheryl
    December 20, 2016 at 5:20 pm

    You might try some whitening toothpaste on some of the stains and scratch marks! It really works on some stains!

    • December 20, 2016 at 6:57 pm

      That’s a great idea Cheryl, thanks for the tip!

  6. Ruth Christian
    January 4, 2017 at 4:11 pm

    How do you get the brown, baked on residue from the inside of the glass oven door? I’ve tried several things and have gotten it cleaner, but not completely. I need help!!

    • January 4, 2017 at 7:25 pm

      Hey Ruth, in the past I’ve using a water and baking soda combo to make a paste (you’ll only need a very little bit of water) and cover it with that and then let it sit for 15-20 minutes and then get to scrubbing. It’s worked for me but I bet some vinegar in there would probably help as well.

  7. January 17, 2017 at 8:27 pm

    Baking soda and vinegar are seriously 2 of my favourite things <3. Your sink looks amazing.

    • January 17, 2017 at 8:28 pm

      Me too!! I literally by vinegar by the gallon now lol!

  8. January 18, 2017 at 11:41 pm

    Tarah the transformation of that cast iron sink is just amazing!! I had no idea baking soda and vinegar could be let to sit some days and the effects would still work. Thanks for the tips, pinning to remember!

    • January 19, 2017 at 3:44 pm

      Thanks for commenting Pili, I was really pleasantly surprised at how well it worked!

  9. January 19, 2017 at 2:15 pm

    Wow! What a difference! Thanks for sharing on the Pleasures of the NW’s DIY party!

    • January 19, 2017 at 3:45 pm

      Thank you so much Helen!

  10. January 21, 2017 at 5:08 am

    Where did you find this treasure. Your absolutely right they certainly don’t make things to last like they use to. This sink is so funky and fun. Love it.

    I often use baking soda and vinegar but have never been patient enough to try it for more than a few hours. I will certainly be following your method going forward.

    Thank you very much for joining the #HomeMattersParty. PS. I saw the instagram pic of the absolutely gorgeous horse and followed you. Give him a carrot for me please, hes adorable!!

    • January 23, 2017 at 3:38 pm

      Thanks Leanna! We actually pulled it out of one of our sheds, I can only imagine why my grandpa must have stashed it there – did he have the plan to use it some day? I don’t know! So glad it was there though, I literally squealed when I spotted it!
      I need to post more pictures of Garcia! He’s been with me for a very long time and he’s such a wonderful horse! I stop at the end of the day for his kisses 🙂

  11. Jann Olson
    January 25, 2017 at 3:19 am

    Wow, what a transformation! I have an old sink that I have used as a planter outside and now I want to add it to my she shed. This will come in handy when I go to clean it. Thanks for sharing your tips with SYC.
    hugs,
    Jann

    • January 25, 2017 at 4:08 pm

      What a great idea Jann, I’ve been thinking about thinking an old sink that I could hook up to a water hose outside! Thanks for coming by!

  12. January 25, 2017 at 6:52 pm

    I need a shed with treasures like that in it. Great job restoring it – looks awesome!
    Thanks for sharing at Funtastic Friday!

  13. January 26, 2017 at 2:30 am

    What a find! If you could get that clean, I can get my sink clean too! Thanks for coming to the party at Celebrate and Decorate!

  14. February 1, 2017 at 5:18 am

    Wow, that turned out fantastic! I would have thought it was a goner, but your efforts were well worth it! #happynowlinkup

    • February 2, 2017 at 4:02 pm

      Thanks so much Jen! It’s not perfect but that’s basically what I love about it lol!

  15. February 2, 2017 at 6:49 pm

    What an incredible find! I can’t believe the sink was still in its old crate. Baking soda and vinegar are both fantastic cleaning solutions, and clearly together are a true powerhouse. Thanks for sharing at the #happynowlinkup!

  16. February 5, 2017 at 3:14 am

    Baking soda is my favorite cleaning trick. It cleans everything. Ev-ery-thing. I’m glad to hear that Joe got home safely. 🙂 Thanks for sharing at the #ThisIsHowWeRoll Link Party.

    • February 6, 2017 at 4:10 pm

      Thanks Susan! Yup baking soda is almost a miracle worker!

  17. February 7, 2017 at 12:08 am

    Wow! That looks great. We have an identical sink in our shop bathroom. I love that they are more space saving with their shape and faucet. Unfortunately, ours looks more like your before picture than your after picture:/). Hadn’t thought about baking soda and vinegar. Not sure why not??? Will have to give it a go. Thanks.

    • February 7, 2017 at 3:58 pm

      Hello! And if that doesn’t work trying hydrogen peroxide and vinegar too! I read that it can really really help if the baking soda fails! Thanks for coming by 🙂

  18. February 7, 2017 at 3:01 am

    Wow that came out pretty great! Thanks for linking up at #MerryMonday!
    Kim

  19. February 12, 2017 at 6:54 pm

    What a great look in your rustic vanity. Thanks for sharing at Home Sweet Home.

  20. February 16, 2017 at 7:31 pm

    SO amazing! great job!

    I would love for you to share this with my Facebook Group for recipes, crafts, tips, and tricks: https://www.facebook.com/groups/pluckyrecipescraftstips/

    Thanks for joining Cooking and Crafting with J & J!

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