Wondering if anyone has advice for if there is a way to remove this stain in my kitchen sink. What happened was a bottle of Lysol toilet bowl cleaner was leaking badly (did not come out of the cap right), so I put it on a paper towel and set it in the sink while I wiped it off, cleaned it, and tried to stop the leaking. Horrified when I lifted it back off the paper towel and saw this mark or whatever it might be. I have tried baking soda, vinegar, and dish soap and nothing changed. Any suggestions for what to do, or if this is even fixable?

  • 2
    You should post this on diy.stackexchange.com Commented Jul 18, 2019 at 22:23
  • Lysol toilet bowl cleaner destroyed my stainless steel sink. Nothing helped. I actually used the toilet bowl cleaner to clean the sink! Unbeknownst to me that can't be done! I even let it soak for hours before returning to a bunch of loops all around my sink - black and unremovable. Commented Sep 10, 2020 at 2:50
  • The sink doesn't have something to sand off. It has been stained or dyed like it has been electrically chromed or dipped in a chemical, which it has; lysol toilet cleaner. I dont't see going back. Some areas look like those new dark appliances and some areas are a light stainless steel color. I did the same thing and I need a new sink. Warren
    – Warren
    Commented Nov 10, 2021 at 6:04

3 Answers 3


First, the bad news.

The surface of your sink has been etched. It has become pitted by the action of the sodium hydroxide. It cannot be washed off or away.

Now, the not so bad news. It can be repaired

Your best recourse is to polish your sink until the corroded area has been rubbed smooth. It will be a good job to do with a buffing wheel on a power drill or buffer with polishing compound. It's possible to do this manually but it will be labourous.

When you do this, there is a better than average chance the finish on the original surface won't match the freshly scoured area. You'll get the best results by blending the areas boundaries. Be patient.

Good luck.

Lysol™ Toilet Bowl Cleaner is bad stuff. It must be stored in PETE Type 1 (polyethelyne terephthalate) containers to safely hold it without dissolving.

According to the Manufacturer's Safety Data Sheet, There are three hazardous ingredients.

All relevant consumer information can be found on the label of the product.
ACUTE TOXICITY (inhalation) - Category 4

The contents and concentrations are:
- sodium hypochlorite, solution 1-5% This is normal bleach
- N,N-dimethyltetradecylamine N-oxide 1-5% This stuff is a foam stabilizer to keep active ingredients in solution and active.
- sodium hydroxide 1% This is the stuff in Draino™ drain cleaner.

  • Stainless steel is not etched by sodium hydroxide in any concentration, and 1% is so weak it is not even hazardous (providing it is rinsed off immediately after contact with skin or eyes). Real drain cleaner is closer to 100% sodium hydroxide.
    – piojo
    Commented Jul 20, 2019 at 10:41

It sounds like you didn't use anything abrasive? Start by trying a powder or paste cleaner like comet or (better) barkeeper's friend. You left a film of crud on the surface, and it's not reasonable to expect it would come off with soap or the chemicals you've tried. Plus, vinegar and baking soda are so well known not because they are powerful, but because they are weak (safe enough to eat or bathe in).

If this were a chemical reaction, I would say you created a product with a strong base, so a weak base won't react with it--the strong base is happy (formed a strong bond), and it would need an equal or stronger base to take its place. Fortunately, I don't think that's what happened. I think some component of the tissue was soluble in the strongly basic water that is your cleaning product, and dissolved. As the mixture absorbed carbon dioxide from the air, some base was neutralized and the mix became less basic. The chemical came out of solution and formed a film on the surface of your sink. You need to scrape it off, or scrub it off using a strong base to dissolve. Wear gloves, use a dish scrubby, and clean it with the same product that created the problem in the first place.

And do please come back later to update your original post to say what method was successful!

  • @Lyndsey These are definitely great ideas. I don't know if you tried it yet; but, a paste made from baking soda or even toothpaste would be a mild abrasive to try before you get into the more aggressive scouring powders. Barkeepers Friend™ specifically has had many positive reviews.
    – Stan
    Commented Jul 20, 2019 at 20:13

Repeating some of what has been said[ mechanical polishing. Go to an auto store and get 600 grit Wet or Dry silicon carbide paper . If that does not remove it ,try 400 grit and follow with 600. You will not get a perfect match. There are other grits like 320,800 and 1000 ,but I am guessing 400 and 600 will give a reasonable match. I cleaned the interior of my dishwasher this way ,it looked pretty good . I have removed marks from SS refrigerator and stove , each maker seems to have their own finish. SS comes from the mill with certain specified finishes but apparently manufacturers will do some refinishing after the form/bend the SS.

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