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Metal finishing Q&As since 1989


Silver polish (Tarn-X) stained my stainless steel sink

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Q. What will take Tarn-X stains off a stainless sink?

Lc crosby
- Sparks Nevada
August 15, 2022

A. Hi Lc. Welcome to the club :-)
People have been offering their solutions to that problem on this page for years now:
• Start simple with toothpaste;
• If it doesn't seem to be working, then move on to a cleaner/cleanser like Barkeepers Friend [this product on eBay or Amazon affil links] ;
• If that's still not enough you'll need an abrasive kit like Scratch-B-Gone [a supporting advertiser] .

Luck & Regards,

pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Striving to live Aloha - Pine Beach, New Jersey

thumbs up sign We just installed a beautiful stainless steel sink a few weeks ago.
In my effort to clean some other metal, I spilled some Tarn-x in the sink.
I am so very thankful for seeing your posts here ... I tried toothpaste and with about 10 minutes of light scrubbing, with the grain, as suggested, it came out!
I Hope this message gets read or is useful to someone.

Jacquie Vegh
- Myrtle Beach South Carolina
July 13, 2023

Cameo Aluminum & Stainless Cleaner
on eBay or


(affil links)

A. I too spilled and left the rag of Tarn-X on my stainless steel sink. It sat on there for at least 24 hrs. I washed the sink with Bar Keepers and it didn't come off. That is when I googled it and came to this site. I tried the toothpaste and nothing. Then I remembered my fav ... Cameo [this product on eBay or Amazon affil links]
sold at Walmart. Came off great! It is really the best cleaner for stainless ... it just got pushed to the back of the cabinet. It's now in front!

Addie Slade
- Prescott, Arizona
September 4, 2023

A. So the common thread here for all the products mentioned (yes, even toothpaste) is the presence of abrasives.

When we talk about stains on non-porous materials, sometimes it's a residue sitting on top of the surface that can be "cleaned" off, but more often we are talking about something that etched or ate into the surface, creating an area that is less smooth than the original surface. That's something you can only fix by polishing (a wood carpenter would call it "sanding") it smooth again.

As with wood and sandpaper, metal polishes exist in different grit sizes, though of course commercial products tend not to indicate what grit size they contain, other than a few kits which explicitly contain multiple grit sizes.

If one abrasive "works" while another does not, it is likely that either 1) the one that didn't work was too small a grit size and used for an insufficient amount of time, or 2) the one that didn't work was a material of lower hardness than the surface you were using it on, and therefore unable to scratch it.

ray kremer
Ray Kremer
Stellar Solutions, Inc.
supporting advertiser
McHenry, Illinois
stellar solutions banner

thumbs up sign Thank you so much Ray. I was happy to find this whole Website, as I couldn't imagine anyone to be as stupid as me and actually do this!

I particularly liked your wood reference, as I spent a lot of years doing French Polishing, and understand exactly what you mean. Thank you for writing such an informative article.
Now I will just have to see what hopefully works for me.

Carmel Stewart
- Townsville.Queensland 4810 Australia
April 22, 2024

⇩ Related postings, oldest first ⇩

Q. I spilled silver polish in my stainless steel sink and did not realize it until sometime later.
Is there a way to get the stains out?

The silver cleaner spilled in the sink was TarnX.


Faith O'Kelley
- Asheville, North Carolina

BarrysRestoreItAll manufactures an easy to use kit, called Scratch-B-Gone for the remediation of Stainless steel and quick removal of scratch, stain, chemical burn and rust from all surfaces of real Stainless steel appliances, sinks, and grills. Give us a call, No Worries...

Barry Feinman
Barry Feinman
supporting advertiser
Carlsbad, California

thumbs up signThe product worked! Thank you so much.

Faith O'Kelley - Asheville, North Carolina

Q. A cleaner, brand name Tarn-x, was wiped on the stove and left on. Later, the stove was wiped down after seeing various dark streaks and circles on what appear to have been former food spills and Tarn-x residue. The stove was washed down with soap and water; next I used Wrights Silver Cream [this product on eBay or Amazon affil links] and it took the stove back to where it's original color was except for the heaviest of the streaks and dark colorations. What can I do to bring the entire stove back to its original Stainless Steel color?

Gwendolyn Doggett
- Camp Springs, Maryland
July 28, 2008

Q. I have dark grey stains on my stainless sink from Tarn-x I have scrubbed with everything. Any help out there would be great.

Kathy Lennon
Artist - Oshkosh Wisconsin
April 6, 2009

A. I too got Tarn-x on my new kitchen sinks. After coming to this site, I remembered that to sell my other house, I used car polish to clean and polish the old sinks. I signed off and tried it. It took three applications, but there are no remaining black marks. I had used Mequiar's metal polish [this product on eBay or Amazon affil links] at the old house. Today, I used some polish my friend put in a bottle for me last year, so, sorry about not knowing the name. Put some on a rag and rub hard. Let it dry and rub hard again. Repeat until gone. Your rag turns black and your sinks return to their original color. My sink seemed to have deeper brush groves around the top and that area took the most rubbing -- but all the stains came off.

Laurel Zigler
- Ontario, Oregon USA
March 28, 2011

Q. I was cleaning my silver cutlery and some of the silver cleaning liquid got onto the stainless steel sink and has left marks as though the steel has been bleached. Any ideas of how to remove the marks please?

Rita Shah
- London, England
January 17, 2012

A. Hi, Rita. As you see, we added your posting to a thread that already addresses this subject and offers potential solutions.
Hopefully other readers will avoid problems by recognizing that silver polish can stain stainless steel. Good luck.

Ted Mooney,
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Striving to live Aloha - Pine Beach, New Jersey

Q. I left a rag full of Tarn-x in my brand new, of one week, stainless steel sink over night. It now has a black mark on it; how do I remove this stain? I'm sick about it; the sink is one week old. Thanks for your help.

Evelyne Hadida
- Montreal, Quebec, Canada
June 4, 2012

A. After reading all the advice about cleaning my Tarn-x stain in my stainless steel, I got home and wiped the sink with Barkeepers Friend and to my surprise I was able to get rid of the stain 98%. You can hardly see the mess that I had. So, thanks to everyone who told me about the Barkeeper's friend; it's just too bad this product is not easily available in Montreal. I was lucky that I had bought some in Florida last time I was there; this product is great and I'll be cleaning my stainless sink with it from now on.
Once again, thanks.

Evelyne Hadida [returning]
- Montreal, Quebec, Canada

thumbs up signThanks everyone for the posts. My Google search brought me here and Barkeeper's Friend worked! phew. :-)
For anyone in Montreal: I have seen Barkeeper's friend [this product on eBay or Amazon affil links] at Ares and at William's Sonoma.

Lori Goodfellow
- Toronto, Ontario, Canada
October 4, 2014

Q. Where can I get Barkeepers Friend? I live in Florida.
pal simmons
- Hernando, Florida USA
May 20, 2015

A. Hi Pal. I'd assume it's available at some supermarkets and hardware stores, and there's always Amazon and eBay [this product on eBay or Amazon affil links] .


Ted Mooney,
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Striving to live Aloha - Pine Beach, New Jersey

Silver Polish Ruined Stainless Steel Serving Set

Q. A house cleaner is believed to have used Weiman silver polish on a stainless steel salad serving set that we had received as a wedding gift. The result of the "cleaning" is that what was once a lustrous shine is now almost entirely dull, with large patches of greenish-darkened metal, and a few places where there is now copper-colored metal. I do not understand metallurgy sufficiently to know if one metal was plated over another, and now the underlying metal is now exposed, or if the discoloring is the result of some type of oxide on the metal. Some suggested cleaning materials (including vinegar [in bulk on eBay or Amazon affil links] , stainless steel cleaner, Barkeepers Friend [this product on eBay or Amazon affil links] ) have been used, but with no effect. I would like to know, first, what happened; and second, is there any practicable restorative course of action available (e.g., cleaning product, plating)?


Lawrence Hughes
- Flushing, New York
January 1, 2015

A. Hi Lawrence, sorry for your troubles. "Patches of greenish-darkened" and "copper-colored" and "one metal plated over another" aren't typical observations of stainless steel behavior. Does the set say is is stainless steel? It sounds like either it was silver plated and Weiman silver polish was appropriate. I hate to mention this while you're still suffering the loss of a wedding gift, but for plating to wear away is unfortunately a normal thing if you're talking about something old. More likely it was plated with something that Weiman's does attack.


Ted Mooney,
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Striving to live Aloha - Pine Beach, New Jersey

Q. Ted: The serving set looked like stainless steel, and my understanding that stainless steel is the most common material for flatware. Beyond that, I don't know what else the metal could be. The serving set came in a gift box, not a manufacturer's box, and no labels. The set is certainly not silver. What other metal could have been used? Is there an easy test to determine? (Sorry for the delayed response; time got away from me.)

Lawrence Hughes [returning]
- Flushing, New York

A. Hi again Lawrence. Stainless steel is rarely plated, especially for serving sets. Rather, it's the same material through and through (an alloy of steel, chromium, sometimes nickel, plus very small amounts of other stuff).

What you're describing sounds like the set is made of brass or nickel-silver and was copper-nickel-chromium plated. I'm surprised that silver polish would destroy the plating -- but I guess it did, exposing patches of brass or an underlayer of copper plating. It can be replated, but probably not affordably. Replacement would probably be cheaper.


Ted Mooney,
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Striving to live Aloha - Pine Beach, New Jersey

Q. My grandma said I stained her stainless steel sink. I have no idea what happened but nothing cleans it. It is a large gray stain. Can you tell me what it is or how to repair it? Thanks,


alex fulton
student - chicago, Illinois, USA
April 10, 2015

A. For anyone who has stained their sink with the silver cleaner tarn-x, a product called Barkeepers Friend [this product on eBay or Amazon affil links] will remove the stain! My sink was 2 weeks old and I tried lemon juice and baking soda and white vinegar. Those worked a little with two hours of scrubbing. I ordered Barkeepers Friend on Amazon and used it on the stain. It took the whole stain out. If you are searching the web for any cleaner that really works on a stainless steel sink, this is it. Remember to always rub in the direction of the grain. I used a soft cloth to run the cleaner in. I used the powder formula. Hope this helps. There's hope!

Danna Hawkins
- Birmingham, Alabama usa
June 12, 2016

thumbs up sign Thank you so much. It worked!

Mikee Marias
- Aurora, Colorado
April 22, 2024

A. To Alex Fulton's question:

Not sure if I have the same thing, but from your photo it looks very similar. I also am not sure how mine came about, but what worked for me was toothpaste! I left a reasonably thick layer on for 5-10 minutes then used a 'stainless steel scourer, and scrubbed scrubbed it all off!

Hope that helps you out!

Zeina Farah
February 24, 2017
- Athens, Greece

thumbs up sign  Thank you so much! My nephew was using Tarn-x and spilled it down the front of my stainless steel dishwasher front creating long black drip marks. It about killed me to see it. I did not want to mention it to him because he was living with me after losing his home to the fire storm this past Fall in California. I used my Barkeeper's Friend liquid soft cleanser [this product on eBay or Amazon affil links] and scrubbed like crazy and it came off! BKF saved the day!

Darling Rubin
- Santa Rosa, California USA
November 26, 2017

Q. Can anyone give me the directions for using [adv: discontinued item on eBay or Amazon affil links] ? The bottle I have has most of the directions rubbed off & I just have a few really bad places on a silver trophy I've been cleaning with Wrights Silver Cream [this product on eBay or Amazon affil links] which has been working wonderfully. It's too big to dip it into a bowl but I can't even read how to apply it.

Ms Denny Wright
- Corpus Christi, Texas USA
December 3, 2017

A. Hi Denny. Courtesy of Horizons for the Blind, the Tarn-X directions are available at
Updated to:


pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Striving to live Aloha - Pine Beach, New Jersey

Q. Hi hoping you can help. My husband was soaking an object in CLR and some splashed and he didn't realize it so the CLR probably sat on the surface of our brushed stainless steel sink for 15-20 hrs.

38061-3b   38061-3a  

I see lots of solutions for smooth sinks but nothing for brushed steel.

Joanne McCloskey
- Windsor, Ontario. Canada
March 16, 2018

A. Hi Joanne. If a mild polish is unable to remove the discoloration, you may need an abrasive kit like Scratch-B-Gone [a supporting advertiser] (see topic 24168 for example), but blending scratches is harder work to do right than trying Barkeeper's Friend, rubbing in the direction of the grain, as Danna H. suggests above. Good luck.


pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Striving to live Aloha - Pine Beach, New Jersey

Q. I have the same problem with my stainless steel sink too and I was just looking at Barkeepers Friend on Amazon UK but there are several varieties to choose from.
Which one is best for this situation?

- Worcester, UK
April 18, 2018

Barkeeper's Friend
on eBay or


(affil links)

A. Hi Sharon. Arrgh! -- all manufacturers seem to do this to us: as soon as they see one of their trade names catching on, they slap that trade name onto every product they make, causing massive confusion :-(

But people are talking about the powdered cleanser polisher, and the container even says "Stainless Steel" up near the top (at least here in America) ⇨


pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Striving to live Aloha - Pine Beach, New Jersey

A. Another product that I use to polish my sink (as well as cleaning toilets, tubs, showers stalls, glass top stove tops, cast iron stove grates and grill racks, white sneaker soles) is Bon Ami [this product on eBay or Amazon affil links] . I believe it is similar to Barkeepers Friend )

Debbra Fiebert
- Roslyn, New York, USA
March 9, 2019

A. Same thing happened to me. Was cleaning silverware in stainless steel sink (only two months old!) and rinsed to find hideous stains on sink. Tried stainless steel cleaner, household cleaners. Nothing worked. Don't know what made me try TOOTHPASTE, except that I've used it on jewelry in the past. Worked like a charm. Made have to apply it a couple of times and rub it in, but it really works!

Delilah Hopkins
- Scarsdale, New York, USA
June 19, 2019

Q. Hello. I too put jewelry cleaner in a stainless steel sink and it left discoloration. Does Scratch-B-Gone remove those? They are not scratches.

Carol Mison
- Sturbridge, Massachusetts
April 11, 2022

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