How to Clean, Remove, and Reapply Caulk Around a Kitchen or Bathroom Sink

When your kitchen or bathroom sink was installed, a bead of caulk was likely applied around its perimeter to seal off any gaps and protect against leaks. When properly applied, caulk can last for many years—but there will likely come a time when the caulk begins to crack and break down. At this time, it will need to be removed and replaced. 

Fortunately, this is a job you can complete yourself relatively easily; all you need is the right tools and a bit of patience. 

Removing Existing Caulk

To remove caulk around a kitchen or bathroom sink, you’ll need a few basic materials: 

  • WarmWater 
  • Acetone 
  • DenaturedAlcohol 
  • Straight Razor Blade 
  • Painters‘ Tool 
  • Paper and/or Towels 
  • Cardboard, a Towel, or Drop Cloths for Surface Protection 

For water-based caulks, begin by soaking a towel or washcloth with warm water. Then, apply the warm water to the existing caulk. This process will serve to soften the caulk and make it easier to remove. For a silicone-based caulk, do the same thing but with acetone or denatured alcohol for better results. 

Once the caulk is softened, carefully use the straight razor to cut away and remove the worn caulk. Exercise caution when using a razor around certain surfaces. Whereas a porcelain sink can withstand pressure from a razor blade, a stainless steel or metal sink could be damaged. 

The process of removing old caulk can be time-consuming and will require some patience, but it’s important to be thorough in removing all old caulk. Doing so will ensure proper adhesion of the new caulk for a better seal. 

Applying New Caulk

Before applying any new caulk, make sure you’re choosing the right kind. For a stainless or metal sink (such as those commonly found in kitchens), you’ll want to use a silicone-based caulk. For a porcelain sink (more common in bathroom spaces), a latex-based caulk will be a better fit. 

When choosing caulk, it’s also important to select a color that will best suit the space. Many silicone caulks are available in a clear finish but depending on the color of the sink and countertops, you may also want to consider a white, black, gray, tan, or almond color. Ultimately, the goal is for the caulk to blend in with its surroundings as much as possible.  

To apply new caulk, cut a small piece off the tip of the caulk tube. For the most even results, it is recommended that you apply using a caulk gun. Once a strip is applied, you can either use a caulking/painters’ tool or your finger to carefully spread the caulk around the perimeter of the sink. This will help to create a water-proof barrier between the sink and the counter. When applying new caulk, do your best to limit the amount of exposure; people don’t like to be able to see caulk sealant, so a good application job should be barely noticeable.

When applying a silicone-based caulk, limit the amount of material to be exposed to the surface of the counter, as it will clog or seal pores and produce an uneven appearance when wet. The best way to limit the exposure is to apply painter’s tape along the edge before you begin. 

Once the new caulk is applied, allow it to sit and dry for the amount of time recommended by the manufacturer. It is generally best to avoid using the sink for at least 24 hours to allow for proper drying time. 

How to Clean Existing Caulk

Regularly cleaning caulk around your kitchen and bathroom sink can stop water damage and leaks and can prevent molding from occurring. If you have silicone-based caulk, every few months you will want to create a vinegar and water solution, spray down the area you want to clean, and scrub with a brush. If you have a bigger more frustrating stain, leave the vinegar solution on the area for about 10 minutes before scrubbing with a soft brush.  

When to Hire a Professional

Removing old caulk and applying new caulk is an important part of protecting your bathroom or kitchen from water leaks, so be sure to stay on top of this home maintenance task. If you’re still not comfortable removing and replacing the caulk around your sink, you can always hire a professional, like Connecticut Stone, to take care of this job for you. We even offer an annual maintenance program to help clients clean and care for their stone. If you have questions or want to get started reapplying or replacing the caulk in your bathroom or kitchen, contact our team today! 

For more information on our annual maintenance program and the service level offeringsreach out to  

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