What is the best way to care for your portable sink?
We get a lot of questions about how to care about a portable sink once you purchase one. Learning about how to maintain a portable hand washing sink may also be useful for those interested in purchasing a portable hand washing station. That way, you are ready to care for it once you decide which sink is right for your situation.
We have several different manufacturers and for specific information, please read the manual specific to your sink. In this post we will cover some basic care for all sinks and top tips for keeping your sink running well and maintaining safe and healthy water for those who use it.
Since a portable sink has tanks, specialized tubing, a pump and often a heater, it differs from the care of a typical plumbed sink. In addition to keeping the basin and counter clean and sanitized, you need to make sure you maintain the tanks and other components so your portable sink can be used for years to come.
Let’s begin with some helpful tips before we get started with cleaning and portable sink maintenance.
Keep these helpful tips in mind:
- Water Matters- Extremely hard water or heavy mineral content will cause excessive scale build-up in your heater or faucet and may render your portable sink inoperable. If you live in an area with hard water, you may need to use filtered water to operate your sink. Please check with your manufacturer for help if this is an issue in your area.
- Avoid Freezing Temps- Protect your sink from freezing temperatures to make sure you don’t damage the components. If you have an outdoor portable sink, bring it on when low temperatures are predicted. Ozark River recommends avoiding storing your sink in temps below 45° and doing so may void your warranty.
- Keep Your Sink Dry- Sounds funny for a source of water but it’s true. Place your sink in a dry area. Keep standing water away from the power cord to avoid electrical shock. Wipe up spilled water quickly to stay safe. Unplug the sink when not in use and in case of thunderstorms.
- Have a Dedicated Outlet-This is really an operating tip but it’s worth repeating here as well. Make sure your sink is plugged into a 110 volt outlet that is not shared with anything else. Read all the warnings on the manual that comes with your sink to make sure you follow safety procedures and avoid electrical shock.
Daily Cleaning and Maintenance for your Portable Sink:
1. Wipe down sink basin, counter and faucet.
When wiping down your portable sink daily, make sure to use non-abrasive cleaners and a soft cloth. Dry all surfaces promptly. Never use bleach to clean an Ozark River portable sink since it can severely damage the components.
2. Check Tanks Often
Empty the waste water tank before it gets completely full to ensure it does not overflow. Make sure the Fresh water tank does not completely empty while unit is running. This can damage the pump.
3. Turn Off Sink and Leave Faucets Open
At the end of the day, make sure to turn off your portable sink and leave the faucet or faucets (some come with separate hot and cold handles) in the open position. This will relieve water pressure and help maintain your pump. When you want to use the sink again the next day, move the faucets to the closed position and turn the unit back on.
4. Remove Any Debris from Strainer
If your sink has a strainer in the drain, make sure to remove any debris form this area at the end of the day. Keep the drain clean so it does not build up and impact the flow of water.
5. Wipe Damp or Wet Cabinet Immediately
The sink cabinet of your hand washing station is water-resistant but not meant to stay wet. Keep cabinet free from all water spillage by wiping up all spilled water immediately.
Do These Things Weekly to Maintain Your Portable Sink:
1. Clean the Tanks
Portable sinks come with two separate tanks— one for clean water and one for waste water. Both tanks should be cleaned out weekly to keep your portable sink running properly. Depending on the brand, you will do this with either Steramine® (for Ozark) or a mixture of 10% bleach, 90% water. Check with your operating manual for specific recommendations from the manufacturer. Ozark River recommends using Steramine Cleaner and never using bleach in their sinks. We sell Streramine® kits and refills here if you need it. Monsam and Jonti-Craft recommend using a small amount of bleach mixed with water to clean your tanks weekly and Please see the specific instructions for your sink and check with your local health codes.
2. Remove and Clean the Sink Aerator
What is a sink aerator? It is the little part at the end of your faucet that adds air to reduce water flow. (see pic below for an example). This is often an area you forget to wipe down when cleaning the sink so wipe down the outside daily and remove and clean the aerator weekly or bi-weekly to make sure debris does not build up, slowing the water flow or adding unwanted particles to your water.
Sink Aerator as shown on an Ozark River sink
3. Clean the Filter
Jonti-Craft Clean Hands Helper portable sinks come with filters and other brands also have units with filters. In the Jonti-Craft portable sink, the filter is attached to the tubing near the lid of the clean water tank. Replace the filter as needed. When replacing a Jonti-Craft Clean Hands Helper Portable sinks filter you use a DMfit #ADMF-100FS replacement, purchased at online retailers. Jonti-Craft does not currently carry the replacement. Again, check your manual for specific instructions.
4. Inspect Tank Connectors
As you are changing out your tanks, stop and inspect the hose connections for any cracks, damage or wear of the o-rings or tubing. If you do this regularly you can catch an issue and re-order a part from the manufacturer before it damages your sink or causes an issue with your sink use.
5. Clean Cabinet
You may want to wipe the outside of your cabinet down weekly to maintain it’s finish. If it is wood based, you will want to use a furniture cleaner like end dust. For other materials, use a damp soft cloth and dry immediately.
Monthly or Bi-Monthly Maintenance for Your Portable Sink
Check electric plugs monthly to make sure there are no signs of fraying or wear. Make sure prongs are not bent or damaged and do not use a two prong adapter for a 3 pronged plug. Make sure the outlet is not cracked or damaged. Have the plug replaced if there is any visible damage on prongs or cord.
2. Clean Internal Parts and Pump System
Again, every manufacturer slightly differs on this procedure but they all recommend regular cleaning of the system. As stated above, NEVER use bleach with an Ozark River portable sink. Monsam recommends running a mixture of water, automatic dish soap and bleach through the pump system to sterilize it. Jonti-Craft recommends a 10% bleach solution. Both Monsam and Jonti-Craft recommend following this by running clean water through the system to wash all bleach out after sterilizing.
For the Ozark River sinks, sanitize your system monthly. We sell Steramine® quaternary sanitizer which is their recommended cleaner for the drain and hot water system. Our Steramine® Quaternary Sanitizer keeps the inside plumbing of the tank clean, sanitized, and odor free. Mix once and use, unlike chlorine solutions that have to be mixed every day. Never use bleach to clean an Ozark River portable sink!
If you have any questions about how to maintain your sink, check with your sink manual or reach out to your manufacturer. Each sink comes with a trouble shooting guide so be sure to check those suggestions first when an issue arises.
By following these maintenance procedures and tips, you should be able to have a well operating portable hand washing station for years to come.