How to Clean a Stainless Steel

Nearly everyone has plenty of stainless steel to care for in their kitchen, from appliances both large and small to cookware and sinks. Stainless steel appliances are durable and easy to maintain, but they do require regular cleaning. The key to keeping stainless steel “stainless” include proper maintenance and care because they are hardly ever stainless with you knowing how to clean a stainless steel appliance.  This is especially true if you have little ones running around the house. Fingerprints and water stains tend to decorate the surfaces of dishwashers, refrigerators and ovens.

Stainless steel is perhaps best known for its capacity to resist rust and corrosion, making it a popular choice in bathrooms and kitchens.  Its smooth, matte finish gives your kitchen a sleek and expensive appearance while its non-porous surface is resistant to bacterial growth – adding to its overall appeal. Most stainless steel appliances have a protective film and if this is scratched, it leaves the steel underneath vulnerable to damage from chemicals, water, and rough surfaces. If you’re worried about maintaining your beautiful shiny stainless steel kitchen appliances, stress not, all it takes are a few tips to remember and these hacks to keep them bright and clean!

Keeping your stainless steel appliances clean is very easy to do, and you don’t need any of those expensive cleaning products.

To clean your stainless steel appliances you have to first find the grain.

You might be surprised to learn that just like leather, stainless steel has a ‘grain’, which experts recommend you should follow when wiping or polishing your appliances. The grain runs either horizontally or vertically and has a “brushed” appearance. Finding it and rubbing or cleaning in the same direction will give your appliances extra shine.

Also Read: How to Clean Burnt Pan with Salt

What to Avoid When You Want to Clean a Stainless Steel

Avoid using these cleaning solutions:

1. Jewellery polish which contains chemicals that can be corrosive to stainless steel.

2. Any product containing chloride or chlorine bleach.

3. Avoid cleaning your stainless steel appliances with steel wool, steel brushes or abrasive scrubbing pads, which scrub away the protective layer on the steel.

What to Use to Clean a Stainless Steel

When it comes to what kind of cleaning supplies you need to get your stainless steel appliances sparkling, the list is long, but here’s a simple guide:

1. For limescale, use diluted vinegar and a soft cloth to gently wipe.

2. For adhesives like sticky tape residue, use a little mild acetone solution and wipe gently.

3. For coffee or tea deposits, use a sprinkle of baking soda, allow it to absorb the deposit, and then simply wipe away.

4. Microfiber cloths are the best since they do not scratch the surface of the appliance and absorb as much water as possible.

How to Clean a Stainless Steel

Here are 10 Ways to Clean a Stainless Steel Appliance for a Flawless Finish.

1. Dish Soap & Baby or Mineral Oil

Dish soap is amazing in cleaning grime from stainless steel. It cleans off excess oils and simplifies the polishing process. Put just a little bit on your towel and moisten with a modest amount of water (just enough to dampen your cloth). Wipe along the grain of your appliance. For optimum shine, it is best to clean with the grain. For extra stubborn fingerprints, you might have to go over the area a few times. When you finish cleaning an area, dry any water streaks with a clean towel.

Then polish. Dab a small amount of mineral or baby oil onto your second towel. A couple of tiny drops will do. Follow the grain of your steel, moving in either direction. Polishing the steel this way will produce optimal results.

For cleaning that needs a little more power, a drop of mild dish detergent and warm water can do a great job. This combination will not damage your stainless steel and it’s generally all you need to get the tougher dirt off.

You can start with a small sink of warm water and add a few drops of dish soap. Another option is to put a small drop of dish soap on a cloth. Add warm water to the cloth and rub in the dish soap to suds up your cleaning cloth. Wipe down the dirty area.

After you have washed away the dirt, rinse the surface thoroughly to prevent staining and spotting. Don’t forget to towel dry to prevent water spots.

2. White Vinegar & Olive Oil

Apply white vinegar directly to a microfiber cloth, or spray down your stainless-steel appliance.  The vinegar helps break up any residual grease left from fingertips or cooking on the surface. Let sit for just a moment, and then wipe clean with a microfiber cloth in the direction of the grain. This will add some deep shine to your appliance and remove any remaining streaks or marks.

Apply the vinegar as many times as necessary to remove any grime. Once clean, dip your cloth into a small amount of olive oil and polish the freshly-cleaned surface in the direction of the grain. If any extra olive oil residue remains, wipe away with a clean cloth.

This method works well because the vinegar gets rid of all the grime, while the olive oil gives it a fresh, shiny polish.

3. Club Soda

Add club soda to a clean spray bottle. Spray club soda directly onto your stainless steel appliances and then wipe clean with a soft, microfiber cloth in the direction of the grain. Not only will this help clean the surface of fingerprints and food residue, it will also give it a nice shine.

Spraying the surface with club soda proved as effective as a cleaning method as dish detergent. However, it might leave streaks that you will have to polish with a bit of oil.

4. Lemon Oil Furniture Polish

Apply a bit of lemon oil furniture polish to a microfiber cloth and rub on your appliance. Once you have evenly applied, wipe clean with a different microfiber cloth towel. Apply the furniture polish directly to a microfiber cloth not to the stainless steel surface, as it may not be applied evenly leaving you with more work trying to clean off the excess.

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5. Glass Cleaner for Fingerprints

Fingerprints are the chief complaint about stainless steel. This is especially true for all the parents out there. However, they can be easily removed with any common glass cleaner or household ammonia.

Spray the cleaner on a microfiber cloth and wipe the area gently in a circular motion to remove the fingerprint. Repeat as needed. be sure to rinse thoroughly and towel dry. It’s often best to spray whichever cleaner you’re using onto a microfiber cloth. It’s not recommended that you spray directly to your appliance, as you may end up with more drip marks and splatter residue, or waste cleaner unnecessarily.

There are some newer types of stainless steel finishes that resist fingerprints. This might be something to consider if your pint-sized helpers tend to leave their mark everywhere.

6. Bon Ami, Flour Sack & Wax Paper

Dampen a small section of a soft flour sack and sprinkle the moistened area with Bon Ami. Rub it onto your stainless steel in circular strokes, covering the entire surface. Then dampen another small section of your flour sack and wipe the stainless steel surface clean, rubbing in the direction of the grain.

Take a clean part of the flour sack and dry the surface. Lastly, take a piece of wax paper and rub the waxy side over the whole surface of your appliance. The wax paper prevents smudges and fingerprints for a little while and helps remove deep-set stains without leaving streaks behind.

7. Flour

Use this method especially for your sink, or perhaps your pots and pans, to prevent creating a greater mess.

Clean the sink thoroughly to remove any dirt, grease or grime that may be caked on. Once it has dried, cover it in flour. Feel free to use as much flour as you’d like. Next, take a soft cloth and, in a circular motion, wipe clean the sink and it will start to shine like new.

8. Commercial Stainless Steel Cleaners

If your stainless steel appliances have stains that are difficult to remove or scratches on the surface, a stainless steel cleaner may be a good option, but also likely the most expensive. Some of these cleaners can help minimize scratching and remove stains. They can also polish surfaces to a beautiful, long-lasting shine. Make sure to read the directions on the cleaner and test in an inconspicuous spot before covering the entire surface of your appliance with it. When you’re done, be sure to rinse the area thoroughly and towel dry.

9. Warm Water and a Cloth

Warm water and a cloth will be sufficient for routine cleaning. This is the least risky option for cleaning stainless steel. Plain water works to clean the majority of situations. Dry with a towel or cloth to prevent water spots. This is very important because minerals in water can leave marks on stainless steel.

For best results, wipe in the directions of the polish lines. Microfiber cleaning cloths are a great option to use when polishing stainless steel because they will absorb all the water and without scratching the surface. You can buy special polishing cloths which are finer than normal microfiber to give your appliances a final polish. The majority of the smudges will likely vanish without the need for special supplies or chemicals.

10. Baking Soda

By far the messiest and most time-consuming trick was making a paste out of baking soda and water, but—hands down—it did the best job.  However, because you rub small sections of the surface with the paste and a cloth, bits of that paste might fall to the floor. Baking soda also leaves a white residue behind, which you have to remove with a damp cloth before you can polish with your microfiber cloth.

I don’t recommend this method for cleaning the entirety of stainless steel appliances, but for those stubborn or hard-to-reach spots (like under the handles), baking soda is the way to go. A little paste goes a long way, and you barely need any pressure when wiping.

Shine it Up!

While scratch-removal is often best left to the experts, small scratches can often be removed with a simple home remedy – simply apply a thin layer of toothpaste to the small scratches and buff gently with a toothbrush. This gets off superficial and small surface scratches like a charm.

If you want your appliances to shine, a neat trick would be simply to apply a few drops of olive oil before wiping your stainless steel appliances down with a cloth. This gives it a great deep shine that will complete your kitchen’s modern, sleek look.


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