How to Clean Stainless Steel

Clean Kitchen with Stainless Steel Appliances.

How to Clean Stainless Steel Appliances

Stainless steel has been around for a long time and it’s a very popular finish for many kitchen appliances.

Of course, many of us have had stainless steel sinks for a long time and that’s because when cared for correctly, stainless steel resists rust and corrosion.

Nowadays, you can hardly get away from stainless steel appliances, gadgets and pots and pans, that’s how popular they’ve become over the years. Stainless steel might cost you a bit more – and I don’t know if they make you cook any better – but I got to say, they sure make a kitchen look great.

So, what are the best ways to clean stainless steel? Well, the single best way is to get somebody else to clean it. But barring that solution, how about trying one of the methods listed below?

Removing Fingerprints

There are some stainless steel appliances that are more frequently used and will get fingerprints all over them – like the toaster and the refrigerator, it’s probably one of the top complaints we hear about from our clients.

Luckily, there are a couple household products you probably already have in the kitchen to clean those fingerprint streaks away.

White Vinegar

Add a small amount of white vinegar to a soft, clean cloth and wipe the surface. Add more vinegar to the cloth as needed, you won’t need a lot though. Fingerprints are gone with just a little elbow grease.

Baby Oil

You can also use baby oil instead of the white vinegar to remove fingerprints and smudges. Use in the same manner as the vinegar but when you’re done, buff the surface with a clean, soft cloth.

Routine Cleaning

Good ole warm water works well for routine cleanings of stainless steel. If you’re not home much, you may not use your appliances as often, a slight amount of dust might cover the surface from time to time.

If this is the case, a little warm water on a soft cleaning cloth will clean it right up again. Dry with another soft cloth to prevent water spots.

Cleaning Oily, Greasy Messes from Stainless Steel Using Dishwashing Liquid

At some point it’s guaranteed you’re going to get something on your stainless steel appliance that just isn’t going to come off with warm water – like something oily or greasy. It can be frustrating because the warm water will only spread the grease around!

When this is the case, add a few drops of Dawn dishwashing liquid to a sponge wet with warm water. Squeeze the sponge to create suds and clean, repeat if necessary.

Make sure to rinse and wipe the surface when you’re done so no soapy residue remains. If you skip this step and let the soap air dry, you’re liable to see a water-spotted surface.

Commercial Stainless-Steel Cleaners

You can buy cleaners made for stainless steel which usually come in the form of a paste, liquid or foam cleaner. They cost more than the solutions above but sometimes you need a little more power than soap and water. Follow the directions on the packaging for best results.

Heavy Duty Cleaning

If you really get something cruddy on your appliance, you can use a no scratch nylon scouring pad on stainless steel without harming the finish. I make sure to keep mine a little wet while scrubbing and I don’t scrub with a powerful force either.

Softening Hard Clumps of Gunk

If there are hard clumps of gunk, try to soften them prior to cleaning. By softening the particles, you are lessening the risk of scratching or scuffing the surface. To do this you can soak a paper towel in warm water and place it over the gunk. Let sit a while, you may need to soak the paper towel again.

You can also add a drop of Dawn dishwashing liquid and rub it over the gunk, then place the wet paper towel over that.

Always work with the grain when you have a little extra scrubbing to do to avoid scratches.

Cleaning Stubborn Stains from a Stainless Steel Sink

First, rinse the sink of any loose grime so damage doesn’t happen by rubbing grit over the surface.

To clean stubborn stains from the sink, make a paste of baking soda (which is slightly abrasive) and water. The consistency should be something similar to toothpaste.

Rub in the direction of the grain, applying a little pressure if necessary (brute force not required). Completely rinse when finished.

If you notice any stains remaining, you can try straight Bar Keepers Friend.

Keeping Stainless Steel Clean

A little baby oil on a paper towel will shine up your stainless-steel appliances and keep them looking like new. Buff with a clean soft cloth for a great finish.

Stainless Steel Precautions

Stainless steel is an awesome product but you do need to know a few things to keep it looking great for years to come.

Stainless steel is covered in a thin layer of oxidation that helps it be stain resistant and free of rust. If this layer of oxidation is damaged, the surface is no longer protected and rust and corrosion can happen.

Here’s a little snippet from GE about the protective layer on stainless steel:

“ The chromium in stainless steel when exposed to oxygen in the atmosphere forms a thin invisible layer called chromium oxide. This invisible layer covering the entire surface gives stainless steel its ability to resist stains and rust. If this layer is damaged rust is formed on the surface at the point of that damage. The good news is, with a little cleaning and care the chromium oxide layer is self-healing. “

  1. Do not use harsh abrasives.
  2. Do not use steel wool.
  3. Do not use anything highly abrasive, especially on brushed stainless.
  4. Do not use chlorine bleach.
  5. Rub in the direction of the grain.
  6. Clean stainless steel when it has cooled down.
  7. Clean spills sooner rather than later.
  8. Do follow the care instructions from the owner’s manual.

Stainless steel appliances can be a little bit of a hassle to keep clean, but if you know what you’re doing, it’s really not so bad. And stainless steel does make a kitchen look clean and modern, doesn’t it?