Stainless steel cookware and appliances are great for the home. They have an up-to-date aesthetic, are incredibly long-lasting, and may even raise the value of your home.
However, because they last so long, you must know how to clean stainless steel properly to keep its sleek and shiny appearance. There are countless products on the market and DIY cleaning solutions available, and it is often difficult to tell what will work.
For this reason, we created this article with information and tips on how to clean stainless steel.
Table of Contents
What Is the Best Way to Clean Stainless Steel?
Before we discuss how to clean stainless steel appliances, we should discuss stainless steel. This material is commonly used for things found all around the home.
You can find stainless steel in the framework of furniture, cutlery, pots, kitchen surfaces, and your kitchen sink. It is resistant to corrosion and often needs very little maintenance. This is thanks to the thin surface layer that protects the material.
It prevents rust from infiltrating the surface and makes stainless steel hygienic. However, dirt and bacteria can still accumulate on the surface, weakening the protective coating.
This is why proper maintenance and knowing when to clean your appliances are essential.
Steps to Stainless Steel Cleaning
How you clean stainless steel and what you use depends on the initial condition of the steel.
Let’s take a closer look at how to clean stainless steel.
Exterior surfaces, like outdoor furniture, fencing, and sculptures, generally don’t need much cleaning. The rain is usually enough to wash off any dust or dirt that accumulates on it. Depending on where you live, the stainless steel may be exposed to other elements that require special cleaning.
For example, suppose you live close to the ocean. In that case, the sea spray could cause large amounts of salt to accumulate on the stainless steel, leaving it vulnerable to rust.
Exterior surfaces can be cleaned with a moist towel and some mild dish detergent. To clean the stainless steel surfaces, combine the detergent with clean water and wipe them down. Rinse your cloth with clean water to prevent dirt from spreading.
If the exterior stainless steel surface has large amounts of stubborn dirt, you will need more than a bit of elbow grease. You can use non-abrasive nylon pads that help take off more dirt than a microfiber cloth. However, you should never use any abrasive brushes or scourers.
When you clean metal, following the grain pattern is vital, so you don’t scratch it. When you are done, you can wipe the entire surface with a dry cloth to prevent any water marks from forming.
If you have stainless steel counters, wiping them regularly with a microfiber cloth and dish soap is all you need to keep them clean. If there is a grain pattern, you want to follow the metal’s grain to prevent scratches.
After cleaning, dry the entire surface with a clean cloth to avoid wet spots.
If you come across stubborn grease or oil marks, you can clean them off with a cloth and some alcohol or acetone. As these solvents are flammable, you want to ensure that you clean the surface with care and that you are not anywhere near an open flame.
Kitchen Sink, Cookware, and Utensils
Cleaning kitchen sinks and cookware is a bit different from cleaning kitchen surfaces. First, you can scrub these things in a circular motion to eliminate any dirt or food stuck.
You can also clean these stainless steel items with more powerful cleaners and hot water. They are exposed to higher temperatures, and you want to be able to dissolve grease that remains on the surface.
White vinegar can also clean stainless steel and break down tough dirt. You can put the distilled white vinegar into a spray bottle and spray it onto the stainless steel before wiping it down with a clean microfiber cloth.
Just make sure to use only scourers that are rough enough to avoid deep scratches. Also, wipe them dry as soon as you’re done to prevent water spots.
We love cleaning with vinegar so much we created 50+ Uses for Vinegar – Home, office, car, garden, beauty, health, and pets
What Should You Not Do When Cleaning Stainless Steel?
Knowing what to avoid doing when cleaning stainless steel is just as important as knowing how to do it. Your stainless steel surfaces will remain clean and shiny for a more extended period if you don’t use certain things.
some potential pitfalls:
- Do not use metallic scourers, steel wool, or any other harsh abrasives
- Avoid silver or brass cleaners
- Do not use bleach or ammonia
- Abrasive scouring powders
- Scrub in the grain direction of the metal
- Not wiping the surface dry after cleaning
- Not cleaning stainless steel for a long time
The last point is one that you should remember. Cleaning stainless steel regularly is better than intensive cleaning once in a while. It will also maintain the clarity of the protective coating, maximizing its effectiveness.
The substance you use to clean stainless steel should be safe for the material. Stick with a microfiber cloth, water, and dish soap if you need help deciding what to use.
How Do You Clean Stainless Steel Appliances?
Stainless steel kitchen appliances are all the rage nowadays. People want them for their modern aesthetic and because they are known to last longer than other appliances.
However, they are susceptible to fingerprints, smudges, and water stains. These should be addressed as they crop up.
This section will tell you how to clean stainless steel appliances so they stay clean and keep their perfect shine.
What to Use on Stainless Steel Appliances
There are many different methods and cleaning products for stainless steel appliances. Some products are recommended by appliance manufacturers, while others are simple cleaning hacks that use everyday household items.
No matter which one you choose, clean it the way it says to for the best results. Before cleaning the whole appliance, you can also test a small area first to ensure you like the results.
Cleaning Solutions for Stainless Steel Appliances
Besides general cleaning products for stainless steel appliances, these DIY cleaning solutions also work to clean and shine your stainless steel appliances.
Even if some of them require more work than others, the outcomes are well worth it.
For regular cleaning of stainless steel appliances, warm tap water, and dish soap are best. You can use it as a quick fix to clear fingerprints and smudges.
In addition, you can use a mild dishwashing liquid with degreasing properties on grease stains on stoves and ovens.
Dip a microfiber cloth into a mixture of warm water and dish soap, and then wipe down your appliances. Wipe your appliance with a clean, dry cloth to remove excess water and prevent water spots.
Although it may not seem like it, baking soda is an excellent option for removing grease stains and smudges from food items. It also helps remove rust from stainless steel appliances before it worsens. Mix baking soda with warm water in a small bowl to create a paste.
Then, take a microfiber cloth and gently rub it over the appliance in the same direction as the metal’s grain. The cloth can then be used to clean the appliance with clean water.
Dry the appliance with a soft cloth to ensure a brilliant shine.
Like vinegar, glass cleaners can also help remove tough dirt from your stainless steel appliances. In addition, it’s a great product to use on a stainless steel refrigerator or oven with glass fronts.
Spray directly onto the appliance and then wipe it clean immediately. Make sure the surface sparkles by buffing it with a clean cloth.
An important thing to note with glass cleaners is that they must not contain ammonia, vinegar, or bleach.
If they do, they will not be suitable for cleaning stainless steel appliances.
To clean your appliance, fill a spray bottle with club soda and apply it with the bottle’s nozzle.
Afterward, use a microfiber cloth to carefully remove the residue by wiping it in the direction of the grain of the metal.
Mineral Oil/Baby Oil
Mineral oil and baby oil can be used to clean fingerprints off stainless steel appliances and keep them shiny. Just put a thin layer of baby oil or mineral oil on the stainless steel and polish it with a clean cloth.
This method works well to also prevent fingerprints on the appliance.
Cleaning Tips for Stainless Steel Appliances
No matter which cleaning product you use, there are some general dos and don’ts for cleaning stainless steel appliances.
It would help if you regularly cleaned stainless steel to avoid bigger problems like rust and deep scratches.
- Always follow the cleaning instructions on the package of the stainless steel cleaner you use
- You should also check the appliance manual for any warnings regarding cleaning. Some kitchen appliances have unique coatings that require special care.
- Before applying any cleaning products, make sure the surface of your appliance is completely free of dust
- Always dry your appliance after cleaning. You can towel dry or even use a paper towel to remove any moisture
- You can use baby oil or mineral oil to polish to improve the appliance’s finish after cleaning with any cleaner
- Always follow the metal’s grain when wiping to avoid streaks
- Do not use steel wool or any abrasive scourers on stainless steel appliances
- Do not rub in a circular motion when cleaning
- Don’t try to polish your appliances with olive oil or any other cooking oil
- Do not use distilled white vinegar on stainless steel appliances
General Stainless Steel Cleaning Tips
- Tap water is acceptable for use, but distilled water will prevent water spots
- Do not use cooking oil to buff your appliances, as it will leave a sticky residue over time. The same goes for WD-40 or any other oil-based substance.
- Always use a microfiber cloth for your stainless steel cleaner, keeping a clean wet cloth and dry cloth for use to finish the cleaning process
- Always check which cleaning solution is best to clean your appliance. Some are better against grease, while others are general cleaners.
Does vinegar ruin stainless steel?
Vinegar is acidic by nature. It is safer to avoid using this to clean stainless steel appliances, as they can be sensitive to it. You can, however, wipe down other stainless steel surfaces with a mixture of water and white vinegar that has been distilled.
How do you clean stainless steel without damaging it?
You can clean stainless steel appliances safely by using the correct cleaning methods. This included avoiding bleach, ammonia, and harsh scouring powders.
In addition, always use a microfiber cloth and avoid harsh abrasives like steel wool, wire scrubbers, and brushes. You should also always check the cleaning instructions carefully before you begin.
How do I get the shine back on my stainless steel appliances?
It depends on the condition of your appliances. If it has lost its shine, it could be from dirt, improper cleaning methods, or neglect. You can’t get the shine back without using harsh cleaning methods and removing the protective layer.
However, if it is still intact, you can clean off the dirt and buff and polish your appliance with the appropriate polish.
If you own stainless appliances, you must know how to clean stainless steel properly. It is crucial to the longevity and aesthetic of your appliance. Always remember to clean stainless steel appliances regularly with the proper cleaning solution. This will save you from intensive cleaning methods that can cause damage.
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Erin is the mother of identical twin girls and their slightly older brother. She is a domestic engineer, and previously had a career leading customer service teams for a major HVAC company. Cleaning without harsh chemicals, and cooking easy and usually healthy meals are part of Erin's daily life. She volunteers with youth leaders, and genuinely wants to help others win. Erin has a degree in Communications, with a focus on Broadcast Journalism.