How To Clean Stainless Steel

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With this combination of cleaning tools and procedures, you may gently and thoroughly remove fingerprints, food spatter, and grease from your kitchen’s metal surfaces.

Stainless steel, gleaming and glossy, adds a bright and polished air to any kitchen. Keeping that gleaming shine, on the other hand, takes a little elbow grease—as well as alsome very particular cleaning solutions. Fortunately, this comprehensive instruction on how to clean stainless steel can aid you in keeping the like-new appearance of this metal finish.

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Stainless Steel Mistakes to Avoid

When examining how to clean stainless steel appliances, sinks, and worktops, the first thing to consider is what not to do. Some common cleaning solutions may harm the finish of stainless steel, and even plain water, if not handled properly, can leave unattractive stains and blotches. Stainless steel, despite its name, may and does discolor.

So, first and foremost, for clean stainless steel surfaces, avoid the following items and techniques:

Use chlorine bleach or any other chloride-containing substance.

Make use of oven cleaners.

Steel wool, steel brushes, or extremely abrasive cleaning pads can produce scratches and leave a deposit of tiny particles that may corrode. (If you’ve already done some harm, see your guide on removing stainless steel scratches.)

On brushed stainless steel, use abrasive cleaners.

Unless a stainless steel surface is chilly to the touch, clean it.

Gritty, unclean, or too hard water might leave blotches or reddish stains.

How to Clean Stainless Steel Correctly

Although the list of things not to do may appear intimidating, there are several very basic things you can do to clean stainless steel equipment without leaving your kitchen sink.

Keep the following stainless steel cleaning recommendations in mind:

Follow the cleaning and care recommendations in your owner’s handbook to the letter.
Some new stainless steel appliances are factory-treated with a clear-coat finish, which some cleaning agents can remove or damage.

Every time you clean the dishes, wipe off the appliances with a soapy towel.
This is one of the greatest habits to develop while cleaning stainless steel, and it is also one of the simplest. Rinse the washcloth with clean water and wipe it again to remove any soap, followed by a wipe with a dry terry towel.

Always wipe in the direction of the “grain” of the stainless steel.
Begin from the top of the appliance and work your way down to the ground.

On baked-on foods, use a nylon scrubber, light liquid dish soap, and hot water.

To remove heavy oil or baked-on meals, a little abrasion is required, but avoid needing equipment that will leave scratches behind—nylon scrubbers are a perfect balance. After cleaning the stainless steel surfaces, make careful to rinse and towel dry to avoid water stains or discoloration.

Using a baking soda paste, remove the most tenacious spots.

Make a mixture of baking soda and liquid dish soap and gently scrape it into the grain needing a nylon cleaning tool or an old toothbrush. If stubborn filth and stains persist, cut through them with undiluted cleaning vinegar—but only if you’ve confirmed that your stainless steel does not have an oleophobic (i.e., oil-repellent) layer that may be removed by the vinegar solution—scrubbing gently with a soft brush once more. Make certain to rinse and towel dry.

Combine washing vinegar and aromatic oils to make a reusable stainless steel cleaner.

In an empty spray container, add 32 ounces of cleaning vinegar (which has 6% acetic acid content, which is more than ordinary white vinegar) and 10 to 20 drops of food-grade essential oil to make a simple, all-natural cleaning spray. Again, only use if you know your stainless steel equipment does not have an oleophobic coating.

If a stainless steel polish is not available, restore the shine with food-grade mineral oil or lemon oil.

Buffing your stainless steel appliances after cleaning them will assist to keep their shine. Apply the polish with a lint-free cloth in the direction of the grain, then buff and dry with another lint-free cloth.

Homemade Stainless Steel Cleaners vs. Commercial Stainless Steel Cleaners

So far, while addressing how to clean stainless steel, I’ve concentrated on cleaners that most homes already have on hand: liquid dish soap, baking soda, vinegar, and even food-grade mineral oil. These choices are not only convenient and affordable, but they are also inherently food-safe for use in your kitchen.

There are, however, a plethora of non-abrasive cleaners and polishes particularly developed for use on stainless steel.

My personal favorite stainless steel cleaner is 3M Stainless Steel Cleaner (available on Amazon), but there are several other highly recommended brands, including Bar Keeper’s Friend (available on Amazon), Cerama Bryte (available on Amazon), Sprayway (available on Amazon), and Iman (available on Amazon) (available on Amazon).

When in doubt, always test your stainless steel cleaner on a slightly concealed surface, such as the back or sides, before moving on to clean the stainless steel on the most obvious locations, such as the front of an appliance or the top of a kitchen counter.

Need More Cleaning Hacks?

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You can also grab a copy of my cleaning planner, The Get It Clean Cleaning Planner here on the site. It’s packed full of extremely practical tips and tricks and checklists that can help you get your house clean, and keep it clean once and for all.

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