Stainless steel appliances have been in style for quite some time now, and it doesn’t look like the trend will fade anytime soon. If your kitchen sports these bold, trendy pieces, you might have noticed they aren't the easiest appliances to clean.
While they look great, this popular finish tends to show fingerprints, streaks, and dirt more than any other appliance. Keeping them clean is not actually that tricky, as long as you know the dos and don’ts.
When cleaning an appliance made of stainless steel, always begin with a dry, clean cloth. Microfiber towels are ideal for the job, but you can get away with using any cotton cloth as long as it is clean and soft.
You can also use damp paper towels, although their thickness may not be sufficient to remove particularly stubborn stains. Stores often sell wipes specifically designed for stainless steel, too.
Never use rough objects to clean your stainless steel appliance. Stay away from steel wool and scouring pads, and don't use magic erasers or other melamine sponges, which look and feel soft to the touch, but they are abrasive and will scratch stainless steel.
If you notice scratches on your stainless steel while cleaning it, stop immediately and double-check that you are using the proper tools.
A simple solution of vinegar and hot water has been a cleaning staple for centuries, and it’s easy to see why. The gentle formula cleans and disinfects, making it perfect for use in your kitchen, where harmful bacteria can thrive.
Vinegar water can remove fingerprints, smudges, and streaks from your stainless steel appliances. Mix a 1:1 ratio in a spray bottle for easy use. Use protective equipment such as a mask and gloves, because a strong vinegar smell can irritate your eyes and throat.
Do not clean stainless steel appliances with bleach or chlorine-based cleaners, including products like Clorox. When bleach interacts with stainless steel, it has a corrosive effect. Even the smallest amount could discolor your appliances beyond repair.
If these chemicals have splashed onto your stainless steel appliance, wipe the surface immediately to preserve the finish and prevent rusting.
After you’ve cleaned your stainless steel appliance with a soft cloth and gentle cleanser, use oil for a shiny finish. This also helps prevent fingerprints and streaks for longer.
Baby oil and olive oil are both recommended for this step, as they are mild enough for everyday use. If you do not have these oils around, you can purchase specific stainless steel polishing oils from many stores.
Ammonia, like bleach, has the potential to damage the finish of your stainless steel appliances. This means steering clear of Windex, Lysol, and Pledge. Also, never use oven cleaners on any stainless steel appliance or sink. These cleaners contain large amounts of caustic, corrosive chemicals, and the damage can be impossible to repair.
If you’ve accidentally used an ammonia-based cleaner on your appliance, immediately wipe it away with mild dish soap and hot water.
Another gentle way to clean your stainless steel appliances to a shiny finish is to use club soda. The carbonation in this handy beverage lifts away surface stains, fingerprints, and smudges, and polishes, all in one step.
Put a little club soda in an empty spray bottle and use it liberally to get a spotless result. Seltzer water is another great option.
To achieve a shiny, spotless finish, skip the tap water when cleaning your stainless steel. The hard water in most homes will leave residue and spots on your appliances. If tap water is the only option, boil it first—this is the quickest way to soften your water.
Allow the water to cool before you clean with it. For easy use, put your boiled and cooled water in a spray bottle.
Many specialty cleaners on the market are designed to clean stainless steel appliances safely. Some of the most popular products are wipes and sprays, but there are also pastes for heavy-duty polishing.
A cleaner specially designed for stainless steel is a great way to take the guesswork out of cleaning your appliance, but be sure to take your time. Rushing through the cleaning process, even with the right product, can damage the finish.
Even with the most meticulous cleaning routines, over time, you’ll see wear and tear on the finish of your stainless steel appliances. Shallow scratches and stains can be removed during the refinishing process.
To refinish a stainless steel appliance, use fine-grit sandpaper and a rubbing compound to achieve a smoother finish. Alternatively, you can purchase a stainless steel refinishing kit. Many companies provide this service if you don’t feel confident refinishing your stainless steel yourself.