Learn how to clean stainless steel with these simple tips that will finally put a shine to your stainless steel appliances and surfaces.
Step-By-Step How to Clean Stainless Steel Once and for All
For me, learning how to clean stainless steel has been a love-hate relationship. That is, until I came up with this successful three-step solution that does the trick once and for all.
I love stainless steel appliances. I love how they look because they are sleek and stylish, but they are not necessarily smudgeless. And, when there’s a smudge, it really stands out like a sore thumb.
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Many of my homemaker friends swear by the products they use to clean stainless steel. I have to say, I have a whole cupboard full under my sink made up of liquids, sprays and wipes all touting they can clean stainless steel the best.
Still, it’s taken a while to figure out what truly works but I think I’ve finally came up with a game plan how to clean not only my stainless steel refrigerator, stove, and dishwasher but all of my stainless steel fixtures and trim, once and for all.
It’s actually a three-step process:
Step 1: Clean
The problem I have found is that stainless steel is a finicky metal, and you cannot use harsh chemicals on it otherwise you will permanently damage the surface. The same goes for using abrasive wipes and scrubbers (don’t do it!).
When I clean, I use a soft microfiber cloth and some warm dish soap to remove all of the stuck on food and gunk. My soap of choice is Dawn. I figure if it’s good enough for oil-covered ducklings, it’s gotta be okay to use on stainless steel. Anyway, once you’ve cleaned the stainless steel, follow it with a clean wet rag to remove any soapy residue, then move on to the next step.
Step 2: Wipe
Nothing says clean as bright and shiny stainless steel. There are a number of products that swear they can make you see yourself on the surface once you apply their products. (See List below.)
WARNING: Keep isopropyl alcohol away from children. It is poison and could be easily digested.
In fact, I’ve found that using isopropyl alcohol to remove sticky grease on my stainless steel vent hood is a lifesaver.
I don’t even try to use soap and water anymore. I just go at it with a liberally soaked rag and wipe away. I’ve also used the same method on my cabinets close to my stove. It seems as if I’m not as clean of a cook as I think I am.
WARNING: Keep your cloth that has isopropyl alcohol away from open flames and electrical outlets. Alcohol and its fumes are highly flammable.
I usually pour the alcohol into a soup bowl and dunk in my microfiber cloth, squeezing it out well.
Then, moving in the direction of the stainless steel “grain,” I go back and forth, from top to bottom.
You’ll probably see a great shine at this point, but it’s better to finish up by buffing.
Step 3: Buff
Just as I used a microfiber cloth to apply the alcohol, I use a separate but dry one to finish up with the final buffing.
I’m always careful to buff with the grain otherwise I can see fine lines on the surface of the stainless steel. I have found out the hard way not to go in circles or against the grain, because that will wreck the appliance’s finish.
Note: If I’m dealing with an extra “sticky” situation, (think any touch ups), I’ll go back to step two (Wipe) and repeat the process to step three (Buff).
Tried and True Products to Help You Clean Stainless Steel Appliances and Surfaces
Like I said, I’ve found the above process works for me. But, if the results aren’t quite what you want, here are some other great solutions that others have found do a good job to clean stainless steel:
Sheila Shine is used in professional kitchens and many swear that it works hard to keep the shine on your stainless steel appliances. This is one product I’m going to personally try if my rubbing alcohol fails. My belief is if professional kitchens use it, it might something to try.
Another tried and true product that moms with young children will love is baby oil. Just use a little drop of it on a cloth and buff away the stains to a shine. Just be sure to first clean your appliance and then dry it well before applying the baby oil.
All Purpose Cleaners
Pledge has been found effective for cleaning stainless steel appliances. Again, be careful with any aerosol spray around gas or electric appliances. Aerosol is very flammable. And, as always use a microfiber cloth to shine.
Real Simple recommends olive oil as a way to create the perfect shine. Just apply a dab of olive oil and rub in. Buff with paper toweling.
Vinegar and water is a powerful cleaner for your whole house. I have found that it works okay on stainless steel but I find I get more streaks than I prefer. As an FYI, there’s a higher concentrated white vinegar that homemakers swear is great for cleaning. But I’m pretty sensitive to chemicals and I don’t really want to have to wear gloves to clean my kitchen. So, if you are like me, go ahead and use regular distilled vinegar and water (50/50 solution). This is a great go-to if you have nothing else on hand. Buff well with a microfiber cloth.
How to Clean Stainless Steel Infographic
To help you remember these handy tips for cleaning stainless steel, be sure to PIN this infographic for later:
And, for more great tips for cleaning every room in your home, be sure to check out Wisconsin Homemaker’s Cleaning Section.