How to Clean Your Stainless Steel Appliances

Kitchen - How to Clean Your Stainless Steel Appliances

Many people love their stainless-steel kitchen appliances for their sleek, modern look and durability. And although fingerprints and smudges are visible on traditional stainless steel, they’re also easy to remove.

Other types of stainless steel are available with a coating, such as a fingerprint-resistant coating, that require particular care. So before using any cleaning products, always follow the maintenance instructions in your owner’s manual.

General Cleaning Methods

1. Wipe down stainless-steel surfaces with a solution of warm water and mild liquid dish soap. This is a substitute cleaning method for coated stainless steel if the manufacturer’s recommended product isn’t available. Be sure to wait until an appliance is cool to the touch before starting to clean.

Use a soft cloth or nonabrasive sponge and start at the top of the appliance and work your way down, always wiping in the direction of the stainless-steel grain. Rinse the appliance with clean water, and do a second rinse to remove any soap. Finish by wiping the appliance with a soft, lint-free cloth, also in the direction of the grain.

2. For baked-on foods and heavier grease, use hot water, mild liquid dish soap, and a nylon scrubber. Gently scrub the liquid solution into the baked-on food or grease. The nylon scrubber is not as abrasive as other tools but be very careful not to scratch the stainless steel with it. When finished, rinse the surface, and dry with a soft cloth to prevent water spots and staining.

3. Apply a baking soda and liquid dish soap paste for the most stubborn stains and dirt. Use a nylon scrubber or soft toothbrush to gently scrub the paste into the stains or dirt. If the food stain still remains, use some undiluted food-safe cleaning vinegar, but only do this if you know your stainless steel doesn’t have an oleophobic or oil-repellent coating. The vinegar will strip it. Scrub the vinegar into the food stain with a soft brush, rinse well, and dry with a towel.

4. You can also make a natural spray for regular cleaning. Combine 32 ounces of food-safe cleaning vinegar (6% acetic acid content) with 10 to 20 drops of food-grade essential oil in a spray bottle. Spray the solution, and immediately wipe with a microfiber cloth in the direction of the grain. Again, be sure your stainless steel doesn’t have an oleophobic finish.

5. Periodically buffing your stainless-steel appliances after cleaning will help maintain a shiny finish. Apply a food-grade mineral oil, lemon oil, or stainless-steel polish with a soft, lint-free cloth, and polish in the direction of the grain. Then use another soft cloth to buff and dry.

Major Don’ts

It’s important to use cleaning products that won’t damage the stainless-steel finish. Here are some cleaning products and tools to avoid:

  • Don’t use steel brushes, steel wool, highly abrasive scrubbing pads, abrasive cloths, or paper towels that will scratch the surface, and can make your appliance prone to rust.
  • Don’t use chlorine bleach, or any cleaning product with chloride.
  • Don’t use any abrasive cleansers.
  • Don’t use dirty, gritty, or excessively hard water — it can leave spots or stains. Preferably, use distilled or filtered water. Water that’s not completely dried off can also cause discoloration.
  • Don’t use the following cleaning products: oven cleaners, muriatic acid, or glass cleaners (check your manual – some manufacturers recommend glass cleaners).

Removing Scratches

Scratches can eventually appear on stainless-steel appliances with the wear and tear of everyday use. The scratch removal method you use depends on whether your stainless steel has a protective clear coat or synthetic surface.

Removing Fine Scratches on Uncoated Stainless Steel

1. Use a nonabrasive compound, such as Bar Keeper’s Friend. If using the powder form, create a paste that has the same consistency as toothpaste. You can also use a non-gel whitening toothpaste to remove scratches.

2. Apply a small amount of the compound or toothpaste on a microfiber cloth. Rub it gently over the scratches, always working in the direction of the grain. Continue until you’ve buffed out the scratch.

3. Take a slightly damp microfiber cloth and wipe the area gently to remove any residue. Dry with another microfiber cloth. Repeat steps 2 and 3 if needed to completely remove the scratches.

Removing Deeper Scratches on Uncoated Stainless Steel

1. Purchase a stainless-steel scratch removal kit, such as Scratch-B-Gone. These kits usually contain a polishing compound, a microfiber cloth, and abrasive pads. Read the kit’s instructions thoroughly, then identify the grain direction in your stainless steel.

2. Choose the abrasive or grit pad needed for the scratch you want to remove (there are usually light-duty and heavy-duty pads in the kit). Apply any compounds to it as recommended in the instructions. Then rub the scratch only in the direction of the grain, either vertically or horizontally. Use only the amount of pressure needed to remove the scratch.

3. Move to a different grit pad if recommended by the instructions, adding any water or solutions as called for, and continue buffing.

4. To finish, buff the surface with a microfiber cloth to bring out a clean shine.

Scratches on Coated Stainless Steel

Removing scratches from coated stainless-steel appliances is very

difficult to do. Check with your manufacturer or owner’s manual for product recommendations or solutions for highly visible scratches. Each manufacturer as well will have an approved stainless-steel product for minor scuffs or marks.

If using other products or methods, test them out on a small section of the appliance first. For example, it’s sometimes suggested that a good paste car wax with carnauba will remove the “white film” look that results from surface scuffing.

Your major appliances are an important investment. Trust C&W Appliance Service to protect your investment with the very best in appliance repair and maintenance. Call us at (855) 358-1496 or contact us online.


For the very best in appliance repair and maintenance, you can count on C&W Appliance Service.