How to Clean Stainless Steel Everything—From Pans to Appliances—Without Chemicals
Restore your stainless steel refrigerator to its former glory.
Both durable and shiny, stainless steel is the ideal material for kitchens and bathroom. But as anyone who's owned stainless steel kitchen appliances knows, the name is somewhat of a misnomer. The material is prone to fingerprints, streaks, and water stains. The name "stainless" was originally used to describe the metal's ability to withstand heat and humidity without corroding. Although this material is tough, harsh abrasives can scratch it or make it rust, so it's important to learn how to clean stainless steel the right way. Follow the steps below to get your stainless steel shiny and have it live up to its name.
What You'll Need:
- Soft cloth
- Mild dish soap
- White vinegar
- Baking soda
How to Clean Stainless Steel:
- Check the manual: Before you clean a stainless steel appliance, it's a smart idea to check the manufacturer's recommendations. Lost the manual? Don't worry, you may be able to find it online. It's important to check the directions for your specific appliance, because there are numerous grades of stainless steel that may be more or less durable, and some appliances are treated with a clear-coat finish, which can be stripped by certain cleaning products.
- Go with the grain: Just like wood, stainless steel has a grain. Check out the striations on the surface of your appliance, and wipe in that direction, beginning at the top and working your way down.
- The quick clean: In most cases, wiping down the stainless steel appliance with a clean cloth dipped in hot water should do the trick. But for more stubborn stains, add a drop of dish soap to the water and use the sudsy solution to wipe the surface. Rinse with water and dry thoroughly.
- The steam clean: To sterilize stainless steel, you can also use a steam cleaner with a nozzle attachment. The steam will disinfect the surface, which can then be wiped dry with a soft cloth. Because stainless steel can scratch easily, avoid using a brush attachment or any stiff cleaning tools.
- Try vinegar: For stubborn grease spots or water scaling, wet a soft cloth with a diluted solution of 2 parts water to 1 part vinegar. Wipe the entire surface from top to bottom, but never let vinegar sit on the surface. Follow with a complete rinse and dry.
- Baking soda scrub: Burned or caked-on messes on stainless steel pots and pans or countertops typically need a bit more attention. Make a soft paste out of baking soda and water and apply to the stain, allowing it to sit for about 20 minutes. Then, scrub the area with a cloth dampened in a solution of water and dish soap. It's important to use a soft cloth and work parallel with the grain to avoid scratches. Be sure to fully rinse and dry.
- Add some shine: To make the surface of your stainless steel refrigerator shiny and protect it from fingerprints, add a very small drop of olive oil to a cloth and buff it into the surface, in the direction of the grain. Then wipe away excess with a dry cloth. The surface shouldn't feel oily, but it will look shiny and fingerprint-free for longer.