How to Clean Stainless Steel Surfaces and Appliances Without Chemicals

After restoring your stainless steel refrigerator to its former glory, you'll want to tackle every other stainless surface in your kitchen to match.  

Durable and shiny, it's the ideal material for kitchens and bathrooms, but do you know how to clean stainless steel? "Stainless" was originally used to describe steel's ability to withstand heat and humidity without corroding but, as anyone who's owned stainless steel kitchen appliances knows, the term is somewhat of a misnomer. While stainless steel is tough, it's also prone to fingerprints, streaks, and water stains.

Harsh abrasives can scratch and contribute to rust, so it's important to learn how to clean stainless steel the right way. Follow these chemical-free tips to get your stainless steel cookware and appliances clean and shiny, so they live up to their name.

What You Need:

How to Clean Stainless Steel Without Chemicals

The adage "there's more than one way to skin a cat" applies to cleaning stainless steel. Go with the method that matches your stainless steel item, its condition, and what you have on hand.

Step 1: Check the Manual

Before you clean a stainless steel appliance, it's smart to check the manufacturer's recommendations. There are numerous grades of stainless steel out there, some more durable than others, and some appliances are treated with a clear-coat finish, which can be stripped by certain cleaning products. Lost the manual? Don't worry, you may be able to find it online.

Step 2: Go With the Grain

Just like wood, stainless steel has a grain. Determine the striations on the surface of your appliance and wipe in that direction, beginning at the top and working your way down.

Step 3: Wipe With a Damp Cloth

In most cases, wiping down your stainless steel with a clean cloth dipped in hot water does the trick. For 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.

Step 4: Steam-clean

To sterilize and disinfect stainless steel, use a steam cleaner with a nozzle attachment and then wipe dry with a soft cloth. Because stainless steel scratches easily, avoid using a brush attachment or any stiff cleaning tools.

Step 5: 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, and never let vinegar sit on the surface. Follow with a complete rinse and dry.

Step 6: Scrub With Baking Soda

Burned or caked-on messes on stainless steel pots and pans, sinks, or countertops typically need a bit more attention. Make a soft paste of baking soda and water and then apply it to the stain, allowing it to sit for about 20 minutes. Next, scrub the area with a soft cloth dampened in a solution of water and dish soap, working parallel to the grain to avoid scratches. Be sure to fully rinse and dry.

Step 7: Add Some Shine

To make the surface of your stainless steel appliance shiny and protect it from fingerprints, add a small drop of olive oil to a cloth and buff it into the surface, working in the direction of the grain. Then wipe away excess with a dry cloth. The surface shouldn't feel oily, but it'll look shiny and fingerprint-free for longer.

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