By Amy Hunt
Working out how to clean stainless steel is pretty straightforward and worry-free. Great news, considering how common a kitchen material it is, and how perfectly it can bring a welcome gleam to the room.
The material is often used for appliances, sinks, range hoods, and even sometimes countertops. It can stand up to tough cooking conditions without damage, which is why it's so popular in our kitchens.
Stainless steel is a great material that can bring a modern look and hygienic surfaces into the kitchen. It was only invented a little more than a hundred years ago, and it has several useful properties. It's durable, doesn't rust, and is heat resistant up to 1200°C (2192°F). It's also resistant to bacteria too. Since it is hygienic and long-lasting, stainless steel has been used in kitchens and the food industry since the 1920s.
However, despite its obvious benefits, it's a material that is prone to fingerprints and streaks—so it's important to know how to clean it properly for a brilliant shine.
How often should we be cleaning our stainless steel?
Luckily, stainless steel is easy to maintain, although it does take a little time to banish the fingerprints. In order to make sure yours stays looking its best, it's recommended that you do a quick wipe over of your stainless steel daily.
How to clean stainless steel
1. When doing a quick daily clean
For easy maintenance, wipe stainless steel surfaces daily after washing the dishes as part of your kitchen cleaning routine. So how to clean stainless steel on a daily basis?
Simply combine one teaspoon of dish soap with one liter of hot water, and add the mixture to a cloth. Simply use the soapy cloth to wipe over the appliance or part of your kitchen, then rinse it with just hot water (not boiling), and finally, buff with a dry towel. Using a microfiber cloth is also a great choice for drying to avoid any watermarks—you may need to rub a bit to get rid of fingerprints and oily marks. This is a great method when working out how to clean a fridge, too.
Be sure to start at the top, if you're cleaning an appliance, and then clean by following the "grain" of the stainless steel. When working out how to clean a stainless steel sink, it's worth noting that they can handle a bit more scrubbing than other stainless steel appliances, so it's fine to wash in a more circular motion.
Make sure to check the owner's manual for any appliances to see what's recommended for cleaning and if any cleansers should be avoided.
2. When doing a deeper clean
You'll likely need to do a deeper cleaning periodically (perhaps every two weeks) to clean off bigger messes. If there's baked-on or greasy food, use liquid dish soap and hot water with a nylon scrubber (which won't leave scratches). If dish soap alone isn't enough, add baking soda to it to create a paste. Use the nylon scrubber or a toothbrush to rub with the grain of the stainless steel. Baking soda with water can also be used to clean the oven.
If that's not quite doing the trick, for even more cleaning power use undiluted cleaning vinegar and a scrubber or toothbrush. Make sure your stainless steel doesn't have an oil-repellent coating before using vinegar, since that could ruin the coating. You can safely set aside some of that vinegar to clean the microwave too. Then, simply rinse and dry after washing with any of these methods, to avoid water spots.
3. Use commercial cleaners if you don't get the results you want with natural methods
There are also commercial cleaners that can be purchased when planning how to clean stainless steel. Make sure to spot the test in a less noticeable location to make sure it's safe for your stainless steel. These products can help bring out the most shine for your appliances, and some are formulated to help minimize smudges and fingerprints.
What products should you avoid when cleaning stainless steel?
There are also cleaning methods to avoid when planning how to clean stainless steel. Some products can cause damage to stainless steel. That includes:
- Abrasive cleaners, such as ones with chlorine bleach or ammonia, and ones meant for ovens
- Anything that could leave scratches, like steel wool, steel brushes, or abrasive scrubbing or scouring pads. The same applies when cleaning copper, too
- Hard water, if you can—that alone can leave spots on your stainless steel
Also, don't clean stainless steel while hot, as it could damage it and is potentially a danger to you, too.
How to polish your stainless steel for a great shine
After working out how to clean stainless steel, buffing can bring that brilliant shine back to your appliances, such as your favorite induction pans, that we're all after. While it is a very durable material, it does take frequent cleaning to banish those fingerprints and bring back a brilliant shine. But with a few ingredients already in the kitchen, your stainless steel can look as good as new.
Depending on how much a kitchen is used, polishing stainless steel only needs to be done once or twice each month. Use food-grade mineral oil, lemon oil, or stainless steel polish. Don't buff with food-based oils like olive oil or vegetable oil. Using a lint-free cloth, rub the polish onto the stainless steel following its grain. Use a different cloth to buff and dry the surface.
Some commercial stainless steel cleaners also contain a polish. Wax-based sprays for stainless steel can even help prevent fingerprints. Do wear gloves when using these polishes. Spray a light coating on the stainless steel. Let it sit for a minute or two, and then wipe with a clean microfiber cloth in the direction of the grain.
If you just want a quick shine, wipe the stainless steel with a dry cloth sprayed with window cleaner that's free of ammonia. Still follow the grain of the stainless steel, since that helps minimize streaks.
Amy Hunt is Life Channel Editor at womanandhome.com, having been with the brand since 2015. She began as the magazine's features assistant before moving over to digital as a News and Features Writer, before becoming Senior Writer, and now a Channel Editor. She has worked on either women's lifestyle websites previously too—including Woman's Weekly, Goodto.com, Woman, and Woman's Own. In 2019, Amy won the Digital Journalist of the Year award at the AOP Awards, for her work on womanandhome.com. She is passionate about everything from books, to homes, to food and the latest news on the royal family. When she isn't editing or updating articles on cleaning, homewares, the newest home gadgets, or the latest books releases for the website, she's busy burying her nose in a gripping thriller, practising yoga, or buying new homeware of her own.
Meet the Queen's great-grandchildren—here's all 12 from Prince Harry’s daughter Lilibet to Princess Beatrice's newborn baby girl
The Queen's great-grandchildren are a group of 12 following the birth of Princess Beatrice's little girl!
By Danielle Valente •
Survivor 2021—how to watch season 41 of the epic competition show
Survivor 2021 is back and it's time to watch 18 new castaways compete for $1 million and the coveted title of 'Sole Survivor'
By Rylee Johnston •
How to clean tile floors for a sparkling finish every time
Getting a polished finish is easy when you know how to clean tile floors like a professional
By Amy Hunt •
The best real Christmas trees—which variety to buy and how to care for yours
The best real Christmas trees all have differing pros and cons depending on their variety, so it's important to choose wisely
By Teresa Conway •
The best artificial Christmas trees to decorate your home in style this festive season
We've assessed the best artificial Christmas trees available to buy for 2021 to ensure your home looks as festive as possible
By Tamara Kelly •
TikTok hack reveals you've been cleaning your toilet wrong—this is how to stop it 'smelling like a urinal'
One TikToker's deep cleaning secret will help you keep your toilet smelling fresh
By Rylee Johnston •
How to make candles at home according to women who have made a business out of selling them
From wax to wick, create a signature glow by pouring your own ambient candles with our expert-approved guide
By Rachel Homer •
The best pillow for a good night's sleep—whether you’re a back, side or stomach snoozer
On the hunt for the best pillow for you? There's no such thing as a good night's sleep without one—so we've rounded up our pick of the comfiest.
By Ysanne Brooks •
How to get rid of limescale from anywhere in the home easily and effectively
Calcium carbonate—more commonly know as limescale—can be easily tackled with a mild acid solution
By Amy Hunt •
The best scented candles for a gorgeous-smelling home
Taking deep breaths has never been so thrilling thanks to the best scented candles
By Sibelle Mehmet •