How to Clean Stainless Steel Appliances

by Team eLocal
up view of a stainless steel fridge

The kitchen is one of the busiest spots in the house, so it’s no wonder that your stainless appliances can accumulate fingerprints, grease and food splatters quickly.

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Tackling appliance cleaning, fridge organization and other kitchen tasks regularly keeps the space easy to use. When you clean stainless steel appliances, it's important to use gentle cleaners and avoid anything harsh to protect the finish.

How Do You Clean Stainless Steel Appliances?

Stainless steel is relatively easy to clean, especially if you do so regularly to avoid buildup. The biggest issue most people have is getting rid of fingerprints and cleaning without streaking. Another concern with stainless steel is the grain. The ideal cleaning method is to work in one direction with the grain instead of wiping in a circle or going against the grain.

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Try These DIY Cleaners for Stainless Steel Appliances

Vinegar and Olive Oil

One common homemade cleaner for stainless steel appliances uses vinegar and olive oil. Spray the appliance with distilled white vinegar and wipe it with a microfiber cloth following the grain. Then dip a clean cloth into a little bit of olive oil and wipe it over the stainless steel. The oil helps make your appliances shine and can help get rid of streaks on the finish.

Degreasing Dish Soap

Another simple option is using soapy water made with degreasing dish soap. Use a clean cloth to wipe all surfaces. Go back over it with a clean, damp cloth to remove the soap. You can follow up with baby oil using the same method as the olive oil application. Dip a clean cloth into the oil and apply it with the grain.

Baking Soda Paste

If you have stuck-on food or grease that doesn't come off easily, make a gentle paste with baking soda. Pour a small amount of baking soda into a bowl and add water a little at a time until you create a thick paste that sticks to the stainless steel. Rub the paste onto the surface on greasy areas and wipe it off with a damp cloth.

Club Soda

Some people use club soda to clean stainless steel appliances. Simply spray some club soda onto the stainless steel and wipe it with a microfiber cloth going with the grain.

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What Products Should You Not Use on Stainless Steel?

Some cleaning products are too harsh to clean stainless steel appliances. Harsh chemicals and abrasive products are the main enemies of stainless steel. Things to avoid when you clean stainless steel include:

  • Bleach: It can cause stains or pitting.
  • Abrasive cleaners: Abrasive powder cleaners, steel wool, scouring pads and other abrasive items can scratch the finish or damage the grain.
  • Ammonia: This chemical is found in many cleaners, especially glass cleaners, and can cause damage. Some manufacturers say ammonia is safe for their products, but it's best to avoid it if possible.

Tips for Cleaning Stainless Steel Appliances

Coffee pot and containers on counter

Here are a few more tips that will help you clean stainless steel appliances well:

  • Read the manual. If you have brand-new stainless steel appliances, you should read the manual included in the packaging to see if the manufacturer recommends certain cleaning products. Look for warnings and things to avoid, as finishes can vary slightly between manufacturers.
  • Test the cleaner. Always try the cleaner you choose on a hidden spot on the stainless steel before using it to clean the entire appliance. This lets you check for reactions or damage.
  • Start gently. It's always best to start with the most gentle option and work up to stronger cleaners if needed.
  • Use distilled water. If you have hard water, consider purchasing a jug of distilled water to clean stainless steel appliances. This can reduce the streaking and spotting that sometimes happens due to the minerals present in hard water.
  • Tackle spills quickly: Grab a damp cloth to wipe away food, grease or other spills as soon as they happen. They're much easier to wipe off when they're fresh.

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