How to clean stainless steel

November 5th, 2015

Appliance Hack Appliance Talk Kitchen Small Appliances

How to clean stainless steel

One tip that we regularly recommend to anyone planning a kitchen renovation is to choose appliances with similar finishes, to help give the room a consistent, unified appearance.


Stainless steel appliances tend to look especially good when matched with one another – a home kitchen can be given an elegant and professional look and feel simply by including a few sleek and stylish stainless steel appliances.

However, while a stainless steel appliance may look perfect from the moment you get it home and peel away its protective coating, in many cases it doesn’t take long for grubby finger marks to start showing up on the shiny surface. And trying to remove these maks can sometimes make things worse, leaving streaky marks behind to mar the otherwise clean surface.

Here are a few tips for how to keep your stainless steel appliances clean:

Before you start, check the grain

Think back to your high school woodwork classes for just a second. Remember how the planks of wood had a grain to them, with all of their fibres pointing in the one direction? And remember how it was important not to cut the wood against the grain?

brushed metalsource: Andrezadnik on Wikimedia Commons

Stainless steel surfaces also have a grain – take a close look to see which direction it goes. And while you’re not going to be cutting the stainless steel surfaces around your home (at least not often), it’s important to keep the grain in mind when cleaning.

When you’re cleaning your stainless steel surfaces, try and wipe your cleaning cloth along the grain, and not across the grain. Try not to use a circular motion, either. If you wipe down stainless steel against the grain, grubby marks are more likely to show up, and you’re more likely to accidentally scratch the surface.

Speaking of which…

Be gentle!

You don’t need to use rough surface to clean stainless steel – leave the scourers, steel wool and rough-backed sponges alone! A softer and finer surface, such as a microfibre cloth, is a better choice for cleaning smooth surfaces without the risk of scratching.


If a stubborn bit of grot (such as a burnt-on food splash) is stuck to stainless steel, don’t succumb to the temptation to clean with a rough surface. Stick to the usual techniques, possibly applying more cleaning agents or giving the area a little extra attention.

And speaking of cleaning agents…

Have you tried water?

It may sound too simple to be true, but sometimes all you need to clean just about anything is just plain water.

water dropsource: Davide Restivo on Flickr

This includes stainless steel.  Just be sure to dry it off afterwards to keep droplets from leaving marks. Stainless steel may resist everyday corrosion, but it can still suffer wear and tear if not maintained well.

Step it up with vinegar

If plain water isn’t working to remove grots from your stainless steel – and by “grots” I mean everything from finger marks to food splashes burned onto a stainless steel cooktop – it’s time to step up to the next all-purpose kitchen cleaner – vinegar.

1461883_Vinegar-at-the-Supermarket_620source: Ms angie gray at Wikimedia Commons

I’ve mentioned before just how much I love vinegar, as its mild acidity is juuust enough to clean just about anything, without the risk of damaging any surfaces.

A diluted solution of water and vinegar may be all you need to dissolve most grots, but if that’s not cutting it, you can go a bit further and try straight vinegar.

Give it a shine with oil

Even if you remove all the ugly marks from your stainless steel surfaces, they may still look a bit dull and lifeless.


However, a small dab of oil (olive oil will do) on a cloth can be used to buff stainless steel appliances to a shine, so your kitchen can sparkle like a certain young Adult Fiction vampire.

800px-Flourssource: Mudd1 on Wikimedia Commons

I haven’t tried it, but I’ve heard tell that flour can also work a treat for giving stainless steel a shine, particluarly sinks.  If you want to try this out, clean your stainless steel surface as normal, then leave it to dry. Once the surface is moisture-free, sprinkle plain flour across it and give it a good buffing – if all goes according to plan, you’ll end up with a clean and shiny stainless steel surface!

Clean early, clean often

Prevention is always better than cure.

stainless steel kitchensource: James Brooks on Flickr

You may not be feeling up to it after completing the cooking or washing up, but if you’re able to give your kitchen’s stainless steel surfaces a quick clean straight away, it will be worth it. This will help prevent grots from building up on these surfaces, becoming more difficult to shift, and eventually staining your stainless steel!

Mark joined Appliances Online in November 2011 and has since learned more than he ever expected to know about appliances. He enjoys looking for new and unusual ways for to solve everyday problems using typical household appliances. When he’s not toiling at the desks of Appliances Online and Big Brown Box, he tries to find time to write the next big bestseller and draw satirical cartoons, but is too easily distracted by TV, music and video games. Mark’s favourite appliance is the Dyson Groom Tool, as he loves the concept of vacuuming your dog. Google+

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