How to Clean Stainless Steel

Medically Reviewed by Poonam Sachdev on April 08, 2022

Stainless steel appliances are a common sight in many American kitchens. However, stainless steel easily accumulates fingerprint marks, smudges, streaks, and water spots. This means that you may have to do regular cleaning to keep your utensils shining. 

To clean a regular stainless steel surface, soak a clean cloth in warm water and wipe the surface down. Make sure to dry the surface immediately using a towel to prevent the formation of spots. These spots form because of minerals in the cleaning water.

How to Clean Stainless Steel Appliances

Mix some mild detergent with warm water and dampen a soft cloth with the mixture. Use the cloth to wipe down your stainless steel appliances. When you are done wiping, rinse the cloth and wipe the appliances down again. To prevent leaving water spots on the surface, dry it using a towel.

If you spot some fingerprints, try using a glass cleaner to wipe them off. Spray some on a cloth and wipe down the affected area.

What cleans stainless steel in other instances?

If the surface of your appliance is covered in grease or baked-on food, mix baking soda and water. Then, use a sponge or a soft cloth to rub the mixture onto the stainless steel surface. When you’re done, take a clean wet cloth and wipe down the surface. Use a towel to dry it. If you’re dealing with scratches or stains, apply a stainless steel cleaner. Make sure to use the cleaner according to its directions. Dampen a clean cloth, use it to rinse off the surface, and then dry.

To remove smudges, prepare one tablespoon of white vinegar and one tablespoon of olive oil. Apply the olive oil to a cloth and rub the smudges off the stainless steel surface. Pour the white vinegar onto the other side of the cloth and wipe down the appliance. Then, leave it to dry.

If you are dealing with a dull stainless steel sink, ammonia may come in handy. Dip a clean cloth in ammonia or vinegar and polish your sink.

How to Make Stainless Steel Shine

As mentioned earlier, your stainless steel appliances may need cleaning regularly to keep shining. If your appliances have lost their shine, try to gently scrub the appliances with a baking soda paste. You can also wipe it down using diluted vinegar.

How to Keep Stainless Steel Clean

Try to always perform aesthetic touch-ups to keep your stainless steel appliances and surfaces shining. This may involve things like the immediate cleaning of spills or messes that occur when you are cooking.

How to Maintain Stainless Steel Cookware

Stainless steel cookware may last decades if maintained properly. 

There are a few things you can do to make sure this happens:

  • Regular cleaning. Try to always engage in proper cleaning of your stainless steel utensils after use. Remember, though, not to do so when the cookware is still hot. Wait for it to cool first. Use soapy water to rinse surfaces and then use a sponge for scrubbing. Stainless steel utensils may also do well in your dishwasher. However, try hand-washing them because the dishwasher might remove the beautiful finish. Also, make sure you always use a chlorine-free kitchen cleanser to wash stainless steel utensils.
  • Gradual heating. Stainless steel cookware should only be subjected to gradual heating to prevent the development of a rainbow-like tint that doesn’t look so good. If the cookware gets a rainbow tint, though, you can remove it by scrubbing it using a non-abrasive sponge that’s soaked with two or three teaspoons of diluted vinegar.
  • Keep off salt and acidic foods. It's crucial that you remember not to put salt in stainless steel cookware unless there’s another type of food in it. This is because salt may cause rusting and corrosion of the steel. Also, acidic foods like lime, vinegar, and more should be rinsed off immediately after use. Acidic foods may cause your stainless steel utensils to start pitting.
  • Minimize abrasions. Always try to use wooden utensils on stainless steel cookware. Do whatever you can to avoid abrasion. If your food sticks to the cookware or burns, avoid scraping. Consider soaking it first in soapy water and then scrubbing with a sponge afterward. Also, don’t use steel wool to scrub out stainless steel utensils. Doing so may remove the protective layer on the stainless steel surface, which is made of chromium oxide. This could cause the utensils to start rusting or become corroded.
  • Deal with stubborn food bits. If your cooking goes wrong and you find yourself having to deal with stubborn food bits stuck to the floor of the pan, boil some water in the pan and gently scrape off the food bits using a flexible spatula. Avoid scrubbing with steel wool.
  • Descaling. If you usually use hard water for cooking and other household chores, your stainless steel cookware is bound to build up mineral deposits after some time. To prevent damage, scrub the cookware gently with diluted vinegar.
  • Vacation care. If you decide to go for a vacation, consider covering your stainless steel cookware with a light coat of oil inside and outside. This may go a long way to prevent rusting and scaling because of water residue.
  • Proper storage. For proper storage of stainless steel utensils, get a rack or store them, separated with a cloth or paper to avoid scratching.
  • Remove brown and blue stains. Stainless steel pans develop a brown or blue stain when dry-heated. While this does not interfere with its efficiency, it will affect its aesthetic appeal. To get rid of it, apply diluted vinegar or lime juice and let it sit for about three to four minutes. Then, use a non-abrasive sponge to clean it.

Make sure you check the owner’s instruction manual for recommendations on how to clean your specific stainless steel appliances. When dealing with steel, try not to use bleach, ammonia, steel wool, harsh abrasives, and scouring powders. These products may damage steel finishes.

By avoiding the use of abrasive cleaners, you may prevent damaging the steel while cleaning. On the other hand, neglecting the steel and contamination by dirt may destroy the steel’s corrosion protection.

Show Sources



Consumer Reports: “How to Clean Stainless Steel Appliances.”

David Suzuki Foundation: “How to clean stainless steel appliances.”

Smart Home Guide: “How To Maintain Stainless Steel Cookware.”

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