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How to Clean Stainless Steel

It’s a question that we get asked all the time: How to clean stainless steel? We all have stainless steel in our homes somewhere. Our kitchens are usually full of stainless steel pots, pans, cutlery, and everything in between. Not to mention that it is one of the most popular choices in contemporary kitchen designs.

Stainless steel appliances tend to blend seamlessly into any aesthetic, and as a result, their popularity doesn’t seem to be waning any time soon.

Although it looks beautiful and will last a lifetime, you have to admit – stainless steel gets dirty really fast. When it’s dirty, it becomes impossible to miss the grimy prints and smudges all over it.

That’s probably why you’re here – you want to find out the best way to clean stainless steel.

how to clean stainless steel appliances

Don’t worry, you opened the right site. Here, we’re going to go through the different ways you can clean stainless steel. One of these should fit your preferences, whether you don’t mind using chemicals or want to keep your ingredients simple.

If you have some stainless steel that has a bad scale build-up, or is just in need of some serious cleaning, keep reading to find out how you can tackle your mess.

Cleaning Stainless Steel

The first thing you will need is our super-simple DIY stainless steel cleaner. It only takes 3 common ingredients to make and is super effective.

Before cleaning any stainless steel appliances, make sure you read the manual first. If you managed to lose the manual (we all do, don’t worry), you will be able to find it online. It’s pretty common to find specific cleaning instructions in the user manual for some items and appliances.

Because of this, take a look at anything the manual says that could help you. There’s nothing worse than cleaning and finding out you went against the manufacturer’s explicit instructions.

  • Baking soda
  • Mild dish soap
  • White vinegar
  • Soft cloth
  • Olive oil

How To Clean Stainless Steel Appliances

If your stainless steel fridge or dishwasher has seen better days but doesn’t look too bad overall, the first thing you will want to do is take note of the grain. It’s a lot easier to clean stainless steel if you go with the grain.

Try simply wiping the dirt off with a cloth and some warm water, always going with the grain. Often, you don’t actually need anything else to get it looking as good as new. Start wiping from the top, then work your way down to get a shiny finish.

If a cloth and hot water doesn’t get the desired result, it’s time to pull out your stainless steel cleaner. Simply spray onto the stainless steel and wipe off with a damp cloth.

If you do this, make sure that you dry the item afterward and make sure that there is no residue left over. Any residue can make the steel look cloudy and dull. 

How To Clean A Stainless Steel Sink

Stainless steel sinks are a bit more durable than your other appliances, but they also tend to get a lot filthier! For this one, warm water alone just isn’t going to cut it.

You should skip straight to using our DIY Stainless Steel Cleaner (or a store-bought alternative if you have one). Spray a liberal amount onto the sink and scrub with a scouring pad before rinsing with clean water.

For any stubborn grime, you can make up a baking soda paste, or use washing soda (check out our simple guide on how to make washing soda).

How To Clean Stainless Steel Covered in Grease 

Often, the stainless steel on stoves will get the brunt of the grease. However, grease can find its way to anything and everyone, and it’s inevitable in the kitchen, If you have found a spot that needs some TLC and don’t want to have to look at the grease, all you need is some vinegar, water, and a cloth. 

Create a solution of vinegar and hot water with the ratio of 1:2 (that’s one part vinegar to two parts water) and dip your cloth in. Wring the cloth out to remove excess moisture and wipe the greasy surface thoroughly.

Chances are, the grease will easily come off, and your troubles will be over! Once you have wiped the item, make sure you rinse it with water to get rid of any vinegar. After than dry it, and it should be looking as good as new.

How To Clean Stainless Steel Pans

how to clean stainless steel pan

If you (or someone else) has somehow managed to get your stainless steel pans looking almost unrecognizable, don’t worry, they can be saved. Accidentally burning something on the stove in stainless steel pots and pans is easy to do.

Unfortunately, when this happens, so many of us just give up on the item and think that its best days are behind it. That isn’t true, though. With the right ingredients, you can get your favorite pots looking shiny and new.

Using a baking soda scrub, you can get rid of messes on just about anything. For this, you will need to make a paste with water and baking soda, then apply it to the area you need to clean.

Allow it to sit for a while, probably 20 minutes or so, then you can get to work scrubbing. Elbow grease mixed with the baking soda paste should result in a beautifully clean pan.

Don’t use something harsh to scrub it, though, you actually only really need a cloth since the baking soda will do all the work

Just use a cloth dipped in soapy water, and start working. Make sure you work with the grain of the stainless steel so that you don’t accidentally scratch the metal. Once the stainless steel is cleaned to your satisfaction, all you need to do it rinse and dry it, so it’s ready to use again.

How To Clean Stainless Steel Ovens

Stainless steel ovens and stovetops can get pretty dirty, particularly with cooked-on grease. They might require some elbow grease to get looking their best but it can be done!

Use the same vinegar solution that we mentioned above, but try adding a little baking soda for really stubborn grease stains. It might be that you need to let the vinegar solution work for 5-10 minutes before wiping off to get the best result.

How To Clean Stainless Steel Jewelry

When it comes to cleaning stainless steel jewelry, you should make a paste out of baking soda and water. Use a 2:1 ratio to get the consistency right.

Carefully spread the paste over your stainless steel jewelry and scrub gently with an old toothbrush. Rinse your jewelry with warm water and use a soft towel to remove excess moisture.

Make sure you let it dry completely before putting it away.

How To Clean Stainless Steel Water Bottles

Most stainless steel water bottles are dishwasher safe, which is perfect for your everyday cleaning. But every so often it’s a good idea to give them a good deep clean.

You will get a good result from simply using warm soapy water and a bottle brush, or, use the baking soda paste mentioned before to really tackle the dirt.

If your bottle is retaining flavors or smells, soak it overnight in diluted vinegar.

how to clean stainless steel water bottle

How To Clean Stainless Steel Without Scratching

Stainless steel is a very durable material and resists damage and scratching well. Any of the techniques we have mentioned in this article should clean your stainless steel safely. But remember to always check the manufacturer’s instructions to see if they recommend things to use, and things to avoid.

How To Clean Brushed Stainless Steel

The most important thing when cleaning brushed stainless steel is to GO WITH THE GRAIN. We can’t emphasize this enough. Wiping against the grain will push grime and cleaning product deeper into the little grooves that make up the grain.

Besides this, any of the techniques we’ve spoken about will work well for brushed stainless steel.

How To Clean Rust Off Stainless Steel

There are a few methods to clean rust off stainless steel, but we found that the trusty baking soda and water paste works like a charm for everything but the most rusted-out surfaces (even for getting rust off of carpets).

Make up a paste using a 2:1 ratio of baking soda to water, and spread evenly over any rust spots. Rub the paste in the direction of the grain with a clean cloth or paper towel. Let it sit for a few minutes, then simply wipe the residue away with a damp cloth.

Sterilizing Stainless Steel 

If you need to sterilize your stainless steel, whip out your steam cleaner. Attach a nozzle to the device and simply use the cleaner along the surface.

Doing this will clean away just about anything, and will leave you with stainless steel that’s clean enough to eat from (I don’t recommend that, though).

Be careful not to use any stiff tools or the brush attachment, or you could scratch the steel. When your item is clean, wipe the surface and get it dry.

How To Polish Your Stainless Steel

So you want your stainless steel to shine? We couldn’t agree more. Chances are, this step will pertain to your refrigerator or another larger stainless steel surface. No matter what it is, all you need is a soft, clean cloth, and some olive oil.

Add a drop of olive oil (literally a drop) to your clean cloth, and start buffing it into the stainless steel surface. Go with the grain and bull until every surface is covered. Once everything is covered, wipe off the excess oil with a clean, dry cloth.

Whatever you have polished shouldn’t feel like it’s covered in oil, but should look shiny. Doing this will protect the item from accumulating fingerprints, and it should last some time!

how to polish stainless steel

Some Useful Tips On How To Clean Stainless Steel

If you’ve found yourself in need of cleaning your stainless steel and would like to know exactly what you should and should not do, check this list out below:


  • Always towel dry the metal after cleaning (this prevents water spotting from occurring)
  • Use a soft, damp cloth
  • Wipe with the grain (this makes it easier and also helps to avoid streaks)


  • Never use an abrasive cleaner (these will scratch the metal)
  • Never use brushes or steel wool (these will scratch the surface and could lead to rust and stains)
  • Never use anything with chlorine in it (these will damage any kind of stainless steel)
  • Never use dirty water for cleaning (the metal will look cloudy)
  • Never use tap water if you know there are harsher chemicals in it. Instead, use filtered or distilled water to keep your stainless steel looking shiny.

Final Thoughts

Cleaning stainless steel efficiently is super easy once you know what you should and shouldn’t do. Although there are plenty of chemicals you can use to clean your metals, sometimes the best options are right at home. Using these basic ingredients, you can get the same results as any cleaning product you can buy at the store.

Now that you know how to clean stainless steel, hopefully you will never have to look at unsightly stainless steel appliances again. Why not try out the olive oil trick and see how long it lasts?

While you’re here, make sure to watch this video on how to clean stainless steel by our friends at Clean My Space.

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