Stainless steel appliances are popular for kitchens in millions of homes across the U.S. They look amazing when they are new, so shiny and futuristic looking. Stainless steel can be a pain to keep clean! Everyone has their ideas as to the best way to clean it. There are tons of companies that claim their product is the best to use for the job, but which ones REALLY work! Sometimes the simplest solution is the right one! And it’s not all about the cleaning, it’s about understanding the material you are working with.
Cleaning solutions for your stainless steel appliances
Let’s start with the material, like wood, stainless steel has a grain direction. So when cleaning, it’s important to figure out the direction of the grain and be sure to wipe with the grain and not against the grain. These striations can be very faint, so you might have to look close. It’s possible for one appliance to have more than one grain direction, so be sure to pay attention when cleaning different parts like doors, handles etc. Cleaning with the grain will prevent cleaning residue from collecting in the tiny little crevices, and gives a better shine. Many stainless steel products have a fingerprint-proof finish, or will slowly show less fingerprints over time as the stainless conditions itself.
Cleaning products don’t always mix well, so try to find a solution that works for you and stick with it. Mixing products can actually make the cleaning harder over time. Try to avoid products that contain chloride, as this can damage the protective finish. Some of the better products are chloride free glass cleaner (this is great for the polished surfaces and mirror like surfaces), and the commercially manufactured pastes made for stainless steel.
For natural and DIY cleaners you have a few options. White vinegar is great for cleaning. Use a spray bottle to apply the white vinegar to a microfiber cloth or directly onto surface, allow it to sit for a moment, then wipe in the direction of the grain. You can apply as many times as needed to get the desired results. Vinegar contains a mild acid, called acetic acid. It cuts through the oil left behind by fingers, rather than smearing it around like a lot of other products.
Good ol’ hot water! Yes, just hot water and a microfiber cloth does great for keeping appliances clean and the microfiber cloth won’t leave streaks. If you have stuck-on food or stains on the surface you may need to scrub a little longer. If you don’t feel like hot water is enough to clean, then add a little concentrated dish liquid like Dawn to a soft sponge (DO NOT USE ANYTHING ABRASIVE) or a lint-free cloth and and wipe in the same direction of the grain. Wipe again with hot water and dry immediately to prevent any mineral spots (if using regular tap water).
Another option is Windex and a soft cloth or paper towel to remove fingerprints. Glass cleaner works great on stainless steel, and can be a quick and easy fix to those annoying fingerprints and smudges. When using the glass cleaner spray it on to the cloth and then wipe onto the appliance, by doing this you wont have to worry about any drips or the cleaner drying and streaking before you are able to wipe it down.
For really tough stains or to get your appliances to really shine, you can always use the commercial stainless steel cleaners. These should be used as a last resort or just on occasion. Non-toxic solutions are always a better option, but commercial cleaners can come in handy! Just like everything else, be sure to always wipe and clean with the grain to prevent any scratching and build up in the tiny crevices. The two best commercial cleaners are the 3M Stainless Steel Cleaner, and the Bar Keepers Friend Soft Cleanser. Both are non-abrasive and a great option for cleaning and polishing your stainless steel.