16 Effective Ways to Clean and Care for Stainless Steel

Don't know how to clean and care for stainless steel? Here are 16 tips to keep your refrigerator, hood, and other surfaces shiny.
16 Effective Ways to Clean and Care for Stainless Steel

Written by Editorial Team

Last update: 10 May, 2024

Stainless steel is present in many kitchen utensils, such as pots and pans and cutlery, as well as in appliances, sinks, and even jewelry. The reason? Steel is a robust material that doesn’t release harmful particles and is also very beautiful. But it does require maintenance to keep it looking good, and you’re probably wondering how to clean stainless steel to keep it looking shiny.

There are many products, both natural and manufactured, that can help you wash stainless steel, and here we’ll tell you which ones we think are best for stains and fading. We’ll also tell you tricks for daily maintenance, cleaning your appliances, and even jewelry.

The step-by-step guide to cleaning stainless steel on a daily basis

The key to keeping your stainless steel appliances and utensils looking as beautiful as they did when you first bought them is maintenance. There are tricks that – if you apply them daily – will prevent major cleaning in the future. Here are the three that we consider the most important.

1. Use neutral soap

Soap is a very versatile product that allows you to wash multiple surfaces. If you have doubts about how to clean stainless steel with it, just dissolve a few drops in a container with water, moisten a soft sponge, and rub the steel, following the direction of the veins.

An important detail is to choose a neutral or ecological soap, which has a smaller amount of chemicals in its composition and is more respectful with stainless steel, preventing it from losing its shine.

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2. Dry stainless steel very well

After cleaning with neutral soap, you must dry well the pot, hood, refrigerator, or any other surface you are cleaning. Although this type of steel is indeed “stainless” in normal conditions, if you leave cleaning water on it, it can become stained and lose its shine.

We recommend that you do this drying with a microfiber cleaning cloth. They are very soft, easy to clean, and don’t scratch the surface of the steel.

3. Stay away from the dishwasher

We know that there are times when time is short, and the quickest thing to do when cleaning pots, pans, cutlery, and other kitchen utensils is the dishwasher.

However, in the case of stainless steel, it’s not a good idea to use it. This is because of the detergents used. They usually contain chemicals and aggressive compounds that can cause stains on the steel. An alternative would be to try vinegar as a degreaser in the dishwasher, which is a natural product.

How to clean stainless steel with vinegar and baking soda

Vinegar and baking soda are two of the most used household products for household hygiene. The first is very useful for cleaning stainless steel stained with scale (this is due to its acidity), as well as to fight grease, as it has a degreasing action. Meanwhile, the second is perfect for treating stubborn stains and burnt stains.

If you don’t know how to properly clean the stainless steel dishwasher, as well as the countertops and hoods of this material, we will tell you that this duo is key to achieving it:

  • Mix in a spray bottle one part vinegar and two parts warm water.
  • Apply the mixture all over the surface of the sink or countertop.
  • Sprinkle baking soda over the area.
  • Let it sit for a couple of minutes.
  • Wipe with a soft sponge.
  • Dry with a microfiber cloth.
This method can also be used to clean stainless steel pots, pans, and utensils with stains and dull spots.

Two ideas for cleaning stained or burnt stainless steel

Stains on stainless steel can arise for various reasons: not drying kitchen utensils properly, leaving foods that release acids or starch in pots and pans, excess heat, salt, and chemicals present in some cleaning detergents, among other things. And although the above method of cleaning with vinegar and baking soda is effective, there are also other options you can try.

1. Cola soda for cleaning stained or burnt stainless steel

Sodas are not only for drinking, they can also help you remove annoying rust and lime stains on stainless steel. To do this, wet a sponge in the soda and rub the area that has the stain until it disappears. Then just rinse and dry well.

In case the stain is very strong, let the soda act for a few minutes in the area, before rubbing and rinsing. The carbonated water in the soda helps to clean in depth.

3. Tomato sauce for cleaning stained or burnt stainless steel

Tomato sauce is one of the most effective tips to leave the pans shining, and the citric acid in it is in charge of dissolving the carbonized stains that the steel may have. If you are wondering how to clean burnt stainless steel, just do the following:

  • Cover the burned area with tomato sauce.
  • Put it on the heat for a couple of minutes. This only applies if the stain is on a pot or pan.
  • Let it act for about 30 to 40 minutes.
  • Rub with a very soft sponge.
  • Wash and dry with a dish towel.

How to clean stainless steel to make it shine?

A fairly common situation is that despite being very clean, stainless steel  loses its shine and looks dull and dull. These tricks to polish it that we will share with you can be applied to clean kitchen utensils, such as spatulas and ladles, as well as refrigerators, hoods, and any other appliance made of this material.

1. Olive oil

Olive oil is not only great for cooking, but it also acts as a natural polisher of this metal. In fact, it’s one of the most popular and easiest tricks to restore the shine to dull flatware:

  • Dampen a piece of kitchen towel in olive oil.
  • Wipe it all over the surface to be cleaned.
  • Let it act for a few minutes.
  • Remove all the oil by rubbing it with dry paper.

2. Polisher

There are also specific products to polish steel and they are known as polishers. They usually come in spray presentation and if you have no idea how to clean stainless steel with them, just apply them on the surface and rub them with a microfiber cloth, until it has the shiny look you are looking for.

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Two tricks to clean stainless steel appliances

It’s no secret that more and more appliances are made of stainless steel, this is due to their corrosion resistance, which makes them more durable over time. Don’t you know how to clean the stainless steel of your refrigerator, washing machine, air fryer, or any other appliance? here we tell you.

1. Use a damp and dry cloth

It may seem obvious, but wiping with a damp and dry cloth is effective for cleaning stainless steel anti-fingerprint appliances. This differs from the normal one in that it has a final layer or coating that protects it from fingerprint marks.

All you have to do is dampen a microfiber cloth, wipe the entire outer surface of your refrigerator, dishwasher, or any other appliance with it, and then dry it with a cloth, always passing it in the direction of the veins of the steel.

2, Alcohol

Believe it or not, alcohol can be very useful for cleaning grime off the refrigerator door, as well as the exterior of other appliances. Wondering how to clean stainless steel with alcohol, just follow these steps:

  • Spray alcohol on the exterior of the appliance, with the help of a spray bottle, especially where there is the most grime.
  • Rub with a microfiber cloth until the dirt disappears.

A very important detail is that after cleaning stainless steel with alcohol, it will look dull. So you will have to apply some of the tricks we told you before to bring back the shine.

3. Stainless steel cleaner

If you are looking for a product made to clean stainless steel appliances with grease, we recommend a professional cleaner. For example, the Alclear brand not only acts as a degreaser but also against fingerprint stains and dust.

As for its use, it’s used in the same way as alcohol: you apply it to the surface and rub it with a dry microfiber cloth.

How to clean stainless steel jewelry

Stainless steel is not only present in kitchen utensils, several types of jewelry are made with it, and over time they may stain and lose their shine. To give them a second life, it isn’t necessary to paint the steel, you can use any of these three methods.

1. Baking soda to clean stainless steel jewelry

Earlier we talked about the good pair that makes baking soda and vinegar in cleaning stainless steel, but you should know that it’s also useful to restore the shine to jewelry.

All you have to do is moisten a sponge with water and sprinkle baking soda on it, then rub it on your bracelet, chain, or dirty jewelry. When it looks cleaner, dry it with a towel.

Also, if the stain is very persistent, you can use baking soda and lemon or vinegar, as we had mentioned.

2. Effervescent aspirins

A good way to clean rusted steel jewelry is by using aspirin and effervescent antacids. They contain carbonate and sodium bicarbonate in their composition which, as you may have noticed, is great for cleaning.

To do this, add an aspirin or antacid tablet in half a glass of water, place your jewelry inside, and let it act for about 15 to 20 minutes. You will see that the water turns dark and when you take out your jewelry, you only have to dry it well.

3. Toothpaste to clean stainless steel jewelry

You probably don’t associate toothpaste with cleaning anything other than your teeth, right? The truth is that it can also be used to clean stainless steel and metal jewelry in general. Of course, you should not leave it too long on your jewelry, because it could damage it. The step-by-step is as follows:

  • Apply toothpaste on a sponge or very soft bristle brush.
  • Rub over the stained jewelry gently, in the direction of the stainless steel veins.
  • Wipe with a damp cloth, making sure that no paste residue remains.
  • Dry well and that’s it, clean jewelry.

Two options for cleaning fingerprints from stainless steel

One of the things that make stainless steel look dirty when it really isn’t is fingerprints, especially on small appliances like toasters or coffee makers. But don’t worry, saying goodbye to them is pretty simple with the following tips.

1. Glass cleaner

Both manufactured and homemade glass cleaners made with ingredients such as vinegar or lemon, are effective against fingerprints. Spray a little on the stained area and rub with a soft sponge, finishing by blotting with a microfiber cloth.

2. All-purpose cleaner for cleaning fingerprints from stainless steel

Another idea on how to clean fingerprint-stained stainless steel is with the help of commercial all-purpose cleaners. You apply it just like the glass cleaner, spraying it on the surface, rinsing it with a damp cloth, and then drying it.

If you go for this option you must take into account that the cleaner does not contain chlorine or bleach and that it comes in a liquid presentation, to be applied in spray. If you choose it in a creamy texture, it will be more difficult to remove and that is not the idea.

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Extend the life of stainless steel by avoiding these products

Throughout this article, we’ve told you which products are good for cleaning stainless steel and how to do it, but we cannot say goodbye without telling you which ones you should avoid, as they will only cause more harm than good.

The first are chlorine and bleach, these are very strong and abrasive products that can weaken, little by little, the stainless steel and reduce its durability. The same applies to powder cleaners.

As for cleaning utensils, avoid metallic sponges and hard bristle brushes, because they can scratch the surface of the steel. We do not recommend drying it with cotton cloths, because they release lint that remains in the area.

Now that you know how to clean stainless steel properly, all you have to do is put these tips into practice and delight yourself with the brilliant results, which definitely won’t go unnoticed!

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Arias, A. (2019). Evaluación a nivel laboratorio, de la acción desinfectante y desengrasante del vinagre sintético blanco al 4 %, con vida de anaquel caducada, como sustituto a productos químicos comunes. [Tesis de grado, Universidad San Carlos de Guatemala]. https://core.ac.uk/outputs/326018556?
  • Instituto Mexicano de Acero Inoxidable. (s.f.). Uso y Conservación de Productos de Acero Inoxidable, Manual para usuarios. https://iminox.org.mx/aplicainox/

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.