How To Clean Stainless Steel Appliances And Sinks

    Stainless steel kitchen/Sears (by permission)Do you love the sleek look of a stainless steel kitchen? You are not alone. Among homeowners who remodeled their kitchen this year, 73 percent chose stainless new steel appliances. Add to that the popularity of stainless steel sinks and faucets ... and you're looking at a material that plays a starring or supporting role in just about every American kitchen.

    But do you know how to clean stainless steel appliances and fixtures? Despite stainless’s many advantages, it’s infamous for showing every fingerprint or smudge. There’s an art to keeping your stainless kitchen essentials looking great. If you’re looking to have professionals help keep your kitchen spotless, find a local business to get a cleaning quote.

    We consulted Wayne Archer, a veteran appliance serviceman who’s now Technical Author for Sears PartsDirect. Wayne’s got the goods on maintenance of kitchen appliances and fixtures. Check out his pro tips on how to clean stainless steel:


    1. Follow the grain.

    Stainless steel has a particular grain -- or direction -- similar to wood. Take a good close look at your stainless steel item to see which way its grain goes, and always clean and polish in that same direction. Ignore stainless steel grain at your peril – or risk actually forcing dirt, grease, etc. deeper into the steel’s grooves.

    The result? Instead of the smooth polished appearance you were hoping for, your hard work will turn your appliances and fixtures grimy and dull.

    Stainless steel grain close-up/Sears (by permission)

    1. “Shop” your kitchen cabinets for the best cleaners.

    Search no further than your kitchen cabinets for the best and gentlest stainless steel cleaners. Apply your choice of undiluted white vinegar, club soda, or a warm water/dish soap blend to the steel surface with a soft cloth, preferably cotton or microfiber. Go easy – your cleaning cloth should be just damp. Then gently wipe dry.

    Never use harsh chemicals or abrasive cleansers on stainless steel kitchen appliances or sinks; these may actually scratch and deteriorate the metal. Also avoid paper towels, which can leave lint marks, and don’t even think of using a cleaning brush or ... shudder! ... steel wool.

    1. Polish up stainless steel with olive oil.

    Here’s a pro cleaning (or should we say “gleaming”?) tip to restore the luster of stainless steel stoves, fridges, or dishwashers. Once you’ve cleaned and dried the steel, dab on a little bit of olive oil and rub it in, always going in the direction of the grain. Even older stainless steel appliances will start to gleam as good as new. Don’t happen to have any OO on hand? Sub mineral oil instead.

    Gleaming stainless steel dishwasher/Sears (by permission)

    1. Buff a stainless sink with … flour?!

    For a sparkling stainless steel sink, proceed as in Steps 1 and 2. Once the sink is nice and clean, use flour for that final spit-and-polish effect. The point of the flour: stainless sinks tend to accumulate ground-in dirt over time. The flour will absorb this dirt, leaving your sink beautifully shiny.

    CAVEAT: Thoroughly dry your sink before trying this. Dry flour in a dry sink can be brushed right out after buffing. Otherwise, any leftover moisture will combine with the flour and the stainless steel will be covered in sticky goo. And if too much of that goo goes down the sink, you’ll need to call a plumber to clear the resultant drain clog.

    1. Take care of scratches.

    No matter how careful you are, life happens. The appearance of your stainless steel appliance or sink may be affected by wear and tear, polishing against the grain, or using rough cleaning pads (we warned you!). Treat scratch marks by polishing with a dedicated stainless creme like Cerama Bryte on a soft, clean cloth. Repeat two or three times, always parallel to the grain. 


    • Beware fridge magnets on a stainless steel refrigerator; their edges are a scratching hazard.

    • Use a rubber mat to safeguard your sink against scratches while washing pots. Avoid stains -- remove the mat between uses and never leave pans or dishwater sitting in the sink. 

    • Wipe spills and spots off appliances ASAP, and gently rub, don't scrub, to protect the stainless shine.

    • For more stainless steel care tips, check out this video or visit

    Laura Firszt writes for

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