Cleaning Stainless-Steel Appliances: 3 At-Home Methods + 3 Store-Bought Picks We Stand By

Say goodbye to streaks and smudges.

Confession: As a new homeowner who has never had any stainless-steel appliances, I wasn't properly prepared for the challenge of keeping these babies clean. My journey to a smudge-free refrigerator began by simply purchasing a variety of cleaning products labeled "stainless-steel cleaner." However, I quickly learned that most of them don't work. They create streaks, don't clean anything and often left my refrigerator looking like a crime scene.

155158594

155158594

The woman cleaning surface of inox refrigerator with pink rag and spray.

Photo by: ©iStockphoto.com/xefstock

©iStockphoto.com/xefstock

That’s when I decided to get serious and figure out this stainless-steel cleaning challenge once and for all. After quite a bit of research, both online and on my fridge, I've finally cracked the code.

I don’t want you to suffer like I did, so here’s everything you need to know about keeping your stainless-steel appliances sparkling and streak-free.

THE BASICS

Stainless steel is more of a challenge to keep clean because it shows fingerprints and can easily look streaky. Because of this, it’s very important to move your cloth in one direction and go with the grain when you clean. If you’re not sure which direction you should go, start in a small area and test things out. I find that a clean microfiber cloth works best, though you can also use paper towels.

You should also remember that there are different types of stainless steel. You might need to do a bit of experimenting before you hit on exactly what works best for your specific appliance. In fact, if you have several stainless-steel appliances, each one might require a slightly different cleaning routine.

There are also some major "don'ts" when it comes to cleaning stainless steel: 

Avoid using steel wool or any other abrasive sponges or scrubber pads.

Don’t use any chlorine-based cleaner or anything with chloride in it.

Don’t use an oven cleaner.

If your tap water is harsh, it it might leave spots or stains.

AT-HOME SOLUTIONS

Vinegar + Olive Oil

Many people swear by the simple combination of vinegar and olive oil for keeping their stainless-steel appliances clean.

1: Add white vinegar to a clean spray bottle.

2: Spray down your stainless-steel appliance.

3: Wipe clean with a microfiber cloth.

4: Once clean, dip your cloth into a small amount of olive oil.

5: Move the cloth in the direction of the grain. This will add some deep shine to your appliance and remove any remaining streaks or marks.

Dish Soap + Baby Oil

Simple dish soap can also work to clean your stainless-steel appliances.

1: Clean the appliance with dish soap.

2: Put a small amount of baby oil on a microfiber cloth.

3: Move the cloth in the direction of the grain to polish and shine your appliance.

Club Soda

TBH, I've never tried this one, but I have friends who swear by this simple cleaning technique.

1: Add club soda to a clean spray bottle.

2: Spray down your stainless-steel appliance.

3: Rub the cloth in the direction of the grain to polish and shine your appliance.

STORE-BOUGHT CLEANERS

While Weiman has a variety of stainless-steel cleaning products available, the wipes eliminate the need for having my own microfiber cloth handy.

I only use this spray with a microfiber soft cloth for best results.

If you’re looking for a natural solution, then Therapy might be a good fit. Their formula uses a base of 100-percent coconut oil, as well as other natural ingredients.

Clean Your Household Gadgets

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Flatscreen Televisions

LED TV screens are fragile, so don't let harsh paper towels or chemicals anywhere near them. Use a lint-free, microfiber cloth to gently wipe down the screen. If a stubborn mark persists, pour a 50/50 solution of water and rubbing alcohol into a spray bottle, spritz on the cloth, and wipe down again. Don't apply the solution directly to the TV, and do not press down on the screen, which could cause pixels to burn out.

Tablets

Check your device's manufacturer's instructions, as many companies advise against using any sort of chemical on a touch screen. The 50/50 water to alcohol solution can be used with a microfiber cloth on the back of the tablet. To be safe, opt for a water-only damp (not wet!) cloth on the screen.

Smartphones

Since your smartphone goes everywhere with you, pack tech-cleaning mobile and packaged wipes in your purse or car. Make sure the wipes are specifically designed to clean screens and electronics and have antibacterial properties.

Computers

When a dusty cooling fan is a computer's problem, look to the laundry room. Dryer sheets work double duty to safely clean a computer's parts without interfering with its electrical system. As for a keyboard — that's seen its share of mess. Use a can of forced air to knock crumbs out of those nooks and crannies.

Printers

Forced air works well with printers, too. Point the can at any built-up filth around buttons and cords to blast it away. Open doors to check that there is no lint build-up inside.

Headphones

Considering they touch sensitive parts of our bodies, headphones should be cleaned at least once a week. Use a microfiber cloth to wipe the headphones down with a solution of gentle soap and water.

Refrigerators

A stainless steel fridge needs special care to look its best. Use vinegar on a microfiber cloth, or a special stainless-steel mit to wipe the grime away. An equal-parts vinegar to water solution will also work to scrub away any messes on the shelves inside.

Coffee Maker

If you're addicted to the convenience of one-cup coffee makers, sweep away leftover coffee grounds with a toothbrush. Every 3-6 months run a descaling brew to get rid of any internal build-up by filling half the water reservoir with white vinegar and running several brew cycles without the K-cup. Then rinse, fill with clean water and repeat until the water is gone to get rid of any vinegar smell.

Dishwashers

Mineral deposits taking over the inside of your dishwasher? Try this hack: Pour a packet of lemonade Kool-Aid into the detergent slot of the dishwasher. Let a cycle run, and watch the stains disappear.

Washing Machine

A washing machine can get bogged down with soap and minerals after dozens of washes. Pour about a quarter cup of vinegar into the machine or the equivalent amount of detergent per load, and set the machine through a wash cycle to put it back on track to bringing out the best in your clothes.

Dryer

Ensure clothes are getting their driest by going beyond just cleaning out the lint trap. Every couple months, remove the lint trap and use a vacuum with a nozzle attachment to grab any lint that made its way back to the dryer's body. Wipe both the dryer and washing machine with a damp microfiber cloth.

Photo By: Eric Perry

DVD Player

Unplug the DVD player from the TV and wall, and wipe it down with a cloth. Spray with a can of compressed air for hard-to-reach areas. If discs are consistently skipping, the inside of your DVD player needs cleaning. To do this, remove the top portion of the player, and blow dust out with compressed air. If you're not comfortable getting into the nuts and bolts of the device, use a DVD lens cleaner instead.

Photo By: Niels Laan

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