How to Clean Stainless-Steel Appliances

Say goodbye to streaks and smudges with our top DIY and store-bought cleaning methods.

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As a new homeowner who has never had any stainless-steel appliances, I wasn't properly prepared for the challenge of keeping them 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.

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

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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 as I did, so here’s everything you need to know about keeping your stainless-steel appliances sparkling and streak-free.

The Basics of Cleaning Stainless Steel

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 might leave spots or stains.

The Best At-Home Methods for Cleaning Stainless Steel

Vinegar and 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 and 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

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.

The Best Store-Bought Methods for Cleaning Stainless Steel

$4.99

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

$10.99

Use this spray with a microfiber soft cloth for the best results.

$16.95

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.

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