Learn How To Clean Your Stainless Steel Appliances

A step-by-step guide to getting those surfaces back to new.

Ahh, childhood. That time in your life when you played hopscotch, watched cartoons, and didn’t notice every dang fingerprint on your stainless steel appliances.

But alas, being irritated at smudges on your fridge is actually a very good sign that you’ve ~~turned into your mother~~ matured into adulthood excellently. (Other watch-out signs: you clean your windows diligently and have a special place in your heart for glistening hardwood floors.)

It’s a peculiar thing - how many streaks and smudges we leave on our stainless steel appliances. Like a roadmap of everywhere our dirty fingers have been. Do we simply miss the handle on the fridge every time we open it? Or is our aim just completely off when it comes to getting the toast out of the toaster? These are riddles we simply can’t answer. Thankfully, cleaning your stainless steel appliances is right in our wheelhouse. So let’s go.

Optional: Pre-treatment

If the stainless steel coating on your fridge, microwave, oven, and dishwasher are begging for your attention, you can optionally pre-treat the areas by spritzing them with non-distilled white vinegar and wiping them down with a dry cloth. This step can sometimes help remove grime before you get extra serious in the next few steps.

Step 1: Prep

Time to get to business. Reach for a highly concentrated dish soap like Dawn and a wet sponge to start the makeover process. Pour a couple of drops of the dish soap onto the wet sponge and scrunch it a few times to activate the foam and bubbles, releasing that all-important cleaning enzymatic magic. Whatever you do, avoid using harsh abrasives like steel wool, bleach, or ammonia, all of which can damage the finish big time.

Step 2: Wash

Run your fingers across the stainless steel and determine which way the grain is going. (Yes, just like wood, your stainless steel has grain!) Start at the top of the appliance and wash in the direction of the grain. If the grain is going side to side, use a sideways motion to wash, eliminating any risk of scratching the surface. If your grain is top to bottom, move your sponge up and down for a careful but deep clean.

Step 3: Rinse and dry

Once you’re done washing the coating of your stainless steel appliance, make sure to rinse any excess residue and then dry the surface down thoroughly with a cloth. Doing so will prevent any water spots (created from water minerals drying on the surface) from showing up when you’re done, creating more headaches than you started with.

If you’re looking for the perfect cloth to use, we recommend a microfiber towel, which is made up of a soft, synthetic material. Microfiber towels are great because unlike paper towels or napkins, they don’t leave any trails of lint behind. (We’ve all seen the unfortunate streaks of white lint after doing a deep clean, only to have to start over again. Ugh!)

Got an especially tough splatter on your stainless steel appliance? Remove baked-on food or grease by making a paste with baking soda and warm water. (Generally, the proportions are three parts baking soda to one part water.) Gently rub the mixture on the surface with a sponge until the greasy residue is gone, then wipe with a clean, wet cloth and towel dry.

Alternatively, you can use a high-quality product like Mr. Clean Clean Freak to wipe out any trouble spots, which does wonders at cutting away grease and eliminating odors. (Pro tip: it works equally well on countertops and other non-porous surfaces in your home, so that’s even more bang for your buck!)

What about scratches, gouges, or dings? If you notice a more significant blemish, the first thing to do is assess whether or not your appliance is stainless steel or simply has a stainless steel coating. Unfortunately, if it’s a coated appliance, there’s not much you can do to reverse the damage. In fact, using a stainless steel repair kit will only worsen things.

If you determine that your appliance is true stainless steel, run your fingers over the damaged area. If you can feel an indentation, use a pair of clamps to hold an ice cube over the dent. Hopefully, the dent will pop out on its own. If you’re dealing with deep scratches or gouges, it’s a good idea to buy an appliance-approved stainless steel cleaner kit and apply it to the affected area, making sure to follow the directions on the label.

That’s it. Some incredibly easy tips for making your stainless steel appliances look like new. What on earth were we doing putting our greasy, little hands all over them in the first place? We simply have no idea. But we hope we’ve offered some nice and easy ways to do away with the smudges. As mom always says, a clean kitchen is a happy kitchen. If that’s any indication of our own internal happiness when the cleaning is done, the outlook is very, very good, indeed.

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