Your Complete Guide to Cleaning Stainless Steel Appliances

White and bright kitchen

Desiree Burns Interiors

Your kitchen is made up of different materials that require a whole slew of cleaning solutions, spray bottles, and tools. One of the more popular materials you'll find is stainless steel, found on ovens, microwaves, and sinks, just to name a few. As sleek and shiny as it is, it gets smudged and dirty a lot faster than you'd like.

Luckily, keeping it clear of grease and grime isn't as difficult as you might think. With the right tools and supplies, you'll be all set for scrubbing and shining.

Whether you're on a spring cleaning kick or you simply can't remember the last time your microwave got a good scrubbing, we have your expert guide on how to clean stainless steel appliances.

What You Need to Clean Stainless Steel

White and stainless steel appliances
Reena Sotropa

Before getting started, you'll want to take inventory and make sure you have all the necessary tools and supplies on hand. This job requires more cleaning power than a damp paper towel can provide.

Abe Navas, the general manager of Emily's Maids, a house cleaning service in Dallas, Texas, broke down exactly what you need in your cleaning kit to refresh your stainless steel.

Supplies:

  • Degreaser
  • Multipurpose cleaner
  • Microfiber cloth
  • Metal sponge
  • Regular sponge
  • Steam

Navas explains that multipurpose cleaners are great for most surfaces, including stainless steel, for removing dirt and grime. But, you'll need to go a step beyond this if stainless steel is a prominent material.

"If your kitchen prominently features stainless steel, then you should invest in a good degreaser," he says. "Use it with a metal sponge or regular sponge, apply it on the dirty surface, put a little bit of water, and wait for five minutes."

The metal sponge you may need to use with a degreaser, according to Navas, is also ideal for a good deep clean. It gets any stuck-on gunk off of your appliances that won't come off with a regular sponge.

If you just need a light cleaning, Navas explains that a microfiber cloth is perfect for wiping away dust and light smudges.

One extremely helpful component for cleaning stainless steel that many may not consider is steam.

"Steam is the MVP for cleaning stainless steel—the problem is, you have to get a steamer," Navas notes. "If you have one, you should use it, and if you have a lot of stainless steel, then you should invest in one. This method does work best combined with other materials, like soap or degreasers, but it will leave your surfaces sterile."

How to Clean Stainless Steel Appliances

Stainless steel oven
Katie Hackworth

Ariel Rothbard, TaskRabbit’s cleaning and organization expert, explains just how easy the process is, and adds that if you don't have the specialized cleaners on hand, you can still rely on ingredients that might already be in your pantry.

"My go-to is a combination of white vinegar and olive oil," Rothbard says. Here is her method for cleaning with this solution:

To Clean With White Vinegar and Olive Oil:

  1. First, pour the distilled white vinegar into a spray bottle to apply directly, and use a microfiber cloth to wipe the surface clean.
  2. Then, pour a very small amount of olive oil on another microfiber cloth and wipe it on the appliance. This will make the stainless steel shine without getting sticky.

Rothbard also recommends cleaning with the grain of your appliance to ensure a polished finish. She also offers the option of using dish soap and baby oil if you're without a special cleaner or olive oil and white vinegar.

To Clean With Dish Soap and Baby Oil:

  1. Start by dampening a microfiber cloth with water and dish soap.
  2. Then, wipe down your appliances with the solution.
  3. Following this, add a little baby oil to another microfiber cloth and buff your appliances to make that shine reappear.

Tips for Maintaining Stainless Steel

Green, white, and silver kitchen
Sarah Fultz Interiors

In between deep cleanings, Angela Bell, the head guide at Grove Collaborative, offered an extensive list of ideas to keep your stainless steel clean and in tip-top shape.

Dos for Stainless Steel

Bell recommends using cleaners sparingly and applying all cleaners to a cloth—not directly onto the appliance. Be cautious of jumping straight into scrubbing with a new formula, too.

"Do test an inconspicuous area first when trying out a new cleaner to ensure it will not leave streaking," she says.

Bell adds that you should clean up water spills—or any spills for that matter—ASAP. Otherwise, you could be left with unsightly stains and marks.

Don'ts for Stainless Steel

"Don’t get floor cleaners too close to the bottom of stainless appliances when washing floors," Bell says. "Floor cleaner or wax can cause unsightly build-up." Even though you may want to wipe up every single smudge and knick with a cleaner, she suggests doing it sparingly and not with cleaners or abrasive tools, as they can streak or strip shine.

Navas also provided a major don't: baking soda. "Don’t get me wrong, I love baking soda for multiple purposes, but cleaning stainless steel with that will only cause pain," he says. "You are better off with proper products."

As for Bell's last bit of advice? "I always like to clean my stainless appliances as the last step when deep cleaning my kitchen," she says. "It just feels like the finishing touch to make them shine."

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