A dear friend asked me to tackle cleaning stainless steel appliances and I’m always happy to try to help people. In spite of the name, stainless steel does stain. Unfortunately, I don’t have a stainless steel refrigerator, stove, or dishwasher. I don’t even have a stainless toaster. So I’m going to try cleaning the stainless on my Bunn coffee maker with a couple of these methods and give my opinion on them.
The best practice is to wipe down your stainless appliances with a damp, soapy cloth every time you do the dishes. Rinse with clean water and then dry the appliance with a soft towel. If you find you’ve missed this step a time or two and need to clean your stainless, here are some tips.
First, it’s critical you know what not to do and what not to use to clean stainless steel.
- Don’t clean any stainless surface unless it’s cool to the touch.
- Don’t use chlorine bleach or any product containing chloride.
- Don’t use steel wool, steel brushes, or highly abrasive scrubbing pads. They can scratch and may leave residue than can rust.
- Don’t use oven cleaner.
- Don’t use abrasive cleaners on brushed stainless steel.
- Don’t use excessively hard water, dirty or gritty water.
Read the owner’s manual, if you have it, and follow those care and cleaning instructions first. Some stainless steel appliances are coated with a clear coat finish and certain products can strip that finish.
- Find the “grain” of the stainless steel and always clean following it.
- Start at the top of the appliance and clean downward.
- Give your appliance an initial wipe down with undiluted vinegar, rinse with clean water, and dry with a soft towel.
- If there is heavier grease or baked on food use a mild detergent in hot water and gently rub with a nylon scrubbing pad. Immediately rinse with clean water and dry with a towel to prevent water stains.
- If the stains are still visible make a paste of baking soda and liquid dish detergent. Use a nylon scrubbing pad or an old toothbrush to gently scrub. Rinse with clean water and dry.
- If stains are still there try undiluted vinegar, scrubbing gently with an old, soft toothbrush. Again, rinse with clean water and dry.
Periodically, buff the appliances with a stainless steel polish or lemon oil to maintain the lustrous finish. Apply in the direction of the grain using a lint-free cloth. Buff and dry with a second lint-free cloth. I really love used surgical towels for anything requiring a lint-free cloth.
Some of the non-abrasive cleaners for stainless steel are 3M Professional Grade, Bar Keeper’s Friend (a personal favorite), Sprayway, Weiman, and Cerama Bryte. Always test new cleaners on a spot that will not show before applying it to the main part of the appliance. Another fan favorite is CLR’s Stainless Steel Cleaner.
Don’t use any pastes or sprays meant for cleaning decorative elements like backsplashes or handles on stainless used for cooking. Do not use silver dip polishes like the ones used to clean jewelry because they are corrosive to stainless steel.