How to Clean Stainless Steel

Updated: Apr. 19, 2024

Stainless steel appliances show every fingerprint, smudge and streak. Check out the best cleaning solutions, products and step-by-step instructions for how to clean stainless steel appliances.

cleaning stainless steel ovenkirstyokeeffe/Getty Images

While stainless steel resists rust and corrosion, there is a downside: the sleek appearance shows every single fingerprint, smudge, water spot and streak. Here are the best cleaning solutions, products and step-by-step instructions for how to clean stainless steel appliances.

Best DIY Cleaning Solutions for Stainless Steel

At-home solutions for cleaning stainless steel are easy, inexpensive and, most importantly, effective.

Use a simple combination of white vinegar and olive oil, or dish soap and baby oil, for regular cleans. Another cheap homemade option: club soda stored in a spray bottle.

We’ll show you how to clean stainless steel below.

Best Cleaning Products for Stainless Steel

If your stainless steel appliance has a lot of staining, scratching or needs a thorough polishing, a commercial stainless steel cleaner is a good option. Many stainless steel-specific cleaners minimize scratching and will remove tough stains. They also polish stainless steel surfaces for a long-lasting shine.

If you prefer store-bought cleaners over DIY solutions, Amazon customers swear by Weiman Stainless Steel Canister WipesSimple Green’s Stainless Steel One-Step Cleaner and Therapy’s Stainless Steel Cleaner + Polish are also popular products that work well on stainless steel refrigerators. Learn how to remove rust from stainless steel.

How to Clean Stainless Steel

Here’s how to clean stainless steel in four easy steps:

  1. Apply your concoction-of-choice, then wipe the surface with a microfiber cloth, going with the grain. (Not sure which direction the grain runs? Experts with Compact Appliance say to wipe opposite ways in side-by-side patches, to see if you can detect the difference.)
  2. Rinse your cloth, then wipe again, repeating until clean.
  3. Dry the cleaned surface with a fresh microfiber cloth.
  4. Finish the job by dabbing your dry cloth with a little olive oil, mineral oil or baby oil, and smoothing it over the surface. This will add shine, get rid of any remaining streaks and help prevent fingerprints.

Other Tips for Cleaning Stainless Steel

Fingerprint marks are common on stainless steel and can easily be removed with any common glass cleaner, such as Windex. While opinions differ on whether or not this is safe, plenty of people swear by it. To avoid drip marks and splatter residue, spray the cleaner onto a microfiber cloth, and then apply it evenly in a circular motion to remove the fingerprints.

Perhaps the oddest way to clean stainless steel appliances is by using WD-40. Simply spray some directly onto a rag, then wipe away.