Buff out ugly scratches in your shiny stainless steel appliances, using fine sandpaper and rubbing compound.
By the DIY experts of The Family Handyman Magazine
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How to Remove Deep Scratches in Stainless Steel
Stainless steel is a great look until you scratch it. Then it looks awful. But you can “sand” out the scratches with sandpaper (400 to 600 grit) and a sanding block, an abrasive pad, or with a rubbing compound. Or buy a stainless steel repair kit and get everything you need.
The sanding technique only works on plain (uncoated) stainless steel panels. Never try to get scratches out on simulated stainless steel or stainless panels with a fingerprint-resistant clear coat. Hint: If your appliance fingerprints easily, chances are it’s plain stainless steel.
Required Tools and Materials
Have the necessary tools and materials for this DIY project lined up before you start—you’ll save time and frustration.
Sandpaper (400- to 600-grit)
Sand the scratch off
The key on how to remove scratches from stainless steel is to start with the finest grit paper or pad and zigzag a stream of sanding fluid on it. Then sand the scratched area (photo). If the scratch won’t come out after sanding for a few minutes, move up to the next coarsest grit. When the scratch disappears, sand the rest of the panel until it blends in. You’ll have to develop a feel for the technique, so start on an inconspicuous area of the appliance panel.
There are a few compounds and cleaners that can be used to fill and smooth very light and minor scratches on the surface of stainless steel. Products that work include Bar Keeper’s Friend, Perfect-It Rubbing Compound and whitening toothpaste. If you decide to use a powdered compound, mix the a tablespoon of product with a few drops of water. It should be the consistency of toothpaste.
Rub the cleaner into the scratch
Pour the cleaner onto a clean microfiber cloth. For the paste, spoon about a quarter of the paste onto a cloth. Working in the same direction as the metal’s grain, rub the compound gently into the scratch. Because the compound isn’t abrasive, you can rub back and forth over the scratch. Continue rubbing, adding more compound as needed, until the scratch has been buffed away.
Wipe off excess compound
Soak a clean microfiber cloth with water. Wring out all the excess so the cloth is barely damp. Wipe the surface of the steel with the cloth to remove excess compound and shine the surface.