Image od someone wiping down a stainless steel fridge with a sponge.

5 tips for cleaning stainless steel naturally.

Last Updated: October 13, 2021

Stainless steel is durable and sleek, but it’s also prone to unsightly smudges. Read on for answers to all of your stainless steel cleaning questions.

Stainless steel is elegant and durable, but it’s also prone to unsightly smudges and sloppy smears. Even if you love your stainless steel appliances, you don’t have to love cleaning them — but with these quick and easy tips, you just might.

First, what is stainless steel?

To understand what makes stainless steel special, let’s talk about what steel is.

Steel is made up of mostly iron, which is prone to rusting and stains. Stainless steel has the addition of chromium to give the steel a little extra oomph, which makes it tremendously strong and rust- and stain-resistant.

Stainless steel is ideal for appliances that see a lot of use, but keeping it shiny requires regular TLC.

What are the best natural stainless steel cleaning products?

The best stainless steel cleaners include stuff you might already have in your kitchen:

Baking soda

Baking soda is a powerful all-purpose cleaner. Its slight abrasiveness won’t harm your stainless steel, but it will help unstick stuck-on stains.

Make a thick paste with baking soda and water (here’s how), and glop it on tough stains. Let it sit for 20 minutes, then wipe, rinse, and dry.

You can also try a Mrs. Meyer’s baking soda cream cleanser to ensure your stainless steel will be scratch- and streak-free.

Mrs. Meyers cleaning products and Grove Co. cleaning caddy

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Cleaning stainless steel

See those lines on your stainless steel? That’s the grain. The number-one rule of cleaning stainless steel is to wipe it in the direction of the grain to prevent scratches and a dull appearance.

Here are more must-know tips on how to clean your stainless steel appliances, like refrigerators, stoves, dishwashers, and more.

Blue sink illustration

How do you clean tough stains on stainless steel?

First, try the baking soda paste method.

If that doesn’t work, soak a clean microfiber cloth in a cup of steaming-hot vinegar, and lay it over the stain. Let it sit for 20 minutes, then wipe the stain away with the cloth.

Blue fridge illustration

How do you clean without getting streaks on stainless steel appliances?

Streaks are a bummer. If you wipe the surface of your stainless steel with dish soap or baking soda, rinse thoroughly afterwards.

If you use vinegar and still have streaks, fingerprints, or smudges, give your appliance another go with it.

Still streaky? Read on to learn how to shine your stainless kitchen appliances.

Orange stove illustration

What can I use to shine my stainless steel appliances?

Baby oil or olive oil will shine your stainless steel and make it look new, and it’ll leave a protective coating that helps prevent smudges.

Put a small amount of oil on a microfiber cloth, and buff the stainless steel in the direction of the grain.

Watch this video to see stainless steel cleaning in action:

Image of Method Stainless Steel Cleaner + Polish

Try a ready-made natural stainless steel cleaner

Want to make it super-extra easy to shine up your stainless steel without emptying your pantry?

Try Pure Sense Stainless Steel Cleaner & Protectant or Method Stainless Steel Cleaner + Polish.

How do you clean stainless steel pans?

Stainless steel cookware is dishwasher safe, but we prefer to do ‘em by hand. You probably know how to wash dishes by now (if not, we’ve got hacks for that). Wash your pans in warm, soapy water, and dry thoroughly.

To remove burnt-on or stuck-on food in your stainless pan, try one of these tricks.

Boil and scrub

Set the pan on the stovetop, and add a couple of tablespoons of baking soda and a quarter-inch or so of water.

Boil until the water evaporates, and use a microfiber cloth to scrub off the residue left behind.

Toss in a grab green pod

grab green makes these sweet Cookware & Bakeware Cleaner Pods that make quick work of cleaning stainless steel pans. Just put some water in the pan, toss in a pod, wait five to 10 minutes, then scrub.

Use a pan scraper

Full Circle Power Couple Pan Scrapers have a recycled plastic side that easily scrapes away hard-to-remove food from your stainless cookware.

(The other side is made from recycled nylon, which you can use on your nonstick and cast iron pans.)

Illustration of skull and bones crossed

What should you not use on stainless steel?

To avoid damaging your stainless steel appliances, keep these bad boys away from them:

  • Steel wool and other abrasive tools
  • Glass cleaners
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Mildew sprays
  • Chlorine bleach
  • Silver polish
  • Oven cleaners meant for the inside of your oven

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