How to Clean Stainless Steel

Stainless steel kitchen appliance
Alberto Guglielmi/Getty Images

Stainless steel is known for its ability to resist corrosion and rust, which is why it's a popular choice for kitchens and bathrooms. However, dirt, dust, and grime, can put stainless steel at risk for corrosion and rust. Luckily, it responds well to cleaning, as long as you follow certain rules.

The key to keeping stainless steel stainless clean is proper care and maintenance. In general, it's best to start with basic cleaning and work your way up as needed. With just a little effort, your appliance or countertop will shine on!

Warm Water

Warm water and a cloth will be sufficient for routine cleaning. This is the least risky option for stainless steel, and plain water really is your best cleaning option in most situations.

After cleaning, dry your stainless surfaces with a towel or cloth to prevent water spots. This is really important since minerals in water can leave marks on stainless steel.

For best results, wipe in the directions of the polish lines. Microfiber cleaning cloths are a great option for stainless steel because they will absorb all the water and won't scratch the surface.

how to clean stainless steel
Illustration: Nusha Ashjaee © The Spruce, 2018 

Dish Soap

For cleaning that needs a little more power, a drop of mild dish detergent and warm water can do a great job. This combination will not damage your stainless steel and it's generally all you need to get the tougher dirt off.

You can start with a small sink of warm water and add a few drops of dish soap. Another option is to put a small drop of dish soap on a cloth. Add warm water to the cloth and rub in the dish soap to suds up your cleaning cloth. Wipe down the dirty area.

After you have washed away the dirt, rinse the surface thoroughly to prevent staining and spotting. Don't forget to towel dry to prevent water spots.

Glass Cleaner or Ammonia

Fingerprints are one of the biggest complaints about stainless steel. You can take care of them by using glass cleaner or household ammonia.

It's often best to spray whichever cleaner you're using onto a microfiber cloth. You can spray directly on the stainless steel, but you may end up with drips or waste cleaner unnecessarily.

Wipe the area gently in a circular motion to remove the fingerprint. Repeat as needed. Rinse thoroughly and towel dry.

There are some newer types of stainless steel finishes that resist fingerprints. This might be something to consider if your pint-sized helpers tend to leave their mark everywhere.

Stainless Steel Cleaner

If you have stains that are difficult to remove or scratches on the surface, a stainless steel cleaner may be a good option. Some of these cleaners can help minimize scratching and remove stains. They can also be used to polish surfaces.

Read and follow the directions carefully and be sure to test the cleaner in an inconspicuous spot first. When you're done, be sure to rinse the area thoroughly and towel dry.