How To Remove Stains From Stainless Steel

Kitchen sink
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Have you had a cleaning mishap that left brown stains on your stainless steel? For example, you may have sprayed a cleaner on your stainless steel sink and didn't rinse it. Later, you notice brown stains all over the sink. Is it possible to remove these stains, and what can you use to do the job without creating further problems?

How to Remove Stains from Stainless Steel

Many people are surprised to find that stainless steel can be stained.

Cleaning stainless steel can sometimes seem tricky, but is a very resilient surface. When problems happen, it is best to start with the basics to help repair the surfaces.

First, look at your stainless steel surface and determine which way the grain runs. You will want to rub in the direction of the grain rather than across the grain once you start cleaning. Now there are four methods to use to see which can remove the stains, starting with the least corrosive method.

  1. Steam Cleaning: Heat water to boiling in a kettle with a spout, so you'll be able to pour it. Place a paper towel or microfiber towel over the stained surface. Pour enough of the boiling water onto the paper towel to wet it. Allow it to steam for five to 10 minutes. By then, it will have cooled, and you can rub the surface with the paper towel with the grain. This may remove the stain. If it remains, go on to the next methods.
  1. Baking Soda and Dish Soap: Baking soda mixed with liquid dish soap can make a good paste to gently rub on stains. Use a microfiber cloth or other soft cloth to rub in the direction of the grain. Be sure to rinse the stainless steel surface thoroughly, and towel dry.
  2. Vinegar: If the stains remain, try vinegar. Pour a little white vinegar or apple cider vinegar onto the stained surface. Let it sit for a few minutes. Then rub it with a soft cloth following the grain of the steel. Remember to rinse thoroughly and towel dry.
  1. Stainless Steel Cleaner: If the stains still don't budge, try a stainless steel cleaner and polisher. Barkeeper's Friend is a good powder formula that can clean without scratching. Be sure to follow the directions, rinse thoroughly, and towel dry. These methods should help remove the discolorations.

Preventing Stains on Stainless Steel

You may know how the stains got onto your stainless steel or you may not. Here are tips to prevent stains.

  • Never use bleach or anything containing chlorine on stainless steel, and avoid spraying it nearby or having it drip onto stainless steel surfaces.
  • Don't use oven cleaners around stainless steel, either. Prevent any spray or drips from contacting stainless steel.
  • Don't use any abrasive cleaners on stainless steel, and prevent any scrubbing powder dust or specks from contacting stainless steel.
  • Don't use steel wool or other abrasive cleaning tools on stainless steel.