How to Clean Stainless Steel Countertops

Two bakers cleaning a stainless steel counter top
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Stainless steel is a common countertop that you see especially in a commercial kitchen. Stainless steel countertops hold up well to heat and are super tough. These countertops are popular in residential kitchens, too. These metal countertops have a polished modern appearance, but even they can get damaged and will start to look worn if not cared for properly. Take a look at some of the pros and cons of owning stainless steel countertops and how to clean and maintain those metallic surfaces.


Stainless steel countertops are usually easy to maintain. They can stand up to hot pans. Acid and oil spills are not a problem for stainless steel and will wipe away completely. Because stainless steel countertops are usually one piece, there are no seams to harbor food pieces or germs. As long as they are properly cleaned, there will not be any rust, corrosion, or other stains to deal with.


If you leave spills and debris on countertops, you may end up with big problems that can be unsightly and difficult to remove.

These countertops can be dented and scratched, although light scratches tend to become less noticeable over time, and seem to be part of the surface of the stainless steel. Larger dents and scratches may be impossible to remove without professional help and cost.

Stainless steel smudges and shows fingerprints. If you have stainless steel countertops or stainless steel appliances, you may feel that you are always wiping away fingerprint marks. Water left to dry on the surface will cause temporary spotting. This can be wiped away with a little glass cleaner. To prevent water spots, dry the stainless steel surface with a dry microfiber cloth or hand towel. 


To clean stainless steel, wash using water and a microfiber cleaning cloth. For tougher messes, add a few drops of dish soap. To clean and shine, you can use a glass cleaner on stainless steel surfaces. Manufacturers also make dedicated stainless steel cleaners that you might be interested in. Be sure to rinse any cleaners completely from the surface. You should also buff dry to prevent any water spots from forming on the surface. Water spots can permanently mar stainless steel if not removed, and they also dull the shine, making the surface look less beautiful.


For minor scratches, a nylon scouring pad can be used with the grain. Go slowly so that you do not alter the surface more than the surrounding area. Deep scratches will need the help of a professional. There is not a need to seal your stainless steel countertops, so other than scratches you will not need to do much seasonal maintenance. If rust makes it way onto your stainless steel, then that will need special care. You will want to follow the manufacturer's instructions, but in most cases, a baking soda paste or a nonabrasive cleaner like Bar Keeper's Friend can remove the rust and restore your stainless steel. Be sure to keep up with regular cleaning to keep rust at bay.