How to Clean Stainless Steel Appliances

by Sandy L on November 23, 2010

Kitchen Almost Completed

Today I’m going to share the greenest and easiest way to clean stainless steel.   

Anyway, the photo on the left is our kitchen mid way through construction. You’ll notice that all my appliances are stainless.  What you don’t see is myself in the background pulling my hair out because I can’t figure out how to clean them without streaking. 

I went on a mission and tried every cleaning product known to man that was supposed to clean stainless.  The Weimenn’s spray cleaner was the one that seemed to do the best job, but I still couldn’t figure out how to buff it quick enough without the big dull streaks all over it. The problem with commercial cleaners is that many of them use a wax. After using them for a little while, the stainless loses it’s  shine and turns into a dull greyish color due to the wax buildup. 

Here’s my secret process. You’ll thank me later. 

1. First you must remove all the wax buildup. I used a baking soda+vinegar paste. It bubbles right up and it brought the fridge back to it’s original shine. 

2. You only have to do step 1 once. 

3.  Take a paper towel and put a small amount of olive oil on it. A little goes a long way, so it’s better to start small and put another dollop on your towel if you think it’s a little too dry. If you use too much, you’ll have to buff a lot longer in step 5. 

4.  Lightly coat your appliance with olive oil, just so that the entire surface has a thin coating. 

5.  Use a Clean Paper Towel to Buff to a Shine. 

That’s it.  

Olive Oil cleaner has the following benefits: 

  • It’s infinitely easier to buff without streaking.
  • It’s green.
  • It does not create a dull buildup on your fridge.
  • You can touch up with the same process in high traffic areas without having to re-clean the whole appliance.  In fact, if it’s a small fingerprint area, sometimes I can just take a dry papertowel and re-buff and the residual oil shines the fingerprint away.
  • Don’t worry, your fridge won’t look oily or smell. It’s a micron size coating and it’ll look great.

The Baking Soda/Vinegar Paste was also a life saver for another stainless problem. I ended up getting some mysterious drip marks on my dishwasher and fridge that seemed to etch themselves into my appliances. After some research I learned that there are different grades of stainless and some tend to stain and etch more than others. 

This was another mystery I solved. Again, I went through every cleaning product in my cupboard. I even scratched my fridge going a little too tough with my scotch brite pad (Note, use the blue non-scratch scrubbie, not the green one on appliances.)  

The baking soda/vinegar paste cleaned my drip marks. It took about 3 applications but it worked.  Make sure you use a non-scratch scrub pad. Also make sure you clean in line with the grain of the stainless so that you don’t have circular buff marks. 

Happy Cleaning.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

cleaning stainless steel November 23, 2010 at 4:53 PM

I am going to try the baking soda idea with vinegar on my stainless steel sink to see if it works


Everyday Tips November 24, 2010 at 9:40 AM

I have drip marks right now that are driving me crazy on my refrigerator.

I read about the olive oil a few weeks ago and it just seemed strange. I will try it now that you have vouched for it!


eemusings November 26, 2010 at 8:06 PM

But…but olive oil is so expensive! We don’t even hardly buy it for cooking.

Will have to remember this for the future. None of our current appliances are stainless steel 🙂 Wish I’d know this at our old house though.


Sandy L November 27, 2010 at 4:54 AM

Everyday Tips – You’ll have to let me know if it works.

Eemusings – I’ll admit that I use a different generic grade for my appliances. I’ve had the same bottle for over a year and I haven’t even put a dent in it. It’s got to be cheaper than buying cans of spray. They only last a couple of months.


Ianna Reign Stevenson January 29, 2015 at 3:46 AM

Great tips, I didn’t know that olive oil cleaner is effective. I always use vinegar as a DIY home cleaner, thank you for sharing this one.


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