How to clean stainless steel appliances and cookware

Is there anything better than the look of a brand-spanking new kitchen with glistening stainless steel appliances? Unfortunately, that look doesn’t last long. Cleaning stainless steel appliances is a sure and small way to bring a kitchen back to life. Tackle this project on a gloomy Saturday, before hosting guests, or during your seasonal deep clean to say goodbye to smudges, food stains, and fingerprints and hello to appliances that look like new.

pile of stainless steel cookware in sink

Table of contents

Before you start cleaning Supplies you’ll needOption 1: Dish soapOption 2: Mineral oilOption 3: Surface cleanerOption 4: Vinegar or club sodaOption 5: Baking soda

Before you start cleaning

Cleaning stainless steel can be as easy as using a stainless steel cleaner for a deep clean or a cloth dipped in hot water for an easy daily touch-up. 

Before starting, make sure you look up any specifications for your appliances and other stainless steel items, which can be found in the product manual, as they may differ in grade, durability, and how they react to various cleaning products.

A household favorite for an everyday touch-up is a mixture of vinegar and baby oil. is Spray vinegar to prime the surface and then take a small amount of baby oil to remove any stuck-on gunk and make the stainless steel shine. 

Finally, always determine the direction of the grain—it will either be horizontal or vertical—before you begin to wipe, and wipe in that direction. Doing so will maximize shine and minimize streaks.

Supplies you’ll need

  • Dish soap

  • Baby oil

  • Windex

  • Club soda

  • White vinegar

  • Baking soda

  • Microfiber cloth

  • Stainless steel cleaner

You can use these cleaning products and methods on appliances, sinks, pots, and pans alike.

Always avoid scouring powders, anything abrasive like steel wool, and harsh chemicals like bleach, chlorine, and ammonia, as they can stain, scratch, and leave streaks.

Option 1: Dish soap

Combine dish soap or detergent with hot tap water in a ratio of 1 tsp soap to 1 quart hot water. With a microfiber cloth, tackle small sections of the stainless steel with the homemade solution. Make sure to wipe with the grain to avoid streaks. Once done, wipe the surface with clean hot water and dry with a clean soft cloth. Not doing so can also leave streaks.

Option 2: Mineral oil

With a bit of elbow grease, buff a mineral oil such as baby oil into any areas where there is buildup on the surface. This will help break it down and restore sheen.

Option 3: Surface cleaner

A mild surface cleaner like windex can be a simple fix for streaky stainless steel. Simply spray and wipe with the grain.

Option 4: Vinegar or club soda

Fill a spray bottle with club soda or equal parts white vinegar and water. Lightly spray over the surface of the appliance. Shine appliance by rubbing over with a clean damp microfiber cloth along the grain. If you don’t have a spray bottle, pour vinegar directly into microfiber cloth and wipe away stains. Follow again by wiping the surface down with a clean microfiber cloth that is dampened with hot water.

Option 5: Baking soda

Using baking soda is an easy albeit messy way to deep clean stainless steel and remove stubborn buildup. Make a baking soda paste by adding water to baking soda until the desired consistency. Scrub into marks and build-up on the stainless steel and let sit for 20 minutes. Clean off any residue with a clean, damp microfiber cloth.

Looking for an apartment with stainless steel appliances? Bungalow offers private rooms in shared homes that feature modern kitchens and shiny, stainless appliances. Find a Bungalow near you.

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