Stainless steel is everywhere. It is used in building, interior design, in the kitchen and bathroom, in our vehicles, homes, workplaces and in every area of life.
It’s one of those materials that is so ubiquitous that we stop noticing it after a while. But, look around you and you’ll see it more often than you might realise!
With that in mind, it’s probably a good idea to learn how to clean it properly.
Whether you want to keep your home clean, improve the look of architectural steel or something else, we have some tried and tested tips for cleaning stainless steel.
They aren’t rocket science and they don’t use fancy techniques or exotic products. Each uses the things we have in most homes or workplaces.
So, without further delay, let’s get onto those tips!
Stainless steel cleaning tips
The thing about stainless steel is that if you keep it reasonably clean, making it really clean doesn’t take long at all.
Especially when you use these tips!
Invest in microfibre cloths
Our first tip is to buy some microfibre cloths. They are exceptionally soft and pose minimal risk to steel.
They won’t scratch and they are very easy to use. They are also cheap and readily available from supermarkets or DIY stores.
Other cloths like tea towels or kitchen towels can be used but won’t give the same high quality finish as they aren’t as soft and may not be able to get into the grain as well as microfibre.
Wipe down regularly to prevent dirt buildup
Our first tip is to wipe stainless steel down regularly to prevent the buildup of dirt and to prevent stains and chemical corrosion.
A simple wipe down after use with warm water or a damp cloth can often be enough to avoid having to perform a deeper clean.
Use warm soapy water for more stubborn dirt
If the area doesn’t respond to warm water, add some washing up liquid to it and clean.
Be aware though, that some appliances use a clearcoat finish over the stainless steel. Read the instructions before using it, just in case.
Most appliances and kitchen items should be fine with washing up liquid, but it’s worth a quick check first.
Steam clean for stubborn stains
For more extreme or more stubborn stains, you can use a steam cleaner to free up the dirt and sterilise the area.
Again, make sure to check the manual first as some clearcoats can be removed with steam.
Otherwise, clean with warm soapy water, rinse off then apply the steam to the surface.
The advantage with steam cleaning is that it doesn’t require chemical cleaners or products and sterilises the surface at the same time.
Go with the grain
If you look closely at anything made of stainless steel sheets like worktops, splashbacks or appliances, there’s a distinct grain to it. Just like wood.
Clean along the grain and you’ll find it much easier to remove more dirt and stubborn stains.
While the grain is tiny, there’s enough space in there for dirt and liquids to congregate. Wiping with the grain helps remove it faster and more thoroughly.
Clean stainless steel with white vinegar and olive oil
If you don’t have a steam cleaner and don’t want to use specialist cleaning products, let’s go old school.
Use a spray bottle and add distilled white vinegar and some olive oil to create a thin emulsion.
Spray the mixture onto the stainless steel, leave for a minute and wipe down with a clean cloth. You can then wipe down with a little oil to form a protective layer on the steel and give it an amazing shine.
Sparkling shine with baby oil
You can use many types of oil on stainless steel but we find baby oil works very well.
It’s mild enough to not damage the surface or reduce the clearcoat protection. It’s also smooth enough to get into the grain of the steel for a more complete shine.
Wipe down the stainless steel with warm water and a cloth until all dirt has been removed. Wipe down again to dry the surface and apply the baby oil with another clean cloth.
Work along the grain and use sparingly, but ensure the whole surface is covered with the oil.
Work it in gently and then marvel at how shiny your steel looks!
Clean steel with WD-40
Most homes will have a can or two of WD-40 lying around, so this is a great tip.
If you want to clean an appliance, backsplash or somewhere else, using WD-40 is quick and easy. Just don’t use it on worktops or anything that touches food.
Clean down the surface with warm water and a cloth. Then spray directly onto the steel and wipe down.
The solution should give you a shiny surface and provide a thin protective layer that can help prevent further dirtying or staining.
WD-40 is a petroleum product, which is why you shouldn’t use it anywhere that will touch food. If your appliances use clearcoat, read the manual first.
Use a window cleaner for stainless steel
If you use spray window cleaning products, you can also use it on stainless steel.
As long as the product doesn’t have ammonia or vinegar in it, you can spray onto the steel and wipe down for an extra clean. Buff with a microfibre cloth for a little extra shine and your steel will look amazing!