Get the dirt on a handful of potentially damaging items that may harm your favorite kitchen features.

By Karla Walsh
May 13, 2021
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Side view of senior woman indoors at home, cleaning kitchen
Credit: Getty Images / Halfpoint Images

From sinks and stoves to refrigerators and dishwashers, stainless steel is now a mainstay in many of our kitchens. While it looks sharp and modern when squeaky clean, it shows off droplets, dust and smudges of all kinds much more readily than many other surfaces around your home. This is a great reminder to tidy-up those high-touch surfaces often, but is admittedly a hassle sometimes in terms of upkeep.

Luckily, it's a quick task to swipe stainless steel and make it shine in seconds, especially if you have the proper products at the ready. But you can potentially shine away your steel's finish if you use the wrong products, so it's vital to know the difference.

Read on to learn more about what to use with caution on your stainless steel, plus what to clean with instead—including DIY cleaning solutions that you can make with items you probably already own.

7 Cleaning Products You Should Never Use on Stainless Steel

Before you apply anything to your stainless steel appliances, it's helpful to get a refresher on your exact model through the product manual or website. Chances are, the manufacturer will mention which cleaning products are ideal as well as which may damage the finish.

As a general rule, however, you should avoid these tools and cleaners on stainless steel, as they may scratch the surface, stain or dull the finish:

  1. Harsh abrasives
  2. Scouring powders
  3. Steel wool
  4. Bleach and other chlorine products
  5. Glass cleaners that contain ammonia, such as Windex
  6. Tap water, especially if yours tends to be hard water (use clean distilled or filtered H2O instead)
  7. Oven cleaners

DIY Stainless Steel Cleaners

Often a soft cloth (like Casabella Infuse All-Purpose Microfiber Cloths; $4.99 for two, Target.com) that's damp with a bit of warm, clean, filtered water should be able to swipe off light grime. Towel dry after to avoid spotting or streaks. For dirtier jobs, consider one of these homemade cleaning solutions. (Note: Before applying to your whole appliance, spot-test your cleaner on a small patch that's as inconspicuous as possible, just to be sure it's compatible.)

White Vinegar Olive Oil

Place distilled white vinegar in a spray bottle (such as Grove Reusable Glass Spray Bottle, $13.99, Target.com). Spray the stainless steel appliance with vinegar, then wipe it away with a soft, clean cloth in the direction of the "grain" in the metal. With a second soft, clean cloth, rub on a light coating of olive oil in the opposite direction.

Club Soda

Place plain club soda in a spray bottle. Spray the stainless steel appliance, then wipe it away with a soft, clean cloth in the direction of the grain.

Dish Soap Baby Oil

In a bucket or large bowl, mix 1 teaspoon mild liquid dish soap (like Dawn Free & Clear Dishwashing Liquid Dish Soap; $3.79 for 24 ounces, Target.com) with 1 quart of warm water. Dampen a soft, clean cloth with this solution and swipe it in the direction of the stainless steel grain. With a second soft, clean cloth dampened with clean warm water, wipe off the residue. After this dries, use a third soft, clean cloth to rub on a light coating of baby oil going with the grain.

The Best Stainless Steel Cleaners You Can Buy

If you'd rather use a store-bought stainless steel cleaner, these are fan favorites and are safe on most appliances.

CLR Spotless Stainless Steel Streak-Free Cleaner
$7.48
SHOP IT
Amazon
Method Stainless Steel Clean and Polish
$5.99
SHOP IT
target.com
HOPE'S Perfect Stainless Stainless Steel Cleaner and Polish
$11.90
($13.12 save 21%)
SHOP IT
Amazon
Weiman Stainless Steel Wipes
$3.59
SHOP IT
target.com
Magic Stainless Steel Cleaner and Polish
$11.88
SHOP IT
Amazon

This story originally appeared on eatingwell.com