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The Complete Guide to Cleaning Stainless Steel Appliances

Posted January 21, 2023 by Mike Lewis under Tips

The Complete Guide to Cleaning Stainless Steel Appliances

Why Clean Stainless Steel Appliances?

Keeping your stainless steel appliances clean is important for several reasons:

  • Prevents corrosion and rust: Stainless steel contains chromium that forms an invisible passive layer protecting it from corrosion. But grease, dirt, salt, and moisture can break down this layer over time leading to rust and corrosion spots. Regular cleaning helps maintain the protective layer.

  • Sanitation: Grease, food splatters, and dirt not only look unsightly but can also harbor germs and bacteria. Proper cleaning helps eliminate these and keeps your family safe from illness.

  • Looks brand new: Shiny, smudge-free, and fingerprint-resistant stainless steel appliances look modern and blend beautifully into your kitchen decor. Cleaning maintains that just-installed look and feel.

  • Improves durability: Letting stains and spills sit leads to etching and pitting of the steel over time. Regular cleaning prevents damage and extends the life of your appliances.

  • Maintains value: Should you ever plan to sell your home, clean and well-maintained appliances are more attractive to prospective buyers and fetch a higher resale value.

How to Clean Stainless Steel Appliances

Use gentle cleaners: Harsh chemicals like bleach, ammonia, or abrasive products will damage the finish. For day-to-day cleaning, mild soap and water work best. Specialized stainless steel cleaners also safely remove smudges and fingerprints.

Clean with the grain: Stainless steel has a visible grain or brushed pattern. Always scrub gently with the grain, not against, using a microfiber cloth or sponge. This helps preserve the finish.

Remove water spots and stains: Mineral deposits from water or calcium/lime buildup can leave spots. Use a little vinegar on a damp microfiber cloth to dissolve these. Wipe off any cleaner residue with plain water to prevent streaks.

Deal with grease and oil: For heavy grease or oil stains, use an all-purpose cleaner or mix a couple tbsp of dish soap in warm water. Let it sit for a few minutes before wiping to break down the grease. Rinse thoroughly after.

Make a DIY spray cleaner: Mix a solution of distilled white vinegar, rubbing alcohol, and just a drop or two of dish soap in a spray bottle. Spritz on and wipe down with a soft cloth. Rinse with plain water and dry with a microfiber towel for a scratch-free shine.

Use baking soda for tough stains: Make a paste with baking soda and water and apply to stubborn stains using a soft bristle brush. Let sit for a few minutes before rinsing and drying as usual. The gentle abrasive action will lift the hardened stains.

Remove fingerprints and smudges: These are common on stainless steel and accumulate rapidly. Use a few drops of baby oil on a paper towel to easily wipe away any fingerprints and oily residue without scratching the surface.

What Not to Do

  • Avoid bleach, ammonia, or abrasive cleaners and scrubs as they will damage the finish.

  • Don’t use steel wool pads or regular kitchen scrub sponges. Small loose fibers can get lodged in the grain causing rust.

  • Don’t rub too vigorously in an up-down direction. Always go with the grain using minimal pressure.

  • Don’t leave acidic foods (tomatoes, fruit juices) sitting too long. Wipe up spills immediately to prevent etching.

  • Don’t let soap or cleaning solutions dry. Always thoroughly rinse and wipe appliances dry to prevent streaking.

  • Avoid getting cleaners and liquids behind or underneath the appliances as they can drip down and etch the metal.

Maintaining That Factory Shine

With regular gentle cleaning using the right products and techniques, your stainless steel appliances can retain their luster for years.

Some extra tips for keeping them looking new:

  • Polish monthly using a stainless steel polish or cleaner and microfiber cloths to renew the protective layer.

  • Clean any fingerprints after every use. Oils from skin can slowly degrade the finish if left over time.

  • Use padded appliance covers to prevent scratches and dings when not in use.

  • Rinse and dry after cleaning. Any soapy residue or water spots left behind will accumulate over time.

  • Avoid contact with other metals that can scratch the surface.

  • Clean under the appliances occasionally to keep grime from dripping down and staining visible areas.

With the proper care and cleaning methods, your stainless steel appliances will withstand decades of regular use while still looking as immaculate as the day they were installed. Follow these tips and enjoy spotless, gleaming appliances that enhance your kitchen’s aesthetic.

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