How to Clean Your Stainless Steel Appliances & Sink 

When you blend the following substances—carbon, chromium, nickel, manganese, silicon, phosphorous, sulfur, and nitrogen—you get stainless steel. These materials are what make the steel “stainless,” and act like a protective layer that prevents rust corrosion.  With their pristine gleam, stainless steel appliances have grown increasingly popular over the years. The allure of stainless steel is its versatility and ability to blend seamlessly into any modern kitchen layout.

The only true knock against stainless steel is the routine maintenance it requires. Although beautiful and elegant, surface dirt, sticky fingers, and uncooperative ketchup bottles can quickly detract from that beauty. Your glistening appliances can easily succumb to smudges, streaks, fingerprints, water spots, and spills. That means taking precious time out of your day to keep your appliances looking good as new. Instead of spending more time cleaning your appliances than using them, there are a few easy ways to clean and preserve stainless steel to keep surfaces shining and sparkling.

Stainless Steel Cleaning Basics

With a little elbow grease and some at-home cleaning solutions, you can remove unwanted smudges quickly and easily. Before sprucing up your appliances, check the user manual for cleaning instructions or recommended polishes. You should avoid any harsh or abrasive chemicals that can leave a dirty film behind or stain the finish. Be sure to use a cleaner that’s safe to use on stainless steel, whether it’s a store-bought or DIY solution. Always spot-test the cleaner on a small area of the appliance before wiping it down entirely.

Also avoid using scouring powders, steel wool, bleach, and ammonia, all of which can damage the texture and glossiness of the finish. Some manufacturers even advise against using glass cleaners on stainless steel as they can leave streaks and damage the finish over time. Keep in mind that there are different types of stainless steel. and you might need to do some experimenting before you hit on exactly what works best for your specific appliance. In fact, if you have several stainless-steel appliances, each one might require a slightly different cleaning approach. There are a few major don’ts across the board when it comes to cleaning stainless steel:

  • Avoid using steel wool or any other abrasive sponges or scrubber pads.
  • Don’t use any chlorine-based cleaner or anything with chloride in it.
  • Don’t use an oven cleaner.
  • If your tap water is harsh, it might leave spots or stains.

5 Stainless Steel Cleaning Options

Option 1: Dip a soft microfiber cloth in warm water and mild dish detergent. Choose a detergent with degreasing properties. Using a separate dishcloth, wipe the metal surface along the grain to prevent water spots.

Option 2: Make a paste of baking soda and warm water for grease and food smudges. Use a clean microfiber cloth to gently rub the metal surface along its grain. Wipe clean with a wet cloth and towel dry.

Option 3: Spray distilled white vinegar onto your appliance and rub gently into the surface. Wipe away the vinegar with a microfiber cloth in the same direction as the grain. Olive oil will help produce a shiny finish. Use an additional clean cloth to rub a small amount of olive oil onto the appliance, while working with the grain to prevent streaks.  

Option 4: Dilute dishwashing liquid in warm water in your kitchen sink or bucket. Apply a small amount of this cleaning solution evenly over your stainless-steel appliances using a microfiber cloth. To get rid of fingerprints and smudges, wipe with the grain and leave to dry. With another clean cloth, apply a small amount of baby oil to the surface. The baby oil will help restore the shiny, like-new appearance of your appliance.

Option 5: Fill a spray bottle with club soda and spray it onto the surface of your appliance. Use a clean microfiber cloth to wipe along the metal’s grain, just as you did with the previous methods.

Removing Spots and Stains on Stainless Steel

If you are dealing with spots or stains on your stainless steel, dampen a sponge, then sprinkle baking soda on its surface, and rub it in a circular motion over the stainless steel (or, if it’s a flat surface like a sink, just sprinkle the baking soda over it rather than on the sponge). It will remove the stains, then you can clean with one of the everyday methods above. If you’re trying to remove a rust stain, use straight vinegar.

If you have hard water, you may not want to use warm water to clean your appliances. Mineral deposits found in hard water are notorious for leaving spots or stains on stainless steel appliances and sinks. If you are determined to use water, opt for distilled water instead or use one of the cleaning solutions and methods outlined above. 

If you are looking to simplify your cleaning routine even further, don’t bother setting a schedule, just clean your appliances while you cook. Wipe down the cooktop when you’re done stirring the sauce or sautéing those veggies,  Spills and cooking-related messes should always be cleaned immediately, but aesthetic touchups are key for keeping a spotless and sparkling kitchen space. 

Cleaning Your Stainless Steel Sink 

When stainless steel sinks get particularly gunky, your first inclination might be to reach for steel wool – but don’t. Abrasive scrubbing can cause tiny cuts and cracks that can rust over time. The best way to clean your stainless steel sink is to liberally sprinkle some baking soda in there and “scrub” the surface with the soft side of your sponge (even the abrasive side of your sponge can be too abrasive). 

Here are some helpful tips to keep your  stainless steel sink looking brand new:

1). Rinse and Wipe It Down  After Each Use

One of the most important ways to keep your stainless steel sink from looking dull is by preventing water spots. Wipe the sink completely dry after every single use to keep water from drying and leaving spots. It’s also important to rinse and wipe down the sink frequently to prevent any food bits or cleaners from sticking to the surface.

2). Add a Bottom Grid to Avoid Scratches

Scratched stainless steel can cause food and chemicals to get stuck on the sink’s surface, leading to corrosion and rust. It might be tempting to add a rubber mat to the bottom of the sink to prevent scratches, but food and chemicals can get trapped under the mat, too. Instead, add a metal grid to allow water and chemicals to flow through the sink and down the drain.

3). Get Rid of Hard Water Stains With Vinegar

Vinegar is a perfect cleaner for stainless steel sinks, and you probably already have it in your pantry. When you’re done washing dishes for the night, try a rinse of vinegar to cleanse the sink and wipe dry. Repeat daily or weekly to keep your sink clean.

4). Buff Out Water Spots

Water spots will still happen from time to time. Polish your sink with a soft, lint-free cloth, like a microfiber cleaning cloth, to buff out the water spots and restore your sink’s shine.

5). Don’t Leave Items Sitting in Sink

To keep stainless steel sparkling, don’t leave food sitting in the sink. Wash dishes immediately or move them to the dishwasher rather than leaving them to soak. Rinse the sink after cleaning it, washing your hands, or pouring out salty pasta water

6). Remove Tough Stains with Baking Soda Paste

Baking soda is another DIY cleaning option that can help banish tough stains from your stainless steel sink:

  • Make a paste: Combine a half cup of baking soda with about 3 tablespoons of water to make a thick paste.
  • Clean with the paste: Apply the paste to the sink with a soft cleaning cloth or sponge.
  • Rinse the baking soda paste away with water or follow baking soda up with vinegar for more cleaning power. The vinegar and baking soda will fizz, and the vinegar can help polish the sink.
  • Wipe dry: Use a fresh, dry cleaning cloth to wipe the sink completely dry to prevent water spots.

7). Make It Sparkle With Club Soda

You can use club soda to make your stainless steel sink sparkle:

  • Put the stopper in the sink drain.
  • Pour in club soda. You don’t need a lot, just enough to cover the base of the sink.
  • Use a soft cleaning cloth to rub the club soda everywhere.
  • Rinse the sink, then dry it with a cloth.

8). Avoid Steel Wool

Steel wool and wire brushes are common household tools used for scrubbing out sinks, but these items are not suitable for stainless steel. They will scratch the sink and leave behind iron particles that can cause it to rust.

9). Restore Its Shine With Olive Oil  

If your stainless steel sink is clean but is still looking a bit dull, try some olive oil to make it shine:

  • Make sure your sink is clean and dry.
  • Add a few drops of olive oil to a dry, lint-free cloth.
  • Buff the sink with the cloth to restore shine.

How to Remove Rust From Your Stainless Steel Sink 

If your stainless steel sink has gotten rusty, here’s how you can remove it.

  1. Grab a bottle of powder, liquid, or spray that’s non-scratching and mildly abrasive.
  2. Rinse your sink with warm water so the entire surface area is wet.
  3. Put your chosen solution on a cleaning cloth or sponge.
  4. Scrub your stainless steel sink to remove excess rust.
  5. Rinse away the cleaner with warm water.
  6. Repeat this process until there is no more rust.
  7. Prevent potential water spotting by thoroughly drying your sink with an absorbent towel.

What Not to Use on Your Stainless Steel Sink

While you have many options to choose from when looking for an effective cleaning solution, you’ll want to steer clear of some things. The following products can wear down your sink’s protective layer and/or scratch the surface, so don’t waste your time or money on them.

  • Chloride cleaners
  • Highly abrasive cleaning sponges, brushes, or steel wool scrubbers
  • Highly abrasive cleaners
  • Bleaches and oven cleaners

In addition, never leave rubber dish mats, metal dish strainers, cast iron cookware, or wet sponges, rags, or towels in your sink. These items are known to cause rust to form on stainless steel.

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