Stainless steel is perhaps best known for its ability to resist corrosion and rust: it’s in the name, after all. While it is quite resistant to staining, people who have stainless steel appliances know that they can’t just rely on stainless steel’s natural resistance to keep it clean and polished. Water stains and fingerprints are the most common things that more stainless steel appliances but with their high price tag, you will want to keep them looking their best and in tip-top shape. Polishing stainless steel appliances is one of the best ways to ensure a lifetime of use
Polishing Stainless Steel: When?
When it comes to polishing your stainless steel appliances and surfaces, preventative maintenance will go far. A quick daily wipe down of a stainless steel sink will help it to keep its shine. Once you’re finished cleaning the last dish for the day, use a sponge or a microfiber cloth to give your stainless steel sink a good wipe down and remove any water drops before they have a chance to dry on the stainless steel surface and stain it.
This is especially important if you have hard water as it tends to leave more residue. For stainless steel appliances, doing the same once a week will help to keep them nice and shiny. Obviously, if you spill something on one of them as your cooking they will need some additional cleaning.
When it comes to polishing stainless steel instead of cleaning it, it really depends on the amount of use you put your stainless steel appliances and fixtures through. If you cook with them every day, you might want to polish once a month. Those who don’t cook as often can take a longer time between polishing.
When using less abrasive polishing methods, there is really no harm in polishing more often. With harsher chemicals, over polishing could damage the appliances so if you are a fastidious person who wants to keep their stainless steel clean and polished, stick with the less harsh methods of polishing stainless steel.
What Are the Best Ways to Polish Stainless Steel?
The absolute best way to consider polishing your stainless steel appliances and fixtures is to use the least harsh methods of cleaning and polishing them before looking to cleaners with harsh chemicals that might damage the stainless steel; or at the very least make it more prone to damage. As you will see in the following list of different ways of polishing stainless steel, there are several that use common household items as simple as flour and a cotton rag.
Stainless steel, like wood, often has a grain. When cleaning and polishing stainless steel appliances and fixtures, make a note of that grain and always wash and polish your stainless steel with the grain. You can ignore the grain when you’re polishing stainless steel, but going against the grain might allow more cleaning residue to get into the tiny crevices that make up the grain. This makes the stainless steel more susceptible to staining, so it should be avoided.
Vinegar & Olive Oil
One of the least abrasive and easiest ways for polishing stainless steel is to use vinegar and olive oil. Using a spray bottle for the vinegar makes this incredibly easy. Simply spritz the vinegar on the surface and let it sit for a few moments. Use a microfiber cloth to wipe it clean, remembering to go with the grain. Add a dab of Olive Oil to a clean towel and use it for polishing the stainless steel, again with the grain. Finally, use another clean microfiber cloth to wipe away any excess olive oil.
Both white and cider vinegar will work for this method for polishing stainless steel but cider vinegar has a much more pleasant aroma as a bonus. This two-step process uses the acid in the vinegar to remove any grime before the olive oil is used as a polish. If you have some particularly stubborn grime on your stainless steel appliances or fixtures, repeat the vinegar step as needed
Dish Soap & Mineral Oil
For this method of polishing stainless steel, you’ll need to microfiber cleaning rags. Pure cotton often works best as it leaves no residual lint. Paper towels can work in a pinch but will often leave paper lint behind. The only other supplies you will need our dish soap and mineral oil. Moisten one of the rags and apply a small amount of dish soap. Wipe with the grain remove any excess oil or grime before you begin polishing the stainless steel. Go over any areas that need extra cleaning, such as persistent fingerprints. Use a clean towel to dry any water streets left over after you have wiped it down with the dish soap towel.
With your second cleaning rag, dab it with a tiny amount of mineral oil: only a few drops will be needed. Other oils, such as baby oil, or olive oil, can also be used if you do not have any mineral oil. Use that oil rag for polishing stainless steel, as with the cleaning step continue to polish with the grain.
This might sound like an odd idea but it works: honest. As flour dust can create a bit of a mess, this method is often best used only for stainless steel sinks and maybe stainless steel pots that are small enough to fit in your sink. To begin, clean the sink as best you can. You should remove any dust or grime before you begin polishing stainless steel with flour. Next, dry as completely as possible. Now comes the fun part: dumping some flour into the sink. Finally, to polish, use a soft cloth and buff the sink until it shines like new. Wash any extra flour down the drain.
When it comes to polishing stainless steel, club soda is a surprisingly handy way to get rid of fingerprints and food residue, leaving the stainless steel appliance or fixture with a nice shine. Add a little club soda a spray bottle and apply directly to the appliance. Use a microfiber cloth to wipe it clean, remembering to follow the grain. Club soda has a tiny amount of potassium citrate which helps it to get rid of those persistent fingerprints. Seltzer or still water will not have as great of an effect.
What can’t WD-40 do? Who knew that polishing stainless steel was among its many uses? Since WD-40 is petroleum-based, you should take extra care when using it in polishing stainless steel appliances or fixtures that will come into contact with food later on.
Spray a small amount of WD-40 on their stainless steel appliances or fixtures and then use a cotton microfiber cloth to wipe it away with the grain. Not only will this clean and polish your stainless steel but it adds an extra layer of protection against those persistent fingerprints.
Lemon Oil Based Furniture Polish
Here, we start to get to the harsher and potentially damaging ways of polishing stainless steel. Use a tiny amount of lemon oil-based furniture polish and never apply it directly to the stainless steel. Always apply it to a clean cloth instead. Once you’ve applied this to the cloth, rub it on the stainless steel appliance or fixture and then use another clean cloth to wipe any residual furniture polish off.
This is a method of polishing stainless steel specific for fingerprint stains. The oils and dirt on people’s fingers tend to leave the most annoying marks on your stainless steel appliances and fixtures; especially if you have young children. As with the 11 oil-based furniture polishes, apply a small amount of glass cleaner to a microfiber cotton cloth and apply to the stainless steel appliance or fixture in a circular motion with the grain. Repeat this as necessary using another clean towel to wipe it down, removing any residual glass cleaner
Commercially Available Stainless Steel Polish
If any of the above, less harsh, methods fail to give your stainless steel appliances or fixtures the shine you want, it’s time to bring in the big guns and use a commercially available stainless steel polish. These tend to have higher price tags and contain more chemicals and harsh solvents, so it is best to use them minimally. Follow the directions on the container for their use. Microfiber cotton cloths will probably do as well as any specialized stainless steel polishing cloth, so stick with them even when using the expensive polish
What Results Can You Expect?
With preventative maintenance and regular cleaning and polishing, you can keep your stainless steel appliances and fixtures as shiny and new as they were when you purchased them. It is only when you allow maintenance to back up or leave stains too long that you will have issues in getting your stainless steel back to it good as new shine.
Stainless steel appliances have an elegant and modern look to them, and despite the name they do require some maintenance to keep them looking their best. That maintenance, however, should be easy if you follow the steps outlined in the article above. Keep polishing your stainless steel appliances and fixtures.