Ask Dr. Steel: “How Do You Clean Stainless Steel?”
Congratulations! Your new kitchen looks fabulous. Stainless steel cooktop, refrigerator, dishwasher and appliances all around make the kitchen look bright, shiny and new! So now the important question arises, “How do I keep my kitchen and appliances looking new for years to come? How do I properly take care of stainless steel?” Though most of your familiar cleaning techniques still apply, there are some special precautions and procedures you should know about to keep your stainless steel appliances looking beautiful for years to come. Let's examine the proper cleaning techniques and show you some of the tricks of the trade.
Stainless steel is a very easy finish to keep clean. Ordinary day to day cleaning involves nothing more than using soap and water, or an antibacterial cleaner, to clean up the everyday messes that come up in the kitchen. However, there are some special procedures that will benefit your new stainless steel appliances. Since stainless steel is an alloy of iron which contains chromium that helps form the top protective layer on the steel, there are a few important things to know about it.
Stainless steel will occasionally dull or show fingerprints. In fact, the main drawback people sometime have against stainless steel is that it brings out fingerprints more than any other type of finish because of the oil in our skins. To remove fingerprints you have several choices. You can use a mixture of soap and water, but if you have hard water or don't remove the soap completely you can leave behind streaks and water marks. The best way to remove fingerprints is to use another item found in most kitchens – olive oil! Olive oil will remove fingerprints and streaks from stainless steel without harming its finish. You don't need to use a lot, just dab a paper towel in olive oil and use it to clean the surfaces of most stainless steel appliances. You will be amazed by the results!
If your appliances become dull, as they will through normal use, you can bring back their showroom shine by using vinegar. White or cider vinegar dabbed onto a damp cloth will bring back the shine of stainless steel while protecting the coating of the steel. Vinegar is also an excellent cleaner and will help remove smudges and other marks that may show up on your appliances through normal wear and tear.
Cooktops and other appliances can occasionally get heat stains. These usually occur when a hot pan or pot is placed directly on the stainless steel. It can sometimes look as if the steel has an imperfection after this happens. However, don't worry as we can take care of that easily! Get some club soda and dampen a cloth with it to rub out the heat stains. If the heat stain is especially prominent you may have to use some elbow grease and a fair quantity of the club soda. Rub it a circular pattern flipping the cloth and adding club soda as needed. The heat stain will disappear and your stainless steel will be looking bright and new in no time!
Now let's examine what you should never use to clean stainless steel. Stay away from all steel wool pads and harsh scouring powders such as Comet and Bon-Ami. These will scratch your stainless steel surface because of the abrasives found in them. You surface will still be protected, because stainless steel will re-form its protective layer, but the scratches can be an eyesore at best, especially on new appliances.
Finally, if you want to give your stainless steel a professional touch every so often you can purchase specially formulated stainless steel cleaners and oil from many hardware and appliance stores. These will not only clean and brighten stainless steel, but also can sometimes help hide small scratches that might otherwise distract from the appearance of the appliance.