Shining Stainless Steel

Dear Home Ec 101,
I just got some new stainless steel appliances–and they streak–and have blotchy places on them.
Any ideas?
Signed,
The Streak

shine stainless steel

Heather says:

You aren’t the first homeowner to fall for the gleaming lure of stainless. It’s so pretty there in the show room. What you don’t see are the legions of employees wiping down the appliances night and day.

We all know a few high maintenance types, right? You know, the lady who won’t leave the house until her make up is perfect and has her hair done weekly? Stainless steel finishes are a lot like her. The relationship can be beautiful, but it’s going to take some work.

You’re going to have to make a couple of decisions, I’m going to assume it is plain brushed steel, check with your manufacturer before following the given advice.

If you choose to go the homemade cleaner route remember with a water based cleaner (like diluted vinegar), fingerprints and smudges will show more quickly while oil based cleaners (some people swear by baby oil) tend to attract dust and streak. Whichever you choose, it needs to be applied to the whole panel of the appliance and rubbed in well, with the excess buffed away. I recommend using microfiber cloths for this chore. The appliances will still need to be wiped between cleanings.

You should also check your warranty to see if it requires you to use commercial products for cleaning.

how to clean appliances

Click the picture for more tips!

Finally, do NOT use Pledge Furniture Polish on your appliances, I don’t care what you read on some forum, this is a very bad idea. That silicone build-up is the devil to remove. (Don’t believe me on the silicone? Check out SC Johnson’s site What’sInsideSCJohnson.com. Dimethicone is listed under the heading “film formers”. Many thanks to SC Johnson Wax for helping consumers make informed decisions, I and many others appreciate that.)

The short version is this, whatever route of cleaner you choose, consistency is key. Frequent wiping will help keep the appliances from getting gunky and will make regular cleaning easier.

Send your domestic questions to helpme@home-ec101.com.



12 Comments

  1. Fredericka on March 4, 2013 at 7:00 pm

    Hello my friend! I want to say that this post is awesome, nice
    written and come with almost all important infos.

    I’d like to look more posts like this .

  2. casey on July 9, 2010 at 12:30 pm

    Would these methods work for stainless silverware also? My knives have wierd stains on them, the forks and spoons get clean in the dishwasher, but not the knives for some reason.

  3. Sunny on July 9, 2010 at 1:16 am

    Method brand stainless steel cleaner works great, I've had a small bottle for a couple years now, seems to prevent blotches too.

  4. Betty on July 8, 2010 at 6:42 pm

    Great ideas! Thanks so much for doing this post.

  5. Laurie on July 8, 2010 at 5:16 pm

    I recently read that ammonia (as in window cleaners) can cause stainless steel to develop little rust spots. Not sure if this is true or not. I have used it for 6 years without a problem. My newest solution, though, is plain water on a microfiber cloth. I think it works very well on smudges and is streak-free.

  6. caryn on July 8, 2010 at 2:01 pm

    homemade cleaning solution applied with a terry cloth rag…and buffed dry with "linen" (which is lint free) is my choice for ALL appliances…this has been my way to do this cleaning for fifty years and my mothers way for 80 years…..it works so why spend more money on things that might work….in my kitchen most things get a quick daily wipe and buff right after the dishes get washed, dried and put away.

  7. Tink on July 7, 2010 at 5:05 pm

    I agree %100 with Consumer Reports and seriously, don't go the homemade route unless you don't mind a lot of extra elbow grease.

    I'm a housekeeper by trade, more than half of my 29 clients have stainless steel appliances.I used to HATE cleaning those things. HATE HATE HATE!

    But then I found the Weimans cleaner at Walmart and Dollar General, now it's no big deal at all. Spray and wipe with a good microfiber cloth. Done. No polishing, no fingerprints, nothing. It's awesome.

    It's a little pricier than other brands, but that single can will last me weeks of daily use in several house per day, so in your home it will probably last months.

    BTW, they make a pretty dang good smooth stove top cleaner as well.

    • Tink on July 7, 2010 at 5:11 pm

      ….and no, I don't work for Weiman's or get paid for an endorsement. Their product just saves me a ton of time and does an excellent job.

    • chris on October 16, 2010 at 8:03 pm

      I have to say, that I too have come to LOVE Weimans, but I have come to find out that my walmart has stopped carrying it! So now have to find a new place to purchase it, I have been out of it now for a week and bought some other kind and it just streaked! Will be on the hunt for it tomorrow!

  8. @JayMonster on July 7, 2010 at 1:16 pm

    I have come to loathe my wife's decision to go with all brushed Stainless "Steel" (I put steel in quotes because apparently our refrigerator is brushed ALUMINUM… discovering this only when we realized that magnets do not stick to it.). It seems each and every one needs a different type of cleaner to reduce (we haven't yet removed) some blotchiness from each surface.

    If you are considering stainless steel for your kitchen, before you begin, my advise is… beware of what you are getting yourself into. As Heather noted, they are almost always "high maintenance" items to keep looking nice, which doesn't seem like a big deal for that first week or so while you are enjoying that shiny new item in the kitchen… but the routine of keeping it looking that way gets old real quick.

    • Lucy on July 8, 2010 at 12:19 pm

      Your fridge probably is stainless steel, as magnets don't stick to stainless steel.

      • David Martin on July 16, 2010 at 1:24 pm

        There are 2 types of stai;nless steel. One type is magnetic and not as rust resistant. The other type is non-magnetic and more rust resistant. Lower grades of non magnetic stainless (from China where quality control is poorly practiced) will develop rust spots.

Leave a Comment