Stainless steel appliances, especially those for the kitchen, remain very popular choices among American homeowners. They are preferred over other types of appliances primarily because of their ability to resist corrosion, but most especially rust. Their smooth and matte finish can give any kitchen a modern, sleek, and truly luxurious look. Its non-porous surface is also exceptional when it comes to resisting bacterial and fungal colonization. However, if you are not careful, even the most advanced stainless steel appliance can be vulnerable to rust, stains, and other signs of deterioration. It is, thus, important that you learn how to clean stainless steel pots, pans, kitchen gadgets and appliances, and anything else in your home that’s made of stainless steel.
Why Clean Stainless Steel
Stainless steel is composed of steel, chromium, and carbon. As such, it can be considered a steel alloy. We need to understand that the fundamental composition of steel itself is iron and carbon as well as other elements. The presence of iron in steel alloys presents the risk of iron oxidation or what we simply call ‘rusting’. When steel is combined with chromium, its rusting potential is somehow reduced. The more chromium is added to steel to form stainless steel, the better it is at resisting corrosion and rust. Other manufacturers of stainless steel also add molybdenum in their formulation to further increase rust-resistance.
Why are we saying this? Well, it will be wrong for us to assume that stainless steel will NEVER rust. It still can, provided the right conditions for rust-formation are also present. Cleaning your stainless steel appliances the correct way will help retain their rust-resistant characteristics and give you an appliance that looks as new as the day you unboxed it.
Essentials in Cleaning Stainless Steel Appliances
Whenever cleaning your stainless steel appliances, you should always look carefully at the grain or the general direction of the “steel fibers” of your appliance. It’s a lot similar to the grain in wood. It is important that you have a clear idea of the general direction of the grain.
In cleaning stainless steel appliances, it is best to move your cleaning materials in the direction of the grain. If the grain runs vertically, then you should wipe, rub, or clean your appliance in an up and down motion. Similarly, if the grain runs parallel to the floor or from left to right, then you should also move your cleaning materials in the same manner. This will help give your stainless steel appliance its classic shine.
Since we’re already talking about cleaning, let’s talk about the kind of cleaning material that works best on stainless steel surfaces. Abrasive scrubbing pads, steel brushes, and steel wool or any other cleaning material that has an otherwise rough or abrasive surface are big no-nos when it comes to cleaning stainless steel appliances.
For best results, only the finest quality of microfiber cleaning cloths will suffice. These do not scratch the surface of your stainless-steel appliance while also leaving a spotless finish.
Homemade Cleaning Solutions
If you’re wondering how to clean stainless steel pots and appliances using only materials that you already have at home, here are a few suggestions.
Vinegar + Olive Oil
Pour some white vinegar into a spray bottle and spritz some of it onto your stainless steel appliance. Some folks would rather spray a microfiber cloth with vinegar and then use this to wipe the surface of the appliance. Either would do just great.
However, we do recommend spraying the surface and allowing it to sit there for about half a minute before wiping it off with a microfiber cloth. The time between spraying and wiping should allow the vinegar to dissolve stubborn dirt and grime on the surface.
In wiping the vinegar off of the stainless steel, it is imperative that you observe what we already said about the direction of the grain. Always go with it, not against it.
Dab another microfiber cloth on olive oil and use this to give your stainless steel appliance a good polish. Again, follow the direction of the grain. The olive oil will give your appliance its much-needed shiny finish.
Dishwashing Soap + Baby Oil
If you’re not really into the scent of vinegar on your appliance, then maybe cleaning it with dishwashing liquid will be a much better option. Moisten your microfiber cloth. You can immerse it in water and then wring out the excess so that you will have a damp-enough cloth to work with. Add a drop or two of your dishwashing liquid onto the microfiber cloth and start cleaning your appliance. Remember to follow the grain.
Get another microfiber cleaning cloth and moisten this. Use it to wipe the surface of the appliance. This is equivalent to rinsing. When you’re done, you will need another piece of microfiber cloth to help dry the surface.
To finish it up and to give your appliance a brand-new shine, you’ll need to polish it with mineral oil. You can choose to apply olive oil if you want. However, for a different kind of soft fragrance, you might want to try baby oil.
There are other cleaning solutions that you can try on your stainless steel appliances. You can try club soda, especially if the main issue is the presence of fingerprint smudges, food residues, and/or tea or coffee deposits.
If you have WD-40 in your garage, you can also use this to clean and shine your stainless steel appliance. One added benefit of using WD-40 is that it gives your appliance an additional layer of protection from fingerprint smudges and the like. However, don’t use it on stainless steel pots, pans, and other items you will use in handling food. WD-40 contains petroleum products that should never get close to food.
If the main problem is fingerprint smudges, you can spray a glass cleaner onto your microfiber cloth before wiping it on the surface. As always, follow the grain.
Cleaning your stainless steel appliances is easy. Just remember the key principles: follow the grain and use only microfiber or any other non-abrasive cleaning material in cleaning. Your choice of the cleaning solution is generally up to you.