Stainless steel appliances are extremely appealing, at least when they are new; though they rarely ever live up to their name. As most of you know by now, it is hard to clean an appliance that is truly stainless. They require constant cleaning and maintenance to keep in their shine the same way in which they came.
The short answer to the question posed by the subject of this article is the following:
- Asses the grain direction. This is important, especially if you need to vigorously scrub the surface.
- If you don’t have a special detergent for stainless steel, you can use plain water, vinegar or other dish washing cleaning solution. Apply it with a microfiber or a paper towel.
- Scrub the stains well, rinse one more time and wait for the water to dry.
- Use a few drops of olive oil to polish the material.
I’ve made a picture collage with the 4 steps described above:
Here’s the longer detailed version:
Step one: Understanding the grain
Steel, just like wood, has a grain. The first step when looking to clean stainless steel appliances is to understand the direction of the grain. The grain refers to tiny striations that can normally be found on the surface of the appliance. They are not the simplest to see, but anyone keen enough can find them. The whole surface of the stainless steel appliance will normally have them oriented in the same direction. Finding the direction of the grain is usually presumed as being the first step of the process because of the fact that it applies to all cleaning agents one can use on the steel.
After finding the direction, it is recommended that one cleans their appliance in the same direction, along and not across the grain. While nothing serious happens when one cleans against the grain, doing so means grime and cleaning residue gets into the tiny grain crevices and reduces the shine of the appliance. Also, there’s a risk you may leave tiny yet visible scratches all over the surface.
Step two: Getting/Using the supplies
The next step involves gathering the cleaning supplies. The most convenient cleaning material would be a non-abrasive cleaning rag. You might also use paper towels, which work just as well but might leave some evidence behind. Mineral or baby oil is also required. There are many cleaning supply combinations which depend on the stain and the preference of every individual. Cleaning supplies do not have to be expensive or hard to find.
The simplest you can start with is the water and cloth routine. According to some people, using a plain cloth and warm water is the safest option for cleaning stainless steel. The surface should be dried completely to avoid unpleasant water spots. Microfiber cloths are the best since they do not scratch the surface of the appliance and absorb as much water as possible.
For tougher stains, one can include a little detergent with the warm water. Use a drop of mild detergent on warm water to make the cleaning solution. Tough stains might sometimes require a few drops of soap onto the towel to apply directly onto the stain. After cleaning, make sure to rinse the surface thoroughly.
Another useful cleaning option to use is vinegar. When using vinegar, spray the stainless steel surface liberally. After the initial spraying, use either a paper towel or a soft cloth and wipe off the vinegar in the direction of the grain. This will work wonders as it removes the initial stain and debris off the appliance.
If you have had scratching or staining on your stainless steel appliances, you might consider the use of stainless steel cleaners. I was talking about the Brilliant cleaner a while ago. These cleaners should be used when there’s a great need of leaving the surface sparkling, which is tough to achieve with homemade cleaning solutions. Stainless steel cleaners remove stains while at the same time removing spots, thus leaving the surfaces polished up nicely.
Step three: Polishing
Polishing is an important part of the cleaning process for stainless steel appliances. Many people prefer the use of oils after the initial cleaning. Whether you’ve used vinegar, warm water or water and detergent mixture, apply a small amount of baby or mineral oil onto a soft cloth and polish the surface. Just like in step 2, make sure to follow the direction of the grain. During cleaning and polishing, you should remember that appliances often have attachments on them like handles and knobs. These might sometimes have the grain moving in a different direction, so you should be careful. Do not be overzealous with the oil in a bid to get a much shinier finish. It is the cleaning process that matters most, and the oil is simply to restore the appeal. Do not overuse the oil as it will be sticky, unpleasant to handle and might result in accidents due to slipping.
What to remember
As we all know, prevention is better than treatment, and this cannot be over-emphasized for stainless steel appliances. To keep them in top shape and prevent the accumulation of stubborn stains:
- Do not let soap based cleansers or detergents dry on the stainless steel surface. Rinse thoroughly and immediately such that the chlorides that are commonly found in soapy detergents rinse off with the water. The chlorides affect the natural luster of the stainless steel.
- While many believe that stainless steel stands up well to abrasive cleaners, do not use steel wood pads when cleaning appliances. First, they are likely to leave unpleasant marks on some of your appliances. Secondly, it is likely that they will leave behind some iron particles, which can cause corrosion when they rust. The conventional scouring pad should be enough even for the most stubborn stains.
- In the same vein, do not store stainless steel together with iron cookware. Iron mixes with moisture and attracts rust, which then results in staining and corrosion.
- Another material you should avoid in storage is rubber. Avoid rubber mats and wet sponges when storing them for a long period. These materials trap water and will subsequently cause staining and discoloration.
- You might find it necessary to use different types of cleaners for different stains. For instance, stains made by pets might require a different approach from normal kitchen stains.
- When looking for that extra sparkle, consider the use of flour or baking powder in the scrubbing process.
- Avoid sharp cutlery on the appliances. These leave marks which are not only unpleasant but also trap grime, dust and stains.
Many home appliances are made of stainless steel. You will normally find that they require a lot of effort in cleaning and maintenance to keep them as shiny as new. Luckily, you can make do with the simplest cleaning materials. Removing those ugly marks and fingerprints should not be as difficult as it seems. If you have any questions for me or the audience, or if you would like to add anything to this guide, please use the comment form located below.