Whatever you do, be sure to avoid harsh chemicals and abrasive cloths.
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Stainless steel appliances are popular because of the sleek, modern look and high-end feel, they bring to the kitchen. However, they generally show spills and fingerprints more easily than some of their glossier counterparts—which means keeping up with a cleaning and polishing routine is a must. That's why we spoke with two experts to find out the best ways to clean your stainless steel gadgets. Ahead, what they had to share.

white kitchen with stainless steel appliances
Credit: Getty / bloodstone

Before You Begin

Before you use any type of cleaning product on your appliances, Rochelle Wilkinson of Dirt Detectives Cleaning Services in Phoenix, Maryland, says to consult the specific item's manual for a safe ingredient list. "Know your products before you apply something to your new $2,000 fridge," she says. "You don't want to ruin your appliance, nor do you want to apply anything to a gas stove or oven that is flammable." Though it may not cause a fire when applied, residue left near the open flame can lead to trouble once you turn up the heat.

Chemicals to Avoid

Even if your owner's manual doesn't mention them, Leanne Stapf—the Chief Operating Officer at The Cleaning Authority—says you should never use alcohol or glass cleaners on your appliances; they will leave streaks and can discolor the surface layer. Instead, she suggests using products like baking soda that can revive dull stainless steel. "[Apply] a small amount of baking soda onto a damp soft cloth and buff it out," she says, adding that you should make sure to rinse the surface well to avoid leaving any streaks behind. Wilkinson agrees, adding oil-based formulas and WD-40 to that banned list. "Any oil left on the surface will instantly grab any dust particles floating through the air," she says, noting that it will immediately make your surface look dull and dirty again. "Not to mention, as soon as you touch an appliance with a thick oil applied, you leave behind fingerprints—and now your hands are oily."

Homemade Mixes

If you want to take a do-it-yourself route, try Wilkinson's go-to method, which involves dish soap, two microfiber rags, and a round microfiber wax applicator. "Soak the first rag with hot water and add a drop of dish liquid. Dawn Platinum ($4.89, target.com) is the best choice, as it cuts through grease," she says. "Starting at the top of the appliance, go left to right in circles, removing any built-up food, fingerprints, or creams that may have been applied prior." When you're done, she suggests taking the second rag and adding warm water to rinse the solution away. "Then, while the surface is still damp, take the round microfiber wax applicator sponge and—starting at the top—wipe left to right to dry the appliance," she concludes. The secret, she says, is that the sponge absorbs the moisture and then the microfiber cloth buffs the surface, giving your appliance a nice polish.

Steam Heat

If these products and methods aren't cutting it, Stapf suggests using steam—especially on appliances that have built-up or hardened food particles, like a microwave. "If you put a bowl with lemon juice in the microwave for five minutes, the steam will loosen any food remnants and eliminate odors," she says.

Comments (2)

Martha Stewart Member
December 24, 2020
How do you handle the tougher residues on ceramic oven tops? I've had a hard time cleaning those at a new place I moved into..
Martha Stewart Member
December 23, 2020
These are great tips Lauren, stainless steel appliances are always a tricky clean but now I see a way!