Fed up with all the greasy smudges and fingerprints on your stainless steel appliances but also tired of spending $10 or more on stainless steel cleaners? Good news! You can skip the expensive store-bought commercial stainless steel cleaners and make your own highly effective cleaner for just pennies.
Stainless steel has become a popular choice in kitchen appliances, counters, sinks, and other household fixtures for its longevity and luster. And that beauty can quickly lose its appeal under greasy fingerprints, streaks, smudges, dirt, spills, and stains (which is weird given that it has “stainless” in its name). Using the wrong cleaning tools and techniques can make the mess worse, even to the point of harm or damage.
While some commercial stainless steel cleaners do work well, they’re not cheap, costing in the range of about $10 to $15 for 15 ounces. Frugal housekeepers who prefer more natural and do-it-yourself cleaning options are sure to love this super cheap, chemical-free, highly effective, easy recipe and how-to for cleaning stainless steel around the house.
Before using any product on stainless steel, it’s important that you know your finish.
The most common stainless steel finishes are matte finish, brushed finish, and mirror finish. These refer to the process used to finish the product, not a “finish” or coating that was sprayed on or added to the stainless steel surface in the fabricating process. Stainless steel finished by any of these methods is nonreactive to acids, so it won’t be damaged by a vinegar-based homemade stainless steel cleaner.
Some appliance manufacturers now offer a fingerprint-resistant finish on their appliances. Frigidaire has been selling its Smudge-Proof stainless steel appliances for several years, with the promise that their appliances are easier to clean and more resistant to fingerprints and smudges. Other manufacturers have followed their lead. Generally, manufacturers recommend cleaning their coated stainless steel with soap and water only.
Caution: The oleophobic (oil-resistant) coating added to the surface of appliances to make them fingerprint-resistant is easily damaged if you’re not aware of how to care for it. It can be stripped away by any vinegar solution, so check your owner’s manual to make sure that your appliances do not have this upgraded finish before proceeding with any vinegar-based cleaning solution.
Cleaner for Noncoated Stainless Steel Appliances
- 16-ounce spray bottle
- 1 1/3 cups white vinegar
- 5 drops Blue Dawn dishwashing detergent
- 2/3 cup water
Start with a clean spray bottle. Pour in white vinegar, Blue Dawn liquid dishwashing detergent, and water. Apply the spray top and shake to mix.
Shake to mix, then spray it liberally on the stainless steel surface you want to clean. Wipe with a soft cloth or the soft side of a nonabrasive sponge to clean, going with the subtle grain of the steel.
Once you’re satisfied that all the fingerprints and grime have been removed, go over the surface again with plain water. Stainless steel is naturally resistant to corrosion, so this step is a precaution to remove the acid in the vinegar so that there’s no chance of it interacting with the metal over time. You can either spray water from a bottle or dampen a cloth directly with water.
Rinse well then buff with a dry microfiber cloth to shine.
Label the bottle and store it at room temperature away from kids and pets.