How to clean stainless steel appliances the right way

Banish pesky fingerprints and streaks for good in 5 easy steps.

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All you need for a perfect streak-free shine is dish soap. (Photo, Janis Nicolay.)
All you need for perfect streak-free stainless steel is dish soap. (Photo, Janis Nicolay.)

As a stainless steel fridge owner, I’ve tried and tested many stainless steel cleaners — buffers, creams and sprays — to banish bothersome streaks and handprint marks. Nothing worked as promised — most store-bought solutions seem to make it worse or leave an unsightly residue. Turns out, the simplest solution was right under my nose: dish soap and water.

What you’ll need: One wet and one dry J-cloth or rag, dish soap, water.

1. Dampen your cloth. Wring it out so there is little to no excess water.

2. Add a drop of dish soap to your cloth. You don’t want to use too much! The cloth shouldn’t be dripping with suds.

3. Wipe the appliance in the direction of the grain. I usually move my cloth horizontally along the appliance in one long streak, before moving to the next section underneath, careful to not miss any spots.


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4. Rinse and wipe again. Once all the suds are rinsed from your cloth, wring it out and wipe the soap off the appliance in the same direction you cleaned it. Tip: Make sure you wring out all excess water before cleaning off the soap. You don’t want your cloth sopping wet for this step as it will only leave water droplets on your appliance.

5. Use your dry cloth to buff the appliance’s surface. Again, make sure you are moving the cloth in the direction of the grain. This step really makes the stainless steel shine.

Some handy tips:

Only use soft materials to clean your stainless steel. Wire wool or tools with bristles will scratch your appliance’s surface.

Make sure your cloths are clean. This will ensure your appliances look shiny and new.

Clean your appliance every few weeks. Avoid letting the streaks and fingerprints build-up — your appliance will just become more difficult to clean!

Originally published in 2015; updated in 2017.

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