How To Clean Stainless Steel Countertops To a Shiny, Streak-Free Finish

updated Jun 8, 2019
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(Image credit: Coco Morante)

Are you the proud owner (or renter) of a set of stainless steel countertops? They’re very common in commercial kitchens, but I haven’t seen them in many homes, save for an industrial-grade island or cart like the one in Julia’s kitchen. I don’t know why they haven’t remained in vogue — of all the quirks of my 1940s era kitchen, they’re the one feature I’ve truly fallen in love with.

Most of the time, I simply give my counters a quick once-over with a damp sponge, but sometimes you really want to go for a shiny, streak-free finish. The good news? You’ve likely got everything you need already for this cleaning task. No special stainless steel cleaners are needed, just a few commonplace pantry staples, a couple cleaning cloths, and a soft-bristled scrubbing brush. Let’s get to it.

If I’m ever fortunate enough to call myself a homeowner, I’ll seriously consider installing stainless steel countertops. At 66 years young, the countertops in my apartment have weathered the decades with grace, their copious surface scratches and tiny dents doing little to detract from their practicality, utility, and supreme ease of care.

On a daily basis I wipe down my counters with a damp sponge, lifting up the appliances, knife block, etc. to swipe up any errant coffee grinds or crumbs. For this full-on cleaning and disinfecting job, however, I started with bare counters, and moved everything to another table before getting my kitchen all sudsy and soapy. But it was worth it!

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Get all your supplies together and let’s get to it! (Image credit: Coco Morante)

How To Clean Stainless Steel Countertops to a Shiny, Streak-Free Finish

What You Need

Water Dish cloth Dish soap Baking soda Vinegar

Nylon scrubbie or soft-bristled brush Dish towel or microfiber cloth Mineral or olive oil


  1. Wipe down with water and soap: Do an initial clean by wetting a dish cloth with warm water and a little dish soap. Wipe down surface.
  2. Do a mild scrub: Sprinkle baking soda on the countertop. Pour a little bit of vinegar on a non-abrasive nylon scubbie or scrub brush, and scrub the countertop gently in the direction of the grain. Rinse thoroughly with a clean, damp dish cloth.
  3. Dry thoroughly: Dry the countertop with a dish towel, paper towel, or microfiber cloth in the direction of the grain to prevent streaking.
  4. Polish: Apply a tiny amount of mineral or olive oil to a clean cloth or paper towel. Apply in the direction of the grain. Buff away the excess with the dry side of the cloth. This will help prevent fingerprints and make your countertops shine!

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