7 Things You Should Never Do When Cleaning Stainless Steel Appliances

published Oct 3, 2021
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
Post Image

Nothing detracts from a clean kitchen quite like fingerprint-ridden, dull appliances. By the same token, nothing screams “clean kitchen” like stainless steel that gleams from across the room. So, for me, cleaning my stainless steel appliances on a regular basis is a top priority. It’s not hard or complicated (if you can use a rag, you can clean stainless steel), but there are a few things you should never do. What are they? Let’s take a look!

1. Don’t use bleach.

Stainless steel is “stainless” because of a protective layer that forms when the chromium in the steel interacts with the oxygen in the air. If this layer is compromised, the unfortunate news is that the metal beneath it can rust. Bleach is a harsh chemical that compromises the layer of chromium oxide and can cause rust or pitting to form on your appliances. In addition to not using your own bleach solutions, be sure to read cleaning product labels carefully to ensure that they don’t contain bleach before using them on your stainless steel appliances. 

2. Don’t use steel wool or other abrasive tools.

Steel wool and other abrasive tools can scratch the surface of your stainless steel appliances. Over time, these scratches can dull the overall appearance, and there’s nothing you can do to remove them. If you need to address rust marks, a non-abrasive cleaner like Bar Keepers Friend is safe and effective. 

Credit: Lauren Kolyn

3. Don’t use Windex.

Windex and other ammonia-containing cleaning products should also be avoided. In the same way that bleach can cause problems, ammonia can also cause damage, allowing humidity to touch and affect the surface and create the potential for rust. Again, check any cleaners you use on your stainless steel appliances for ammonia as an ingredient. Better yet, just follow Kitchn’s directions for cleaning stainless steel.

4. Don’t use water.

Water can leave water marks and streaks on your stainless steel appliances — especially if you have hard water. If you swipe a damp rag on your appliances to give them a quick clean, expect to be met with visible streaks once the water dries.

5. Don’t wipe against the grain.

Whatever products and tools you use to clean your stainless steel, always wipe with the grain. This way, you’re sure to address the dirt and grime that’s lodged in those tiny grooves. You’ll also avoid the small scratches that can occur when you rub your rags any which way on your appliances. 

6. Don’t let dirt sit.

Dirt that sits on your appliances becomes stubborn dirt, which might tempt you into using harsher cleaning methods. To avoid this issue, clean the surfaces of your appliances regularly with a safe all-purpose cleaner and make deeper cleaning part of your weekly routine.

Credit: Joe Lingeman

7. Don’t put oily rags in the dryer.

Kitchn’s go-to method for cleaning stainless steel calls for oil and a microfiber cloth. If you use that method, beware of the fire hazard your dirty rag can cause. Make sure the rag is extra clean before tossing it in the dryer, or opt for paper towels to toss in the trash when you’re done cleaning. 

What other tips do you have when cleaning stainless steel? Tell us in the comments below.