Stainless steel appliances look great and blend with most decors, which is why they‘ve become staples in millions of kitchens. However, grease, fingerprints and water drops can leave marks on the once pristine surfaces of stainless steel refrigerators, stoves, dishwashers and microwaves.

The good news is that cleaning stainless steel is fairly easy. There are multiple methods to try when cleaning stainless steel appliances, with the most common being using stainless steel cleaners, water and vinegar.

The best way to clean stainless steel appliances

When cleaning stainless steel appliances, the main goal is to do it without damaging the surface or leaving unsightly streaks on it. Here's the best way to clean stainless steel appliances.

Supplies needed:

  • Stainless steel spray or cream cleaner
  • Baking soda
  • Vinegar (optional)
  • Mineral oil (optional)

Tools needed:

  • Two clean microfiber cloths
Close up of stainless steel grain

Step 1: Identify the direction of the grain

When cleaning your stainless steel appliance, it’s important to wipe in the direction of the grain to avoid leaving behind streaks. Find the direction of the grain by looking for little horizontal or vertical lines in the stainless steel. If the stainless steel grain is horizontal, wipe from left to right. If the grain is vertical, wipe in a downward direction.

comparison image of horizontal and vertical stainless steel grains

Close up of a hand using a towel to clean a stainless steel appliance

Step 2: Remove all deposits

Start by removing all food and water deposits from the stainless steel surfaces with a clean microfiber cloth dampened with warm water. Wipe in the direction of the grain to help remove stubborn smudges or stuck-on grime.

Close up of affresh® stainless steel cleaner

Step 3: Use a stainless steel cleaner

If you’re not sure what product is best to use for your stainless steel appliances, your owner’s manual will have more information on which products to use. Whirlpool recommends using affresh® stainless steel cleaning spray, which gently cleans residue and fingerprints to keep your appliances shining.

Hand spraying affresh® stainless steel cleaner onto refrigerator

Step 4: Spray and wipe the surface

Spray the stainless steel surface with the cleaner in an ‘S’ motion, or apply a small amount if using a cream cleaner. Wipe with a microfiber cloth in the direction of the grain.

Hand wiping a stainless steel refrigerator with a dry cloth

Step 5: Buff with a clean microfiber cloth

With a separate clean cloth, wipe the appliance in the direction of the grain to polish it, remove any remaining streaks and add shine.

Stainless steel appliance cleaners recommended by Whirlpool

How do you help remove stains and discoloration from stainless steel?

You can help remove stains or discoloration on stainless steel with a mixture of baking soda and water.

If you have particularly stubborn stains or discoloration that takes a little more effort, dilute some vinegar with water, wipe it on the stainless steel surface and wipe it away immediately with a dry paper towel or cloth. 

You can also restore the shine in your kitchen by using affresh® stainless steel brightener and a soft microfiber cloth, which will remove rust or discoloration, leaving your appliances looking like new. Just remember that this is for genuine stainless steel, and not for stainless steel imitations.

What is the best home remedy to clean stainless steel?

Baking soda is an efficient home remedy to clean stainless steel. Make a paste out of baking soda and water and rub it gently on the surface, always in the direction of the grain. If you see any white residue left from the baking soda, just wipe away with a dry, clean cloth.

Vinegar is also effective at cleaning stainless steel since it’s natural and doesn’t have any harsh chemicals. A mixture of vinegar and mineral oil is a great home solution to try—just use one part mineral oil to one part white vinegar and add essential oil drops to your preference if the smell of vinegar bothers you. Place the oil and vinegar mixture in a spray bottle, and spray on the stainless steel surface. With a clean cloth, wipe using short strokes and making sure to wipe away any residue.

Close up of stainless steel stove knobs

What should you not use to clean stainless steel?

Avoid using any harsh chemicals or multi-purpose cleaners that contain bleach or ammonia on your stainless steel appliances, and only use a clean, microfiber cloth to wipe the surface. Steel brushes and steel wool pads should not be used since they can scratch the surface of your appliance.

A fridge with a traditional stainless finish compared to a fridge with a black stainless finish

Fingerprint-resistant stainless appliances from Whirlpool

Whirlpool offers a selection of fingerprint-resistant stainless appliances that are specially designed to resist fingerprints and smudges to make cleaning your appliance’s surface a breeze. 

These appliances are available in two color options—traditional stainless and black stainless. Black is a bold alternative to the traditional stainless, with a sleek matte finish that offers protection against wear, fingerprints and smudges. Whirlpool offers numerous other appliance colors and finishes. Find out which stainless steels are magnetic. If you're not sure which to choose, our guide to choosing appliance colors can help. 


Learn more about cleaning your appliances 

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