How to Clean Stainless Steel Appliances

How to Clean Stainless Steel Appliances - Clean Mama

If you follow me on Instagram, you probably have seen pictures of my refrigerator in my cleaning routine pictures.  Every time I post one of them, I am asked how I get my stainless steel to look so shiny.  How do I keep those pretty appliances looking new and not smudgy and full of fingerprints? If your house is anything like mine, they are covered in the latter more than they have that sleek showroom look.  I’ve tested and tried just about every brand on the market and have come to the conclusion that not all stainless steel cleaners are created equal AND not every brand works on every stainless steel appliance. Different appliance brands use different grades of stainless steel and they react differently with various cleaners. I can attest to this in my home because different products work on each stainless appliance.  This is why I set out to find something that worked on all of my appliances.

Wipe in the Direction of the Grain - Clean Mama

What’s the best way to clean stainless steel appliances?

The first thing you need is a SOFT cloth to apply your preferred cleaner to the appliance.  My preference is a microfiber cloth – most specifically, a Clean Mama HOME Polishing Cloth. Of course I’m biased, but I researched and searched for the PERFECT microfiber cloths and then had them made for my line.  These cloths WORK!

gray polishing microfiber - cmh

Through my research, testing, and trial and error, here are my top 3 favorite ways to clean stainless steel appliances – every single method uses a microfiber cloth for the application.

My Top 3 Methods for Cleaning and Polishing Stainless Steel:

Favorite Products to Clean Stainless Steel - Clean Mama copy

Choose one method – these are my favorites:

water (applied to the cloth) + microfiber polishing cloth

white vinegar (applied to the cloth) + microfiber polishing cloth

Williams-Sonoma Stainless Steel Cleaner (sprayed on stainless steel) + microfiber polishing cloth

Other methods to try:

club soda – spray on stainless and wipe in the direction of the grain

olive or baby oil – apply to a dry cloth and buff in the direction of the grain

window cleaner – some people swear by this technique – I suggest using a non-ammonia window cleaner

Application Process:

Apply water or cleaner to a microfiber cloth and clean quickly.  Quickly buff away any residue. Don’t let the cleaner dry on the stainless before buffing it in to the surface.  I recommend using a microfiber cloth that is designed to be used on stainless steel.

When applying cleaner you need to wipe your cloth in the DIRECTION OF THE GRAIN of the stainless steel.  This is because dirt can get trapped in the grain of the stainless steel.  This method not only cleans better, but your stainless steel will appear much cleaner this way.  I keep a little stack of microfiber cloths in a kitchen drawer with my bar mop cloths so I can easily wipe appliances as necessary.

Bar Mop Cloths in Drawer -Clean Mama

Do you have stainless steel appliances?  Any stainless steel appliance tips to share?

Have you visited my shop Clean Mama HOME?  Pictured below are my candles – available in two amazing scents – CLEAN HOME and FRESH LAUNDRY.

clean home candle burning - cmh




  1. I have stainless steel appliances & they’re the bane of my kitchen! But I *have* had success using Bon Ami and a damp flour sack towel when they get particularly grimy. I’ve also polished with baby oil, but we have two cats and if they brush up against the fridge it’s a big hairy mess! Yuck!

  2. I recently cleaned all of my stainless steel appliances with coconut oil! They look better than new and even resist water stains etc. longer between cleanings. Along the same lines as your olive or baby oil method 😉 I had terrible grease and grime build up on my range hood (stainless steel) and I wiped the coconut oil on and the gunk wiped right off!

  3. The water stains that drip down from the water/ice dispenser is very hard to remove. Do you have any suggestions?

    • White Vinegar – they are caused by hard water and are mineral deposits. I get them on the chrome drains in my bathroom sinks and just lay a paper towel soaked with white vinegar on them for about 15 minutes then lightly wipe them off. It may take several sessions of this, but won’t harm the surface.

    • I can not get water stains off that drip down from the dispenser. Help.

    • we tried everything then read somewhere that WD40 would get the spots off and it did a great job..We had water spots from the water dispenser and ice maker and just sprayed a little on a cloth and cleaned it then dried it off and it looks great

  4. Christine says:

    how about polishing up chrome faucets and fixtures? I would love some tips on that.

  5. I use a stainless steel cleaner called Howard’s (I buy it on Amazon). It is all natural and works so well!!

  6. Our stainless steel dishwasher is next to our sink and a while back, soap suds dripped down the front of the dishwasher while dishes were being washed. Do you have any suggestions for removing the stain lines those soap suds created? Thanks!

  7. The realtor that sold us our house gave us a tip on stainless. She said she always uses WD-40. I have been using it every since and our stainless appliances just sparkle like new.

  8. When stainless steel appliances became popular I was eagerly waiting for my fridge and stove to die so that I would have an excuse to get a new one in stainless steel. Yeah I had heard all the complaints about how they are hard to keep shiny but I figured that I was up to the task. When I finally was able to get a SS fridge, I tried all of the tips and tricks I could find (within reason) to keep it shiny. The problem was they were too work intensive and/or time consuming. So after a couple of months of ownership I was ready to sell it and go back and get a regular old white easy-to-clean fingerprint-less version.

    That’s when I found Weiman Stainless Steel Wipes. To me, those wipes are a stainless steel refrigerator’s lifesaver!

  9. Lemon pledge. It’s pretty good on stainless steel. And glass top electric stoves

  10. I use orange oil cleaner. Works great and smells amazing. Use it sparingly though. You want stainless to shine not drip oil. ????

  11. Hi there!
    I have a vent on my ss stovetop for it to “air out” but it started leaving burnt stain like copper brown. Like the hot heat just discolored it. Any tips to remove it?

    • I had that too, but was able to take it apart and scrub it with baking soda–lots of elbow grease, but it worked. Barkeeper’s Friend works good too on discolored areas.

  12. I really like how you said that, “The first thing you need is a SOFT cloth to apply your preferred cleaner to the appliance.” I had no idea that it was important to have a soft cloth for better results. I have been trying to keep my stainless steel appliances clean with very little luck. Thanks for sharing your secrets on keeping them clean because I will definitely try them out.

  13. Any suggestions on getting out scratches in SS?

  14. White vinegar + Water + a few drops of dawn

    My go to cleaner for most surfaces including windows and toilets.

  15. Great cleaning tips, made our company kitchen way cleaner

  16. How do you feel about Weiman Stainless Steel wipes? I use them, followed by a dry microfibre cloth. Works pretty well, but I find it depends on the brand of the fridge. Some take a lot more effort than others. Love your website!

    • They work pretty well but they do leave a film and don’t work on every appliance 🙂

    • Sherryl Ann Stewart says:

      I tried them and didn’t like them. Left fridge looking streaky. I tried the spray and that works but any residue that gets on my tile floor leaves the floor dangerously slippery so I have to mop every time I clean my appliances.

  17. I’ve been a professional cleaner for over 30 years and own a Boston based cleaning company. I know what I’m talking about. When any of my clients get stainless steel appliances, I recommend either Wiemans Stainless Steel Cleaner spray (not wipes), or Twinkle Stainless Steel Cleaner spray , which is more expensive, but I prefer because I feel it works better. The Wiemans can be purchased in most grocery and hardware stores, but you’ll have to go to an appliance store for the twinkle . Don’t be overly concerned about the price. A spray can should last you over a year unless you’re a fanatic and clean every day. All you have to do is spray the surface lightly and polish it with high quality paper towels. Cheap paper towels don’t absorb, so don’t use them. POW! The smudges and fingerprints are gone! EASY! For touch-ups, just take a paper towel and lightly spray it. Go over any fingerprints and they’re gone.
    OK. Say it’s been a while and your appliances are totally grimy. Use a sponge. NO abrasive sponges or scrubbies! Wet your sponge and squirt a bit of Soft Scrub (I like with bleach) on it and gently wipe-scrub the appliance, going with the grain. Rinse it. Spray it with your cleaner-polish and use your good paper towels to buff it to perfection!
    One other thing – take my word for this-don’t use any oils or oil-based products on your stainless appliances. They end up just making a mess in the long run. My clients have stainless appliances that are up to 20 years old that look brand new.

    • Thank you Heather I love your reply

      • Denise Vidor says:

        Thanks Heather… but here is my problem… I have no idea what my husband sprayed on the stainless frig but now I have streaks running down the frig and it looks like little specks that might have actually taken off some of the stainless color (if that’s possible), but it looks real spotty in places. I have since tried to clean it with my stainless steal cleaner and I can’t get the streaks or specks off… Has he ruined my frig?? or is there something I can do? please help.

        • Denise before giving up on your frig try MAAs – fine cleaner and polish for all metals. It comes in a tube. My dishwasher looked horrible no matter what I cleaned it with and I gave that a try and it was amazing the difference it made.

          Thanks so much for the microfiber tip! I just tried it on my appliances and it worked wonderfully and so much faster than towels and paper towels I have used in the past. One good swipe and done.

    • Kaylon Gates says:

      Well, darn! I was just about to try WD-40! But that is definitely oil. And, “with the grain”?!?!? I didn’t know I had signed up for this…

  18. I use WD-40 and paper towels. Works great!

  19. I love that you give several methods to clean our appliances with. That way if one isn’t working for some reason or another, you just try another one. Using non-ammonia window cleaner seems like it would be really good, I have heard multiple people saying this.

  20. i have used various products on my stainless steel kitchen sink & nothing seems to work,the label on the products i have used say that using product will leave my sink with a clean shiny look,well the products ive used DONT make sink shiny or else it will make sink a DULL ,GRAYISH look- i really need some tips on how & what to use on stainless steel sink

  21. I use window cleaner on my stainless refrigerator. Works like a charm!

  22. Patt Moore says:

    Scrubbed too hard with abrasive side of sponge on my stainless steel refrigerator and now have a large streak on door. Any suggestions?

    • There are products that will remove the scratches – you can find them at hardware stores. It’s a sanding pad that you need to use on the surface, but it’s not fool-proof.

  23. I actually use PAM cooking spray. Just a little bit goes a long way. Its like the Olive oil / baby oil idea except way easier to apply- just spray and wipe. I don’t clean it this way each time though. Just every once in a while when smudges get particularly stubborn. Works great!

  24. It looks like Williams-Sonoma is no longer carrying their Stainless Steel Cleaner. What cleaner is your second-favorite? TY!

  25. White spirits works a treat on all stainless steel and chrome.
    It is also great for removing that greasy grime on to of the fridge and cooker hoods.

  26. Hey Becky! Do you sell a stainless steel microfiber? What should I be looking for that is different from other microfiber?

    • I do! Both my utility cloth and the polishing cloth work for stainless steel – I find that the polishing works a little better 🙂

  27. Wegman wipes work great on my Samsung fridge, but not so much on my GE dishwasher? I tried vinegar and also soap and water. TBH I am afraid to use the WD40. Any ideas?

  28. Help! I’ve lost the dine on my refrigerator. It has wavy lines like there was a liquid applied that dried before removal. Also for the life of me I can’t figure out the grain of the appliance! No amount of wiping in either direction has made a difference. What can I do? What should I not do to avoid this situation in the future? Thanks.

  29. I apply Liquid Gold furniture polish… I used to help my great grandma polish her stainless steel. And that’s what we used and your appliances look awesome and you don’t have to apply much either

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