How to clean stainless steel – without streaks, smudges, or scratches

There might be the odd stain in your home but at least your cutlery can be stainless! Here's how to show it some love

How To Clean Stainless Steel

Stainless steel can be our pride and joy – but only when it’s sparkling. Crusty pans, smudgy sinks and sticky appliances aren’t quite so appealing – but the good news is that cleaning them safely (without scratches and smudges) is easy with our fail-safe method.

Whether you’re wondering how to clean a stainless-steel sink or how to clean stainless-steel pans, there’s one key to quick success: the more elbow grease the better. Get your partner or a friend on board (they can scrub while you rinse) and the job will be done in half the time.

Get to know the grain

Wood isn’t the only material that has a grain; stainless steel has one too, and it’s important when it comes to the cleaning of stainless steel.

  • The first thing you need to do when figuring out how to clean stainless steel is to determine the direction of the grain. Look closely at the surface of your appliance, sink or pans to work out whether the faint lines are running up-and-down or side-to-side.
  • Although the direction will be the same in one sheet of steel, bear in mind that the grain on other pieces that have been attached, like knobs, taps and handles, might have a different direction.
  • When washing stainless steel, you’ll get a better result if you wipe in the direction of the grain. This helps avoid any grime or product residue sinking deeper below the surface during the cleaning of stainless steel.

Choose your cleaning supplies

There are various options for supplies when it comes to the cleaning of stainless steel, whether you’re cleaning a stainless-steel sink or cleaning stainless-steel pans.

  • Speciality cleaner. One of the best options is to go with a product formulated specially for stainless steel cleaning. Just remember to test a small patch first, and follow the instructions on the label.
  • Dish detergent/washing-up liquid. Alternatively, you can mix one teaspoon of dish soap with one quart of hot water from the tap. Be sure to rinse off with clean hot water and dry straight away.
  • Vinegar and oil. Another option is to use vinegar in a spray bottle. After spraying, wipe away with a paper towel. Then you can buff with a small amount of oil.
  • Mineral oil. You can use mineral oil to remove fingerprints after cleaning by buffing a light coating of it. Avoid food-based oils, like vegetable or olive oil.
  • Strong paper towels. These are non-abrasive and will absorb excess oil. Pick paper towels that are strong when wet, like Plenty kitchen paper, so you don’t leave any bits behind.



Whether you’re soaking up excess grease from stainless steel or administering the final polish, extra-absorbent Plenty is ideal for the job. It’s strong, even when wet, so it’s great for scrubbing and polishing.


How to clean stainless steel: the process

Follow these simple steps when washing stainless steel.

  1. Start off by placing a small amount of your cleaning fluid on your cloth. Wipe this along your stainless steel, in the direction of the grain. For stubborn stains, rub carefully, one small section at a time.
  2. If using a speciality cleaner or vinegar, wipe it away with another clean, damp paper towel.
  3. Rinse by washing the stainless steel with clean hot water.
  4. Use a cloth to dry the area immediately.
  5. Finish by polishing with a strong paper towel. Wipe in the direction of the grain, backwards and forwards (whether that’s vertically or horizontally). You can either use the paper towel dry, or add a drop of mineral oil.

When cleaning a stainless-steel sink or cleaning stainless-steel pans you can remove grease, fingerprints and watermarks by carefully following these steps. Then sit back and admire your sparkling work!

Did you find this article helpful?Thanks for your feedback!