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

Man in a blue shirt holds a sheet of Plenty kitchen paper under a stainless still kitchen sink tap

When you’re cooking up a storm for your loved ones, stainless steel is always going to get encrusted with something. Like rubbery, stubborn scrambled eggs. Or burnt strands of spaghetti that leave a mark after they’re chiselled off. Or whatever that unholy goop is that’s fused to your sink after your partner washed up for you. 

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. So, if your family loves your food, get them to love cleaning up with you! The more, the merrier, right?! 

Get to know the grain

Fun fact: 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 some detective work and 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 slimy grime or sticky residue sinking deeper below the surface during the cleaning of stainless steel.

Choose your cleaning supplies

There are some different supplies to consider 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. No one wants a weird mark on the door of their fridge. Unless it’s a drawing your kid made at school that you’ve stuck on there. 
  • 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 try to dry it 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. Then you can buff it with a small amount of oil to make it shiny. 
  • Mineral oil.
  • You can use mineral oil to remove grubby fingerprints (left by curious kids, or hungry adults) after cleaning by buffing a light coating of it. But make sure to avoid food-based oils, like vegetable or olive oil. 
  • Paper towels. You can use paper towels that are strong when wet, like Plenty kitchen paper. 


Whether you’re soaking up greasy marks from stainless steel or giving it its final polishing, 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

Alright, now it’s time to put it all together! Here are the simple steps to follow when washing stainless steel. 

  1. Start off by placing a bit 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. And get your household involved: whoever gets their section the shiniest gets to choose the movie for the night! 

When cleaning a stainless-steel sink or cleaning stainless-steel pans you can remove grease, fingerprints and watermarks by using this easy method. And remember, it’s not the end of the world if someone slops creamy cheese sauce all over a pan. That’s life, and you wouldn’t want it any other way. 

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