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The 8 Do’s and Don’ts for Cleaning Stainless Steel

January 24, 2024

Believe it or not, there are many folks who might not be aware of how to clean stainless steel.

If you recently discovered that your once shining stainless steel is now dull and grimy, then it’s time for a change.

Stainless steel is indeed sturdy and, overall, easy to maintain, but what about cleaning stainless steel? There are some important do’s and don’ts to consider when caring for stainless steel appliances, sinks, cabinets, and cookware. Let’s find out what they are, and we’ll figure out together how to clean stainless steel!

How to Clean Stainless Steel – Do’s and Don’ts

Part I of How to Clean Stainless Steel: The Do's for Cleaning Stainless Steel.

Do’s for Cleaning Stainless Steel

DO use a non-abrasive cleaner

Bar Keepers Friend Cleanser, Bar Keepers Friend Soft Cleanser, and Bar Keepers Friend MORE Spray+Foam are perfect for regularly cleaning stainless steel sinks and cookware. Each of these products is non-abrasive and won’t harm the chrome oxide barrier when used properly. Make sure to rinse off cleanser thoroughly with water and wipe the product dry to prevent streaking. Stainless steel appliances, in particular, will benefit from our Stainless Steel Cleanser & Polish. Many manufacturers, including GE Appliances, recommend Bar Keepers Friend for cleaning their products.

DO remember that not all stainless steel is created equal

Stainless steel is comprised of a variety of different elements including carbon, chromium, nickel, manganese, silicone, phosphorous, sulfur, and nitrogen. There are approximately 150 grades of stainless steel, each of which is made of a different mixture of elements. In addition, many appliances have special coatings or finishes. These variances make it extra important to follow manufacturers’ care instructions and to test cleansers on a small spot first.

DO clean up messes quickly

Sometimes, all it takes to clean a mess is a few moments with Bar Keepers Friend and a soft cloth. Wipe up spills as they happen, and you won’t have to worry about scratches and stains.

DO practice patience

Let the pan cool down before attempting to clean it.

DO clean with grain when cleaning stainless steel

Clean, wipe, or polish stainless steel in the direction of the grain and not across it. This method drastically reduces the possibility of dulling or scratching your product. It also helps to clean out the grooves where dirt and grime get trapped.

DO wait until the water boils before salting

When cooking, wait a few minutes for the water to boil before adding salt. That little bit of extra time can save your stainless steel cookware.

DO use the right tools

Microfiber cloths and non-abrasive sponges are the best tools to clean stainless steel.

DO remove hard water stains as soon as you see them

The calcium build-up from hard water stains not only looks terrible, but also hinders cooking and can hide bacteria. Bar Keepers Friend Cleanser contains oxalic acid, which breaks down and removes calcium deposits from hard water. Always dry your stainless steel with a soft cloth or towel to keep moisture from sitting on the surface. Moisture remaining on your stainless steel can prevent the protective chrome oxide film from regenerating. 

Part II of How to Clean Stainless Steel: The Don'ts for Cleaning Stainless Steel.

Don’ts for Cleaning Stainless Steel

DON’T use chlorine bleach, chloride, oven cleaner, or other abrasive cleaners

Many different cleaners contain chlorides or chlorine. These chemicals and other abrasive cleaners will cause surface pitting. They can also strip the protective chrome oxide barrier from stainless steel. This barrier is what makes stainless steel so durable. Make sure to read labels and know all the ingredients before using any cleaning product. If you accidentally get chlorine on stainless steel, be sure to wash it off quickly.

DON’T forget to review the manufacturer’s manual

When you purchase a new appliance, sink, or cookware, you will usually receive a manual instructing you how to care for your stainless steel product. No one knows a product better than the manufacturer, so it’s important to read the manual and follow its instructions. Many manufacturers also have their manuals and care instructions online, which is perfect for a quick double-check before you do something you might later regret.

DON’T leave things sitting in a stainless steel sink

Plates, silverware, and cookware left in a stainless steel sink can leave behind streaks and scratches. While doing dishes may not be the way that you want to spend your time after dinner, it could save your sink.

DON’T clean a stainless steel pan unless it is cool to the touch

Exposing a hot pan to cold water can warp or crack it.

DON’T use steel wool or scrub brushes on stainless steel

Stainless steel is easily scratched and using abrasive cleaning products will harm and dull the finish. Steel wool and scrub brushes can also leave behind tiny particles that may later rust.

DON’T ignore chalky, white build-up

Are you noticing a chalky, white build-up on your stainless sink or cookware? That unsightly film is hard water deposits, and they can harm your stainless steel. Hard water deposits can occur from putting your cookware in the dishwasher. This build-up can also occur when water sits on the surface of cookware because it is not towel dried after washing. While you want to remove hard water deposits, do not use abrasive cleaners or cleaning products.

Stainless steel products, appliances, sinks, cookware, and more are attractive, efficient, and long-lasting when you care for them properly.

There you have it: the do’s and don’ts of cleaning stainless steel. Now that you know how to clean stainless steel, you can rest easy knowing your appliances will be in tip-top shape.

If you enjoyed this post, you might also like, How to Bring Your Favorite Stainless Steel Pan Back to Life.

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