Stainless steel is a great choice for kitchens: It’s tough, resists rust, and has a sleek look that works with a range of styles. But if you have a stainless-steel dishwasher or fridge, fingerprints and streaks can become the bane of your existence. We tapped three industry experts—Dirk Sappok, director of product development at Miele; cleaning guru Leslie Reichert; and Jeff Sweet, product marketing manager at Sub-Zero and Wolf—for the run-down on how to keep these appliances gleaming.
Choose the right cleaner
The biggest mistake people make when cleaning stainless steel is spraying it down with an all-purpose cleaner. “Some cleaners may leave streaks or a haze, while more aggressive or abrasive cleaners can damage the surface,” says Sappok. Instead, opt for a product made especially for the material.
Don’t overdo it
First, check with the manufacturer’s instructions for your appliance; some feature a print-proof finish that should only be wiped with a damp cloth. If you’re good to go, apply the cleaner with a microfiber cloth, following the direction of the grain. Beware of getting overzealous—overusing polish can cause streaks, according to Sweet. If that does occur, remove them with rubbing alcohol and start over with a lighter touch.
If you’d prefer to go the natural route, try this recipe from Reichert, the author of The Joy of Green Cleaning. Mix 1 cup baking soda, ¼ cup lemon juice, 3 tablespoons borax, and enough plain club soda to make a paste. Apply the mixture with a soft cloth, rinse with more club soda, and polish with a new clean cloth.
Double up for tough messes
To tackle caked-on residue on stovetops, Sappock suggests applying a combination of gentle detergent and warm water with a soft cloth, followed by a stainless-steel cleaner. Or try Reichert’s recommendation: a mixture of baking soda and olive oil, which acts like a soft scrub.