Having Stainless Steel appliances is still one of the most popular ways to instantly upgrade the look and feel of your home’s kitchen, no matter how small or how big your room might be. Stainless steel as a classic, and professional, clean and sophisticated look that never goes out of style and looks good with almost any kitchen remodeling project. We love our LG stainless steel fridge, but with two growing kids we quickly realized the downside to stainless steel: greasy smudges and fingerprints all over our appliances almost every day. So I looked on the internet and found four cheap and easy suggestions for cleaning fingerprints off stainless steel. Unsure of the best solution, I decided to test all four at the same time to see what the best cleaner is for a stainless steel appliance.
For this test I decided to test three household cleaners and one simple off the shelf cleaning product which claims it will work well on stainless steel. I had my kids run their dirty hands all over the front of our stainless steel fridge and create a huge smudge across the entire stainless steel door.
I decided to run a test of these four cleaning agents:
- dish detergent
- white vinegar
- rubbing alcohol
- Pledge multisurface wipes.
Rules for Cleaning Stainless Steel Appliances
First, a few general cleaning rules stainless steel, no matter what cleaning agent you’re using.
Use A Soft Cloth
Remember to always use a soft cloth and never use anything abrasive on stainless steel. Yes, steel is a hard metal, but it can still easily be scuffed or scratched if you’re not careful. I recommend using a soft dish towel and preferably one that’s lint-free. I never use any sort of paper towel or paper cloth on stainless steel if I can avoid it. Never use any sort of abrasive cleaning pad or magic eraser. You’ll risk ruining you beautiful stainless steel finish if you do.
Wipe With the Grain
It’s steel, but it still has a “grain” similar to the way in which wood has a grain. The grain on stainless steel is just the direction that the texture was brushed into the steel. The grain on most appliances will either be horizontal (left to right) or vertical (up and down). You can usually look your appliance and either see hundreds of tiny little lines going left to right or up and down. You want to wipe in the direction of those little lines or grain.
Just because they are stainless steel appliances doesn’t mean they are indestructible. Your stainless steel fridge or oven door is really only a thin plate of steel and it can accidentally be dented or bent inward if you push too hard or accidentally fall against it. If you have a stubborn stain you can put a little elbow grease into it, but never apply a lot of downward pressure against stainless steel.
Cleaning Stainless Steel with Household Cleaning Products
Here are four methods I tried with general results. They’re arrange from lease effective to most effective in my tests.
A simple a cheap cleaner, white vinegar is an acidic household product which can be used to clean a variety of things around the house. It’s safe to use on stainless steel but I didn’t find it to be very effective on the greasy stain my kids left on my stainless steel fridge. Vinegar is a liquid, obviously, and moisture alone makes cleaning a lot easier. That also means I had to go over the fridge with a dry towel to dry the vinegar off the fridge. It did remove the smudge, but it smelled pretty bad and it left a little bit of a film on my fridge that had to be buffed off with a dry cloth, making this the least effective stainless steel cleaner of the four I tried.
I used 70% isopropyl alcohol on a rag and ran it through my smudge. I didn’t expect much, but it actually worked a little easier and more effectively than the vinegar. It cut right through the smudge and didn’t leave much of a film. As an added bonus the rubbing alcohol evaporated quickly, which meant I didn’t actually have to go over the smudge with a dry cloth. The smell of rubbing alcohol isn’t pleasant, but it didn’t linger like the vinegar did.
Pledge Multi Surface Wipes
I’m not a big fan of Pledge as a furniture polish, and most packaged wipes are little more than moist paper towels, so I wasn’t expecting much. That being said, I was pleasantly surprised by how well the Pledge Multi Surface Wipes worked on my stainless steel. They smelled good, removed all the smudge and fingerprints from my fridge with a little rubbing and were generally effective. One towel stayed moist and seemed like it would be enough to at least clean both upper fridge doors. They’re soft like a cloth and not really a paper product from what I could tell. That being said, I thought these may have left some lint on my fridge and I did feel the need to go over the areas I had cleaned with a dry towel. I could see using these for periodic spot cleaning of fingerprints and smudges here and there.
Dish Soap and Warm Water
Surprisingly, this solution worked best on the large smudge I had on my stainless steel fridge. I ran a corner of my soft cloth under some warm water, wrung out the excess moisture and put a dot of dish soap on the towel. Using that dot I went over the dirty area of my fridge. After essentially wiping the soap across the smudge I flipped the towel and used the moisture to wipe it off. When done sparingly and with a damp towel there’s no soap film left behind. I still wiped over the area with a dry part of the towel, but after that my fridge looked as good as it did new. This was definitely a pleasant surprise and it is probably the cheapest option of the four.
Comparison Video of Stainless Steel Cleaning with Household Products
I was expecting the vinegar or alcohol to clean my stainless steel fridge the best, but it was actually the warm water and soap that comes out being the best way to clean stainless steel. The Pledge Multi Surface Wipes worked well, and they might be a tad bit more convenient, but they are also a little more expensive than a bottle of dish soap.
Do you have a cleaning tip or trick for stainless steel? Leave your comments and thoughts below and I may try them out and share my results!