4 DIY Stainless Steel Cleaners

posted by Andrea | 04/8/2013

stainless steel cleaners

When we renovated our kitchen this past summer, I was originally dead-set on purchasing “paneled” appliances (these appliances have panels covering the fronts so they look identical to the cabinets and very custom). However, after I realized paneled appliances would cost us at least triple the price of stainless steel appliances, I decided stainless steel wouldn’t be the end of the world 🙂

I was lucky enough to find a panel-ready top-of-the-line dishwasher from a local scratch and dent store — but after months of searching Craigslist, scratch and dent stores, and appliance warehouses/clearance centers, I wasn’t able to find a panel-ready French-door refrigerator.

So instead, we purchased an awesome GE stainless steel French-door refrigerator from the same scratch and dent store we purchased all our other appliances from (read more on that here).

We love our stainless steel refrigerator (and the matching range) and they look fabulous with our brushed nickel hardware and brushed nickel faucet.

However, they definitely show fingerprints, smudges, water spots, baby drool, and more.

And when you have a little busy-body who is completely enthralled with smashing her hands all over the bottom 3 feet of your shiny stainless steel appliances, they need to be cleaned… often!

nora looking in the oven

Before I had stainless appliances, I was ALWAYS told how difficult they were to keep clean — and how expensive the cleaning products were. So while I wanted to experiment with finding my own DIY stainless steel cleaner, I was a bit hesitant to accidentally “ruin” our brand new appliances.

However, I simply couldn’t stand the nasty smelling, spray-all-over-the-place aerosol cans of stainless steel cleaner that came with our appliances. The sprayers were always getting clogged, they dripped all over our floors, and made me so mad every time I used them.

I looked into buying some other stainless steel cleaners from the store, but I just couldn’t force myself to fork over the money — especially since I’ve been able to make almost all my other cleaning products for pennies (and they all work fabulously).

So, I decided I had to find at least one SIMPLE, inexpensive (and preferably natural) method to safely clean our stainless steel appliances.

Believe it or not, I came up with 4 — and they are all SO easy! 

diy stainless steel cleaners

1. Water

Yes, you read that right — a damp microfiber cloth will quickly and effectively clean almost any gunk and grime on your stainless steel appliances — and leave them streak-free.

2. Dish Soap

For greasy messes, dip a microfiber cloth in your dishwater (before you wash your dishes) and use the suds as a little extra power.

3. Vinegar

Yes, I have yet ANOTHER use for cleaning with vinegar! I alway keep a spray bottle filled with 1/2 vinegar, and 1/2 water under our kitchen sink. I use it for so many cleaning jobs around our house — including our stainless appliances.

Simply spray a bit of vinegar onto a microfiber cloth and “scrub” your stainless steel. I’ve found that by spraying the product on the rag instead of directly onto the appliances, I end up with less “blotchy” marks, less drips, and less streaks.

4. Baby Oil {or almost any oil}

If you want your appliances to shine like the day they were delivered, simply pour a few drops of baby oil or olive oil on a clean microfiber cloth and “buff” your appliances in a circular motion. Once the oil is completely worked in, they’ll look brand new again!

So if you have anything stainless steel in your home, stop spending loads of money on expensive, smelly, aggravating cleaners and try one of these natural methods instead. I’ve been using them for months and am extremely happy with the results!

What are your tips for cleaning stainless steel?

Filed under: LifeCleaningFrugal LivingGoing Green

Leave a comment


  1. Tali


    The oil does shine it up, but have you considered that oil is flammable, and can be a fire hazard if you have enough in your kitchen. Grease fires are nasty. Better to use the cleaners provided, they are safer overall than untested homemade ideas, though I see no harm in it if you are out of cleaner and your mother in law says she’ll be over for a visit in 20 minutes. You can always reclean it later properly.


  2. Gayle


    This made a mess of my sub zero fridge/freezer! I had to go buy one of those hated expensive, smelly cleaners to get rid of the streaks. Vinegar is NOT good for all things and oil just builds up over time…. Pleae test on a small, inconspicuous spot before using anything, especially DIY stuff.


  3. Rhonda


    As soon as my cleaners are empty I am going green. I will give these a try. I am looking forward to having less containers under my sink and being green.


  4. Julie H


    Thank you! I hate the stainless steel cleaner spray. It’s so stinky and I don’t think it works that great. I need to get some good microfiber cloths. 🙂


  5. Wendy


    I just moved into a house with stainless steel appliances, so this is helpful.

    The new place also has granite counter tops. I’ve used a vinegar/water solution before for laminate counter tops, but would that be OK for granite?


    Andrea Reply:

    nope, don’t use vinegar on Granite — it will eventually etch away at the stone!
    I have a DIY granite cleaner that works really well though 🙂 Here’s the link to that post!


    Wendy Reply:

    Thanks! This is really helpful. I had searched your site for “granite” but this didn’t pop up.

    Do we know that the alcohol is for sure safe? It doesn’t affect the sealant?


    Tabetha Reply:

    Actually, vinegar is bad for most stainless steel, too. Causes rust and etching over time. It can also void your warranty, so be sure to read your manual!


  6. Julie Freeland


    I have been admiring all of the kitchen remodel pictures as we are embarking on our own remodel this summer. But I am wondering why your top two drawers are flat panel and the bottom two are the 5 piece or inset?


    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Julie, Our top drawers are several inches narrower than the bottom drawers — and since I wanted to use cup pulls instead of door knobs, there wouldn’t be enough room for the cups inside such a narrow “crevice” so we ordered flat-front top drawers.


  7. Leah


    I use these when I clean for a client. Dampen, wipe and leave! I love it! No cleaners at all 🙂 http://www.judesmiraclecloth.com/


  8. Emily R.


    I use WD-40 which was recommended by an appliance technician. I just spray some on a soft cloth and rub in. I generally clean with hot soapy water first to get any food residue off. Let dry and then shine with the WD-40. One can will last you FOREVER!!


  9. Naomi


    Great post, i will be trying the baby oil that sounds like a good option 🙂 Micro fiber cloths are great i use one on my glass TV stand with a bit of cleaner.