Whenever I look at a kitchen full of stainless steel appliances I can’t help but think to myself, “you are sooo good looking.” (Any other Seinfeld fans around here? Oh, just me?) There’s something about stainless steel that instantly makes a kitchen look upscale, modern and attractive—even if it is a bugger to clean. Old me would go months without cleaning her stainless steel because streaks and water marks are just as annoying, if not more so, than fingerprints. But new me is all about this DIY stainless steel cleaner. It’s made with 2 ingredients (3 if you’re feeling ambitious) and it leaves your appliances as sparkly as the day you bought them.
The Best DIY Stainless Steel Cleaner
Like most cleaning products you buy at the store, stainless steel cleaner is filled with toxic ingredients that linger in the air and on your appliances. And the stuff isn’t exactly cheap, either. Because store-bought cleaner is a lose-lose, I prefer to make my own 2-ingredient stainless steel cleaner whenever I can.
Stainless steel is a pretty finicky material that can look dirty at the drop of a hat. When it comes to cleaning it, the secret is choosing ingredients that dry quickly so you’re not left with even more streaks and smudges after all is said and done.
I opt for a mixture of rubbing alcohol and water to clean my appliances, tackle germs and get rid of lingering fingerprints. Rubbing alcohol is antibacterial so it gets rid of nasties that may be hanging out on handles and surfaces. It also dries quickly without leaving so much as a streak in it’s wake. And adding a bit of water helps tone down the alcohol so it won’t damage your stainless steel or leave an overpowering smell as it dries.
Simply combine them in a glass spray bottle, along with 2-3 drops lemon essential oil if you’d prefer a fresh scent, and spritz lightly on your appliances. Then wipe off with a clean microfiber cloth to get rid of dust and grime. Stash the mixture under your kitchen sink for 2 weeks and use it to clean your appliances regularly.
Just be forewarned, cleaning your stainless steel isn’t always enough to give it that fresh-from-the-factory sheen that makes it so pretty. For that, I use a bit of olive oil and a clean dish rag to add a bit of shine and remove any stubborn smudges. Simply pour a teaspoon of olive oil onto a soft cloth and massage it into the stainless steel, focusing on handles and high-traffic areas. Be sure to apply the oil with the grain while buffing to keep streaks to a minimum. Let it dry, then apply another coat if needed.
Not only will the oil make your appliances look shiny and new, it will help prevent smudges and prints from appearing in the first place so your appliances stay cleaner, longer.
Stainless Steel Cleaner
- 1/2 cup rubbing alcohol
- 1/2 cup water
- 2-3 drops lemon essential oil optional
- Olive oil optional
- Glass spray bottle
- Microfiber cloth
- Combine the alcohol, water and essential oil in a glass spray bottle and shake well to combine.
- Spray your cleaning solution directly onto your stainless steel appliances.
- If you look closely you’ll see that your stainless steel appliances have a distinct grain direction - either vertically or horizontally. Take a microfiber cloth and wipe your appliances, being sure to go in the direction of the grain.
- If you still have some lingering marks, wait until your appliance is good and dry, then put a little olive oil onto a dry cloth and rub it in (again, with the grain). This will help take care of those stubborn finger prints and grease marks and leave your appliances looking nice and shiny.
Stephanie Jane says
We’re turning to homemade solutions like this as we use up the shop bought stuff. I’ve been amazed at how well most work & feel I’ve been tricked by glitzy packaging and advertising for too long!
Can’t wait to try this at home on our 3 stainless steel kitchen appliances.
Since the end-of-semester cleaning is only a month and a half away, we’ll also use this on our stainless steel photography darkroom sinks, as well as, the digital darkroom keyboards.
Thanks for posting!
Equal parts vinegar and alcohol is my go-to. We call it “magic stuff”. It works on tvs, glass, stainless, granite, porcelain, etc.. Add essential oils if the vinegar smell turns you off. Even if it does, the vinegar smell is gone within 5min and acts as a deodorizer.
I found that Vinegar water combo doesn’t always work. I usually use spray oil (canola or olive oil) wipe in and buff with a soft towel and it works great! pouring oil onto a towel doesn’t work well at all! a light mist of it directly on the appliance works best. I might try this recipe…. just to see if it works better. If it doesn’t at least it won’t be a waste since it is a good disinfectant and can be used for other tasks.
This is what my doctor’s office uses to clean all of their surfaces too. Disinfects and evaporates like you said. I’ve been using this ever since they told me about it and I can’t live without it now. Thanks for letting everyone in on it and people please start now using this. We haven’t had any illness here since I ‘ve been cleaning with it. Happy Saint Patricks Day everyone.
Jennifer Hankins says
Love these suggestions! Please tell me more about spritzing to get rid of fruit flies! We seem to battle fruit flies every year late summer and I have tried a multitude of things that are sometimes successful but have never heard of this one. Please do tell! and Thank you for all the other great advise offered! I am going to buy rubbing alcohol by the gallon if I can!
Pat Walker says
Thanks for all the good tips. I have use this for over 20 years for my windows.
2 cups water
1 cup alcohol
1 Tbs. ammonia
It really works.
This DID NOT work for me.
I tried cleaning the exterior of my SS freestanding rotisserie/oven.
Alcohol, vinegar, commercial cleaners, hot water, Nothing worked.
I have used 3 soft scrubbers (for cleaning teflon pans). The grease still smears and is sticky to the touch.
I am now considering napalm.
Try WD40 (not on cooking surfaces). My son-in-law who is a metal worker says they use it to clean and shine stainless steel. Not a great smell but it dissipates shortly.