Cleaning Stainless Steel FAQs

Cleaning a stainless steel sink.

Stainless steel is an alloy of iron that contains more than 10 percent chromium. Stainless steel resists stains but occasionally dulls or will show oily finger prints. This steel is noted for its hardness and is used for utensils, tableware, sinks, counter tops, and small appliances. In the process of making it, a little of the chromium in the alloy is used to form the hard oxide coating on the surface. If this is taken off, through corrosion or wear, the steel rusts like regular steel.

  • Olive Oil: Rub stainless steel sinks with olive oil to remove streaks.
  • Vinegar: To clean and polish stainless steel, simply moisten a cloth with undiluted white or cider vinegar and wipe clean. Can also be used to remove heat stains on stainless steel cutlery.
  • Club Soda: Remove streaks or heat stains from stainless steel by rubbing with club soda.


Wash by hand or in the dishwasher. Rinse off acid or salty foods if the stainless flatware is not to be washed soon. Do not spill dry dishwasher detergent on flatware which is wet, as dark spots may result. Do not load stainless steel flatware in same basket section of dishwasher with silverware, as silver may be damaged.


Do not let pans boil dry, or overheat on burner, which causes discoloration. Stainless steel pans on burners do not distribute heat evenly, and foods tend to stick in "hot spots," so careful stirring of foods is important. Pans with a copper bottom, or a "sandwich" layer of aluminum or copper hidden in the bottom overcome this problem.

Wash by hand or in dishwasher. If washed by hand, rinse well, and polish dry at once with soft dish towel to avoid spots and streaks. Dishwasher washing and drying do not leave these spots and streaks; occasionally a bluish cast develops which can be removed with silver polish.

Some foods (acidic, salt, milk, and milk products) should be washed, or rinsed thoroughly off the surface of stainless steel promptly or else they tend to corrode it. Do not use harsh abrasives or steel wool on stainless steel. Cooked-on food or grease can be removed from stainless steel utensils by using a fine abrasive cleaning powder or a paste of baking soda and water, or a paste of ammonia and rotten stone. Commercial stainless steel cleaner is available.


Perforated rubber or plastic mats in the sink will cut down on scratching and marking by pans and tableware. Wash with a solution of hand dish washing liquid detergent and water; or a solution of baking soda and water. Rinse and polish dry with paper towel or soft cloth. Never use scouring powders or steel wool as they will scratch stainless steel. You can brighten the sink by polishing with a cloth dipped in vinegar, or in ammonia, or dampen sink and a sponge; sprinkle a little baking soda on sponge and rub sink gently, rinse. Then, polish dry with paper towel.

These tips will keep your stainless steel shining! There's nothing as satisfying as a sparkling sink.