How to clean stainless steel appliances and machine parts

How to clean Stainless steel Appliances and Machine Parts?

Stainless steel is an alloy of iron, carbon, and chromium. The chromium in stainless steel forms a thin layer of oxide on the surface of the metal, which is known as the passive layer. This passive layer protects the steel from corrosion. However, if the passive layer is damaged, corrosion can occur.

The higher the chromium content, the greater the corrosion resistance. Stainless steel rusting occurs when the passive layer is damaged and there is not enough chromium for it to reform. In order to prevent stainless steel from rusting, it is important to regularly clean and maintain the metal. Surface damage, such as scratches or dents, can also contribute to the degradation of stainless steel over time.

Want to read more about how stainless steel corrosion occurs, read our article on Possible causes for Stainless steel corrosion.

Chromium chloride layer on surface is self repairing

The chromium oxide layer on the surface of stainless steel is self-repairing, meaning that any damage to the passive layer will be repaired by oxidation. In other words, when exposed to oxygen and moisture, chromium in the stainless steel reacts with oxygen to form an invisible protective film. This prevents further corrosion from occurring as long as there is enough chromium in the alloy.

Therefore, it is important to use cleaning and maintenance methods that do not damage the passive layer. Never use corrosive products such as chloride cleaners, abrasive cleaners, or bleach on stainless steel surfaces.

How to properly handle stainless steel?

When working with stainless steel, it is important to take measures to prevent contact with corrosive substances. This will help to extend the service life of the stainless steel;

  • Always wear clean gloves and use only stainless steel tools and components
  • Avoid contact with carbon steels or iron
  • Do not weld, cut, drill, or grind carbon steel near stainless steel
  • Avoid contact with concrete detergents and chloride solutions
  • Do not use steel wool or other abrasive scrubbing pads

10 Tips for Cleaning Stainless Steel Like a Pro

Stainless steel is most corrosion resistant and when its passivation is destroyed. This results in corrosion of stainless steel. There are many ways to clean rusted surfaces depending upon types of rust and location. Following are recommended tips that you follow must while cleaning Stainless steel;

Soft Cloth is enough for general cleaning:  

A soft cloth dampened with warm water will often be sufficient to clean your stainless steel surface. Wipe in the grain direction to avoid leaving streaks on the surface, and towel-dry when done for a spotless finish.

Glass Cleaner: 

Fingerprints are inevitable on stainless steel surfaces, so use glass cleaner to get rid of them. Be sure to follow the directions on the cleaner for the best results.

Commercial Cleaner: 

If you need to remove more stubborn stains from stainless steel, use a commercial cleaner. Be sure to read and follow all of the instructions carefully before using, and spot-test first in an inconspicuous area if possible.

Steel Wool & Brushes: 

Avoid using steel wool or brushes, as these can damage and scratch the surface of stainless steel.

Chlorine & Bleach: 

Chlorine and bleach can stain and damage stainless steel surfaces, so it’s best to stay away from them.

Dirty Water & Residue:

Don’t leave residues of cleaning solutions or dirty water on the surface of stainless steel. Certain kinds of tap water can be corrosive, and it’s best to wipe up any excess moisture as soon as possible.

Following these simple tips will help you keep your stainless steel surfaces looking like new for years to come! With proper care and maintenance, you’ll be able to enjoy the beauty and durability of stainless steel for many years. 

Don’t forget to always read the instructions before using any cleaning solutions, and spot test if necessary.

Selecting right Stainless Steel Cleaner is Important

Using the wrong cleaning products on stainless steel surfaces can cause irreparable damage and lead to costly repairs. To keep stainless steel looking shiny and new, it is important to use the right product for the job. 

The best way to clean stainless steel is to use a mild detergent such as dish soap diluted in warm water, then use a soft cloth to wipe the surface. Be sure to rinse off all of the soap residue with clean water and dry the surface before applying any polish or wax. 

Never use following products on stainless steel

Chloride Cleaners:  

Chloride cleaners contain corrosive elements that can damage the protective layer on stainless steel surfaces.

Abrasive Cleaners: 

Abrasive cleaners, such as those containing scouring pads, may scratch the surface of stainless steel and create an ideal environment for corrosion.

All-Purpose Cleaners: 

All-purpose cleaners are not designed specifically for stainless steel surfaces, and can leave behind a residue that could damage the finish. 

Chlorine Bleach: 

Chlorine bleach is very corrosive and will cause permanent damage to stainless steel. 

If you want to keep your stainless steel looking its best, use gentle cleaning products and avoid abrasives or harsh chemicals at all costs.

Common DIY Cleaners to clean Stainless Steel Surfaces

Stainless Steel Cleaning Method: Dish Soap + Water

Dish soap is one of the common items in households that can assist you in cleaning stainless steel surfaces. This method is easy to use and does a decent job of removing the dirt, grease and grime. However, it doesn’t eliminate all the oils from the surface. After the water and soap solution dries, streaks may be visible on the stainless steel surface. This can detract from its overall look.

How to use Dish Soap to clean surfaces?

  1. Fill a bowl with about 1/3 of water and add some drops of dish soap
  2. Take a cleaning rag and dip it into the soapy water, mix around and lift up
  3. Now wipe off the stainless steel surface with the dampened cloth to remove dirt, grease, grime
  4. After wiping off, use a microfiber cloth to dry

Time needed: 10 minutes.


  • Easy to use
  • Removes dirt, grease, grime from stainless steel surface


  • Doesn’t completely remove oils from the surface
  • Streaks may still be visible after the solution dries
  • Takes more time than other cleaning methods such as using vinegar solution with a spray bottle.

Another Household tool to clean surface: Vinegar + Olive Oil

Vinegar and olive oil are commonly used in households. This method helps you to get rid of any dirt, grime on the stainless steel surfaces and gives it a fresh, shiny polish. Using this method is much easier than using dish soap solution and time saving as well.

How to use Vinegar + Olive Oil?

  1. Apply white vinegar directly to a microfiber cloth, or spray directly onto your surface.
  2. Let it sit for just a moment, and then wipe clean in the direction of the grain.
  3. Apply the vinegar as many times as necessary to remove any grime.
  4. Then dab a clean towel into some olive oil and polish the freshly-cleaned surface in the direction of the grain.
  5. If any extra olive oil residue remains, wipe away with a clean cloth.

Time Needed: 5 minutes


  • Easy to use
  • Removes dirt, grease, grime from stainless steel surface
  • Gives a fresh, shiny polish


  • Can be more expensive than other cleaning solutions such as dish soap.

I find this method of vinegar and olive oil to be the quickest and easiest way to clean stainless steel surfaces among all home cleaning Stainless steel tricks. I was amazed at how quickly it worked and how shiny my surfaces were after I was done. Plus, it smells great and is much more environmentally friendly than harsh chemical cleaners. Not to mention, it’s cheap and doesn’t require any special tools or materials! Overall, this is a simple but effective way of keeping stainless steel surfaces clean and shiny.

Use of Flour to clean steel surface:

Flour is a common kitchen ingredient that can be used to clean stainless steel surfaces. All you need to do is spread the flour over the surface and use a damp cloth in a circular motion to buff it up until it starts to shine. This will help remove any dirt, grease or grime from the surface and leave it looking fresh and clean. It may take a little bit of elbow grease to get it to the desired shine, but it is an effective and simple way to clean stainless steel surfaces.

How to use Flour to remove rust?

  1. Clean the surface first to remove any dirt, grease or grime that may be caked on.
  2. Once it has dried, cover it in flour.
  3. Take a soft cloth and, in a circular motion, buff the sink until it starts to shine like new.

Time Needed: 10 minutes


  • Easy to use
  • Removes dirt, grease, grime from stainless steel surface
  • Inexpensive


  • Can be messy
  • May require some elbow grease for desired shine.

Overall, using flour to clean stainless steel surfaces is a simple and effective way to keep them looking great. It may take a bit of effort, but the results will be worth it in the end!

Are Home Remedies as good as Industrial cleaners for removing rust from Stainless steel?

The answer to this question is not a simple yes or no. Home remedies can be effective in removing rust from stainless steel, however it’s important to note that the effectiveness of these methods vary greatly depending on the severity of the rust and the quality of the stainless steel.

Industrial cleaners are often used because they provide a more consistent performance than home remedies, and they may also help protect the stainless steel from further corrosion.

Ultimately, it is up to you to decide which option will work best for your particular situation. If you are looking for a quick fix, then home remedies may suffice. However, if you want a more reliable long-term solution, then industrial cleaners would be a better choice.

Specific stainless steel cleaning

If your stainless steel is discolored or rusted, you’ll need to use a different cleaning method than usual. Below are some ways to clean tough stains;


To clean those pesky fingerprints off of stainless steel, simply use soap and warm water. Dry off the surface with a microfiber cloth.

If the stains are particularly stubborn, you can use a commercially-available solution or hydrocarbon solvent to help remove them.

Oil and Grease Marks

For oil and grease marks, apply isopropyl alcohol, acetone or methylated spirit several times with a clean, non-scratching cloth until all marks are removed. Make sure to dry off the surface after cleaning.

Burnt-on stains

To remove burnt-on stains from stainless steel, use a metal brush or abrasive sponge. Start by scrubbing the area with warm water and detergent to loosen the stain before you start to scrub it off. Make sure to rinse off any residue after cleaning.


Discoloration on stainless steel can be removed by using a mild abrasive cleaner. Use the abrasive cleaner with a non-scratching cloth in circular motions to gently remove any discolorations or stains. After cleaning, rinse off the surface and dry it with a microfiber cloth.

Coffee Stains

Coffee Stains can be tackled by making a sodium bicarbonate solution (baking soda and warm water) and soaking the affected area. Once the stain has been removed, rinse off the surface and dry with a microfiber cloth.

Tea Stains

To remove tea stains from stainless steel, soak in a solution of warm water and mild detergent for 15-20 minutes before scrubbing with a metal brush or abrasive sponge. Rinse off any residue and wipe down with a microfiber cloth.