Commercial stainless steel cleaners can be some of the fumiest, most flammable products in your home. This is because the vast majority of them contain a waterless solvent (read: petrochemical). This gives you a spray-on, wipe off experience requiring no elbow grease. Another magical property of the commercial brands is corn starch, long known to window cleaners as the best way to make a clean window sparkle. Next, many contain quartz or other abrasives to remove scratches. Lastly, they often contain a bit of soap.
Most stainless steel surfaces can be easily cleaned with warm water and a cloth and shines with a bit of olive oil. This gets daily dirt…if you don’t have kids. For millions of tiny, greasy fingerprints, you need a bit of grease cutting. For that I recommend the following recipe. It beautifully cleans windows, granite, and stainless steel.:
All-Purpose Cleaner for the Granite/Marble/Tile Dominated House
2 cups water
1/2 cup 70% alcohol
5 drops of Dawn (or some soap shavings if you’re crazy like me)
(optional) a few drops of essential oil if you hate the alcohol smell
- Put it in a spray bottle and use it on almost everything: counters, floors, appliances.
When you need to get out the big guns…
Sometimes, you need to really work over a stainless surface.
- Your first defense is baking soda. Make a paste, spread it on, let it sit least ten minutes to overnight, scrub in according to the grain of the surface, wipe off. This gives a light scouring and helps remove stains and hard water spots.
- For hard water spots and some stains, you could also do a vinegar soak. Use soaked paper towels for awkwardly shaped surfaces. May need to let it sit overnight.
- For deeper stains and fine scratches, your next line of defense is buffing it out, WITH THE GRAIN, in the following order: 1)a magic eraser, 2) then Bon Ami or other “scratchless” calcite/feldspar based powders (*anyone know if you can use garden lime as a DIY Bon Ami?), 3)then tougher silicone/quartz based powders, 4)then fine grade steel wool or wet, fine grade sand paper (see your manufacturer for what specific grade to use.)
- Finally, get out the petrochemicals. Remember how Grandma cleaned things with kerosene? That’s the kicker in commercial stainless cleaner. You can BUY a product like Goo Gone or Stainless Cleaner, or you can just go to the hardware section and get some mineral spirits or lighter fluid. Dampen a rag and wipe it down. This should eat up any remaining goo. You can also do this with any of the souring methods above, but we assume most of our readers want to avoid the fumes as long as possible.
So there you go!