- More and more people are choosing stainless-steel home appliances because the metal is durable and adds a sleek and modern appearance.
- Unfortunately, a stainless-steel finish is susceptible to fingerprints, streaks, and smudges.
- TriNova Stainless Steel Cleaner and Polish can get rid of those blemishes and leave your appliances gleaming.
After spending years drooling over the burnished, industrial look of commercial kitchens, I finally had the chance to bring stainless steel into my home kitchen. I envisioned the gleam of my cooktop, oven, sink, dishwasher, and refrigerator next to stone countertops. What I did not get was the kitchen staff to help keep the stainless steel shining.
Stainless steel has plenty of great qualities. It is extremely durable and resistant to water damage and rust. But it can show every fingerprint and smudge left by hands and every water spot that is not properly wiped away. As I shopped for new appliances, I discovered that stainless steel is offered in three finishes: mirror, brushed, and matte. As you can guess, a mirror finish is very shiny and reflective, a brushed finish appears more textured and is offered in a range in brightness, and a matte finish is very flat without any appearance of shine.
I chose a brushed finish because when it comes to maintenance difficulty, it is right in the middle. I did not want to see every problem immediately on a mirror finish, and the matte finish seemed to suck all the light from my kitchen. A brushed finish conceals many of the fingerprints but still brings some brightness to the room.
As you learn about each cleaner we tested, you’ll also read about wiping the metal following the grain. As with wood grain, it is important to clean and buff stainless steel by following the grain, to get a shiny finish. Stainless steel is a combination of several metals and during production, a grain is developed. Some appliance manufacturers apply the metal sheets with a horizontal grain, some a vertical. Take a few minutes to look your appliances over and then follow that grain (slight streaks of color variation) when cleaning and polishing.
Before we reveal the best in stainless-steel cleaners, I must share a list of what not to use to clean stainless steel:
- Harsh scouring powders and abrasive sponges
- Steel wool
- Chlorine bleach
- Oven cleaner
If you use the wrong type of cleaner, there is no way to reverse the damage and nothing will restore the finish. If you live in an area with extremely hard water, cleaning is going to be difficult because of the minerals in the water that will leave spots.
Since equipping my kitchen with stainless steel a few years ago, I have been testing various cleaning products and care tips. Frequent cleaning with less elbow grease appeals to me. I’m always looking for the most effective, the easiest to use, and the best value in products for myself and others.
One tip I swear by is using a microfiber cloth when I clean stainless steel. Often, I can skip any type of cleaner by simply wiping down the appliances daily with just a dry microfiber cloth. Tough stains need a cleaner and I do thoroughly clean the appliances weekly and finish with a wipe-down with a dry microfiber cloth to polish away any streaks.
Here are the best stainless-steel cleaners you can buy:
- Best overall: TriNova Stainless Steel Cleaner and Polish
- Best wipes: Weiman Stainless Steel Cleaning Wipes
- Best aerosol cleaner: CLR Stainless Steel Cleaner
- Best natural cleaner: Therapy Stainless Steel Cleaner & Polish
- Best homemade solution: Heinz Cleaning Vinegar and Pompeian Pure Olive Oil
Keep scrolling to read more about our top picks.
TriNova Stainless Steel Cleaner and Polish eliminates grease and smudges, and it helps prevent them too.
Since I first coveted stainless steel in commercial kitchens, I turned to the expert users who recommended TriNova Stainless Steel Cleaner and Polish for my home appliances. Professionals have been using it for years to keep commercial refrigerators shining.
Not only does TriNova remove food splatters, grease, and smudges easily with a non-abrasive, water-based product, it also coats the surface of stainless steel to help repel fingerprints and dust so it stays shiny longer. Simply give the bottle a good shake and spray-on the cleaner. The solution is slightly thick so it doesn’t run down the front of appliances too quickly.
TriNova includes a large microfiber towel with each cleaner purchase. Fold it into quarters and use one side to wipe the cleaner in the direction of the grain. Finish by using a dry side of the towel for a final buff of the surface to increase the shine. TriNova can be used on any stainless-steel surface including small appliances like toasters and stand mixers, the exterior of pots and pans, and even car wheels.
With more than 300 reviews on Amazon, most customers give TriNova a 5-star rating. One said, "This cleans more than stainless steel! It works like magic on glass cooktops. It also works on hard plastic. I have a raised dog feeding station that is about 14 years old. I’ve tried everything made to get the spots off but in all these years, nothing worked. I could get it clean but not back to its original gloss without spots. Yesterday, cleaning cloth in hand, I tried this stuff on the feeding station and I again have a glossy stainless station for my dog’s dishes. This stuff is great. I recommend it."
Pros: Removes grease and smudges easily, leaves no streaks, comes with a microfiber cloth, water-based formula
Cons: Not readily available in mass-market stores
Buy TriNova Stainless Steel Cleaner in an 18-ounce spray bottle with microfiber towel on Amazon for $12.97
Perfect for tight spaces and quick cleanups, Weiman Stainless Steel Cleaning Wipes can make fingerprints vanish.
Any surface is easy to clean if you do it frequently, and this rule applies to stainless steel. In between deep cleaning, Weiman Stainless Steel Cleaning Wipes are perfect for quick, everyday cleanups like cooking splatters and fingerprints on refrigerator doors.
The wipes are offered in a convenient, resealable pop-top canister to keep them from drying out — similar to other household cleaning wipes you may already have. To use, simply wipe in the direction of the metal’s grain and then buff with a soft, dry cloth to prevent streaks. Smudges, water spots, and stains will be gone.
I also love to use these wipes to remove greasy smears and splatters on my outdoor grill. And nothing will fit into the tight spot where handles join a stainless-steel panel like Weiman Wipes. When I attempt to clean those spots with some liquid cleaners, the cleaner runs down the panel before I can get my cloth in there to clean.
With more than 800 hundred reviews on Amazon, these wipes are rated with 4.7-stars. Even with the convenience, at a cost of just $0.23 per sheet, Weiman Wipes are more cost-effective than some spray-on cleaners.
Pros: Wipes conform to tight spaces, useful for quick clean-ups, disposable, removes fingerprints and smudges
Cons: Darkens some types of metal like aluminum, wipes will dry out quickly if the canister is not properly closed
Buy Weiman Stainless Steel Wipes in a two-pack of 30-count canisters (60 wipes) on Amazon for $13.96
Best aerosol cleaner
With just one spray, CLR Stainless Steel Cleaner will leave stainless steel clean and streak-free.
Almost every stainless-steel cleaner recommends using the product to clean away soil and stains and then coming back with a soft, dry cloth to buff away any streaks the cleaner has left behind. With CLR Stainless Steel Cleaner, the second step is eliminated — no buffing is needed.
My microwave is mounted at eye-level which makes the top of the appliance above my head. Cleaning anything above my head is not a favorite chore so I like a one-step process. Just a good shake of the can, a quick spray with the cleaner, and one pass with a microfiber cloth leaves the finish shiny and streak-free.
With more than 200 reviews on Amazon, 78% give the CLR a 4 or 5-star rating. One reviewer found a use I hadn’t thought about: "Used at work on a water fountain that hasn’t seen a good scrubbing in three years (really, really hard AZ water). Every white piece of mineral deposit plus the hard water stains were 100% gone. I don’t mean kinda gone, TOTALLY gone. No chemical smell or oily residue. Bizarre, but true." Another said, "This is the only stainless-steel cleaner I have found that actually cleans and polishes without leaving residue behind. I have recommended this product to several people, all with excellent results. Be sure to follow directions, clean with the grain of the stainless not in a circular motion."
While the product is scented, it is very light and dissipates quickly. The steel can is recyclable.
Pros: One-step cleaning, works well to remove smudges
Cons: Petroleum-based product, should never be used near a gas flame or hot appliance
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