I will be the first to admit that I am torn between loving and hating stainless steel. It is sleek style, and sophistication makes for such a sexy kitchen, but, on the other side of the coin, it can be a major pain in my butt to clean.
In my 15,000 hours, I have spent cleaning houses using only nontoxic green products,
I have learned a trick or two to make things sparkle and shine.
Most of these solutions are labor intensive because I refuse to use aerosolized petrochemicals or anything else that could be classified as a neurotoxin in my house or anyone else’s house.
The best cleaners for stainless steel that I have seen on the market contain propellants and unrecognizable ingredients. My personal life mission is not to put anything I cannot pronounce in, on, or near my body.
If I can eat it, then it is safe to use. So what do I do about cleaning stainless steel?
Tips and Tricks:
1) It depends on the type of stainless steel. There are some that must be treated with something because they clean up perfectly every time.
There are the plastic-y type which are just made to look a bit like stainless; they are also super easy to clean. Then there is the terrible type that shows every drip, every fingerprint, AND is a pain in the butt to clean.
2) Always work with the grain of the stainless. Stainless steel is regular steel coated with the stainless part (chrome, nickel, other stuff) and then polished or brushed. Sinks and appliances are brushed, and pots and pans are polished.
Because things are brushed it also means that it is really easy to buff out scratches and scuffs using an appropriate grit of sandpaper. Most hardware stores will sell a kit. Working with the grain will reduce unsightly scratches, and all the dirt and grease is caught up in the grooves anyway.
My general strategy, if it is really greasy and grimy, is to start with either all-purpose or heavy-duty Clean Via. It cuts through grease well. It does tend to leave a bit of a film on shiny surfaces, so I follow by rinsing with a damp rag and dry really well.
If I am still not satisfied, or it dries only to show streaks even though I rinsed well, I will use a bit of cooking oil to polish it up.
What? Cooking oil to clean things? That seems counter-intuitive.
Trust me, it works. This is like magic. It takes work, arm muscle and time, but boy does it look good!
How I clean stainless steel
On the cleanest, fluffiest rag you can find, put about a quarter sized amount of oil in the corner of your rag (that is of course folded into quarters). Olive oil works, but I find that the runnier (less viscous) the oil, the better: canola oil works better in my opinion.
Working with the grain, buff this into the stainless surface. Spread it all around. You will be able to tell where you have been and what sections need more oil.
When you have touched the entire surface and have it evenly coated with a very thin layer of oil, flip your rag over to a super clean, dry, fluffy side and buff it to a high shine.
Like I said: this takes work. It is not as fast as spraying some aerosolized petrochemicals, wiping, and getting on with your day. At least, using our nontoxic method, you do not have to worry about your kid sucking on the magnets they pull off the fridge.
Now. Do we offer stainless steel polishing as a service? It will really depend on the situation and if you request it. We no longer carry the oil around with us because it has made more problems in our buckets than it has solved. If you would like us to try to make your stainless super duper shiny, let us know. You will need to leave out the oil for us.
Please don’t worry about cross-contamination. If we were to use your oil, we would never put the rag to the lip of the container and dip like that.
No. That is gross. We will gently pour, from enough height that the oil container is never in risk of touching our rags (even though they are clean), so you can continue to use your bottle of oil without worrying about what junkies may be living in it now.