How to clean stainless steel – bring shine back to appliances, pans, sinks and more

How to clean stainless steel using vinegar, baking soda and more to restore the shine on kitchen appliances, cutlery, sinks and more

stainless steel hob with a stainless steel kettle on it
(Image credit: Getty)

When you know how to clean stainless steel appliances, pans, cutlery and more it will make all the difference. After all, no one like the look of dull and dirty anything, so If your fridge door, best chef knives or kitchen sink has dirty finger prints and cooking splashes all over it, it's time to get clued up. 

The great part is that restoring shine is easily done with natural vinegar, baking soda and more, plus, the right non-abrasive tools. Keep scrolling to get to grips with cleaning stainless steel properly to make your kitchen a spotless, shiny and welcoming space.

How to clean a stainless steel hob

  1. To begin cleaning a stainless steel hob, remove the pan support grates, burners and rings and leave them to soak in a sink full of hot, soapy water.
  2. Spray the hob with a multi-surface cleaner or wipe a cream cleaner on with a clean cloth. Leave for at least two minutes to loosen any burnt food or other grime.
  3. Remove the cleaning solution using a microfibre or other non-abrasive cloth. It doesn’t have to be microfibre, but should definitely be soft – nothing that will scratch the hob.
  4. Use a toothbrush to clean any hard-to-reach places your cloth can’t reach and to remove any stubborn food debris.
  5. Buff dry with a clean polishing cloth.
  6. Clean any remaining dirt from the burners, rings and grate which are soaking in the sink using a scourer. Dry thoroughly before replacing them.
  7. For an added high shine you can wipe a very small amount of baby or coconut oil over the top of your hob with a kitchen paper towel. This final step will make it sparkle.

Grey handleless wall units with a foxed mirror splashback

(Image credit: Kasia Fiszer)

How to clean stainless steel with baking soda

Baking or bicarbonate of soda is a great stainless steel cleaner as it’s abrasive enough to scrub away stuck on grease, food and lime scale, but not so abrasive it will scratch the shiny steel. Use it on sinks and kitchen appliances big and small.

  1. First rinse or wipe down the area with clean, warm water.
  2. Sprinkle baking soda over the entire area, if doing the sink this includes faucets. 
  3. Allow the solution to sit for a few minutes while it does its work. Use a damp, soft cloth to wipe it down. 
  4. Wipe the cloth around the area, getting into any corners using an old toothbrush if necessary.
  5. Spray undiluted white vinegar over any residue. The vinegar and soda will fizz when they come into contact with each other. Vinegar is a good disinfectant and great for removing water spots.
  6. Once the area is looking clean, wipe down using warm water and buff dry with a soft, clean rag.
  7. You can polish further by buffing oil into the area using a dry cloth.

Top tip for sinks: If you want to know how to clean a stainless steel sink take note that sparkling water can be used to renew the shine. Simply pour sparkling water into the basin and rub around with a clean cloth.

A shot of the kitchen sink, fitted in a marble-effect worktop over deep blue kitchen units

(Image credit: Kasia Fiszer)

How to clean stainless steel pans

  1. To properly clean stainless steel pans, fill the bottom of the dirty pan with a layer of warm water and add 200ml of vinegar.
  2. Bring the pan of water to the boil. You may notice it already getting cleaner by the second.
  3. Remove the pan from the heat and add two tablespoons of bicarbonate of soda. It will start to fizz as the solution tackles the burnt-on food. You can pour out most of the vinegar first if you don’t want too much fizzing. Leave the mixture to work its magic for two minutes.
  4. Empty the pan and gently scrub with a sponge scourer as normal – do not use steel wool pads or copper-based scrubbers as they will scratch your pan.
  5. If there are any super stubborn marks that don't come off with the scourer add an extra bit of bicarbonate of soda and leave for 10 minutes before scrubbing again.

Top tip: To clean burn marks from your pans when they’ve been left on the stove for too long, use a mildly-abrasive cleaner, such as Bar Keeper's Friend. Sprinkle onto the bottom of your pan, add a little water to form a paste and scrub with a wet sponge. Rinse thoroughly.

How to clean stainless steel cutlery

We spoke to Viners about the best way to clean and care for stainless steel cutlery. 'A stainless steel blade can be washed with hot water and a mild soap. We don’t recommend putting any stainless steel knives in a dishwasher, as this can damage the coating and affect the overall look of the knife.  Be sure to place the blade on the side of the sink facing away from you when washing your knives to avoid any injuries or accidents.'

Method:

  1. Clean your stainless steel cutlery in warm, soapy water – your usual washing up liquid is perfect.
  2. Viners recommends to 'Use a brush with an elevated handle, or soft sponge to wash your knives. If you are using a brush make sure it has soft bristles to avoid damaging the coating on the knives.'
  3. Hand-dry with a clean non-abrasive cloth to remove any water spots. The quicker you dry it the better it will look. 'After rinsing your knife with water, dry the blade back and forth with a cotton tea towel. Ensure all your knives are completely dry before storing to avoid any rusting' suggested Viners.
  4. To remove stains and polish you can use any of the following natural cleaning solutions – vinegar, cider, lemon juice, olive oil and soda water.
  5. To polish with vinegar or cider, buff your cutlery in a circular motion with a soft damp cloth lightly dampened with cider or undiluted white vinegar.
  6. To polish with soda water, rinse the cutlery in the liquid and dry immediately with a dry non-abrasive cloth.
  7. To polish with lemon juice or olive oil, apply directly with a soft dry cloth, gently rubbing away at the stain. Then buff dry with a different cloth.

How to care for stainless steel

  • Use the right tools: Make sure you don’t scratch the stainless steel sink by using a scourer. The best cloths to use on stainless steel  is microfibre because these super-soft, non-abrasive cloths give you a great streak-free shine, remove gunk really effectively and last ages. Plus they go in the wash no problem. 
  • Dry by hand: Using the dishwasher for stainless steel cutlery could damage the coating.
  • The right storage: Keep knives stowed away and hang pans in warm dry areas that don't get direct sunlight.

Shiny like new! 🙌