Stainless steel continues to enjoy its reign as one of the most popular finishes for appliances, and it seems that the only knock against stainless steel appliances is their tendency to show handprints, fingerprints and smudges. It's no wonder that many people purchase these appliances anyway, as stainless steel is beautiful, durable and its neutral silver hue works well with just about any decorating style and palette. For the most part, these little messes are easy to remove with a few tricks and some cleansers you probably already have around the house.
Look carefully at your stainless steel surfaces and you'll see a distinct "grain" to the metal. You'll get better results when you wipe in the direction of the grain. Wiping against the grain can leaves tiny scratches that dull the steel's surface.
Many day-to-day smudges and fingerprints can be easily removed with water and a damp, soft cloth. After wiping with the damp cloth, buff with a dry cloth to prevent water marks.
If the fingerprints are stubborn, try a few sprays of mild window cleaner, such as Windex. A bottle of the blue stuff will take away any fingerprints that water couldn't, and it dries quickly and cleanly to a bright shine.
For greasy fingerprints or food spills, dilute some dishwashing liquid with water, then wipe it directly onto the greasy spot with a sponge. Rinse with warm water and dry thoroughly.
These special sponges do the job that many cleaners cannot. They basically rub and polish stains away, revealing a clean, fresh surface underneath. Use these sponges sparingly and gently on stainless steel. They do work well, but remove a tiny bit of surface every time you use them, and can cause scratches if used to aggressively.
If you have a stainless steel sink, its shiny surface may become dull over time, especially if you have hard water in your home. Spray the entire sink with limescale remover or vinegar, let sit for several minutes, then rinse. If this does not brighten up your dull sink, repeat the process, then gently wipe it down with an erasing sponge to reveal the sink's original shine.
Some homemakers swear by wiping down their stainless steel surfaces with baby oil or olive oil. The oil lends the surface a glossy shine and at the same time coats the stainless steel to protect it from harsh chemicals or other corrosive substances. However, keep in mind that your surface will remain slightly oily, which also means slightly messy and slippery.
Take a trip the store and you'll find at least one or two special stainless steel polishes. These polishes work well, but can be expensive and often contain harsh chemicals. Try one of the methods above first, and you may love the results so much that you'll want to skip the expensive polishes. Stainless steel is quite easy to clean, and most times a special cleaner is not required to get the job done.