how to make homemade stainless steel cleaner

When it comes to cleaning your appliances and stainless surfaces, many commercial stainless steel cleaners are available, claiming to give the best results. However, what if we told you that you could bring back the shine by making a cleaning solution using just common ingredients that you probably already have in your kitchen?

We are going to show you how to make homemade stainless steel cleaner. So next time you want to get your surfaces looking like new, you’ll be able to without having to head to the supermarket.

What to Know Before Cleaning Stainless Steel Surfaces

Stainless Steel kitchen sink

Before you start using a homemade stainless steel cleaner, it’s important to check the owner’s manual for your appliances and surfaces to make sure they don’t have any specific cleaning requirements.

Most stainless steel appliances are non-coated and come in a matte, brushed or mirror finish. Typically you can clean these surfaces with any homemade stainless steel cleaners we will talk about.

However, some stainless steel appliances have a special coating designed to resist fingerprints and smudges. Usually, you should only clean this with soap and water. Acidic products, including white vinegar, can damage the oleophobic (oil-repellent) coating causing it to stop working as designed.

How Different Homemade Cleaners Can Leave Your Stainless Steel Appliances Sparkling

We’re going to illustrate to you a few different homemade stainless steel cleaners that you can try to find the one that works best for your home.

Method 1: Use Vinegar as a Simple DIY Stainless Steel Cleaner

Vinegar is the basis of many homemade stainless steel cleaners as it is incredibly effective at removing finger marks and grime, thanks to its acetic acid content. Unlike a lot of cleaning products, vinegar is safe to use around children, pets and food.

Some people don’t like the pungent smell of cleaning vinegar, but it evaporates quickly in a few minutes.

You can use cost-effective undiluted white distilled vinegar for cleaning stainless steel appliances without adding other ingredients. Put some in a glass spray bottle, then spray it onto your surfaces. Gently rub along the grain with a clean cloth. Spray a little water onto the steel and wipe it dry with some paper towels to finish. If you live in a hard water area, it’s best to use distilled water to avoid marks.

Method 2: Lemon Essential Oil Homemade Stainless Steel Cleaner Spray

This is an effective homemade stainless steel cleaner that combines natural white vinegar, lemon essential oil and water with degreasing dish detergent.

Combine one and a half cups of water and plain white vinegar in a spray bottle. Add ten drops of your regular washing up liquid and 24 drops of lemon essential oil and shake well before using.

Spray the cleaning solution onto your stainless steel surface, leave it to settle for a minute and wipe clean along the steel grain with a microfiber cloth. You should notice that the lemon oil not only smells nice but also brings an attractive natural and smudge-free shine to your stainless steel appliances.

Method 3: Alcohol and Vinegar Homemade Stainless Steel Cleaner

Adding alcohol to the cleaner makes it evaporate especially rapidly, making this a good all-natural choice if you have problems with streaks.

Mix ½ a cup of rubbing alcohol with ⅓ of distilled white vinegar and one cup of water. Shake the concoction together in a spray bottle and use it with a microfiber cloth to leave your stainless refrigerator and other appliances shining and streak-free.

Method 4: DIY Stainless Steel Cleaner Paste with Hydrogen Peroxide

If you’ve got stainless steel that needs extensive polish, you can try this cleaning paste that uses some more exotic ingredients. This also works if you need to clean stubborn marks from your pans.

Carefully mix one teaspoon of hydrogen peroxide with three teaspoons of cream of tartar (potassium bitartrate) in a small bowl. Ensure you wear rubber gloves and eye protection when mixing this to be safe.

The paste that forms can be applied to marks on the stainless steel and left to dry. When it’s set, wipe off with a clean cloth soaked in water. Polish the steel clean with a soft dry cloth and dry with a paper towel.

Method 5: Cleaning With Vinegar, Baking Soda and Lemon Juice

You can put together an impressive multi-part stainless steel cleaning program using ingredients that you’ll probably already have in your kitchen.

Eco-friendly natural cleaning solution made from baking soda and lemon juice

Take a clean cloth and liberally soak it with vinegar. Use the distilled white kind, not malted. Wipe over the stainless steel surfaces along its grain to remove greasy marks and fingerprints.

Next, mix some baking soda and water to make a paste and rub this onto any dirty patches. Leave it to sit for about ten minutes before scrubbing it clean with a toothbrush if needed and wiping it off with a dry towel.

Use a clean, soft cloth dipped in lemon juice to remove limescale and disinfect the surface. Clean the steel with a clean damp cloth before drying it with a fresh microfiber cloth.

Method 6: Using Olive Oil or Mineral Oil to Bring Back the Shine

Once you’ve cleaned your surface with one of our homemade stainless steel cleaners, you’ll want to apply some oil to make sure that it stays clean and smudge-free for as long as possible.

When the metal is clean and dry, use a clean, dry microfiber cloth and apply a little oil along the grain of the steel. Olive oil works well except in areas that may be exposed to strong direct sunlight. You can also use food-grade mineral oil.

Once applied the oil to the entire appliance and removed any streaks, use a fresh, clean, soft cloth to remove excess oil and leave a shine.

Method 7: Homemade Stainless Steel Cleaner for Really Mucky Surfaces (Including Your Sink)

Some stainless steel surfaces get incredibly grubby, and you need something a bit more aggressive to get them clean. When the steel finish isn’t decorative, you can use a more aggressive homemade cleaner to scrub them back to their former glory.

We use baking soda combined with salt to make a special powder that’s excellent at removing dirt and blemishes from your sink. You shouldn’t use this on polished or brushed surfaces as it may leave fine scratches.

A woman cleans the kitchen sink.

Take two parts of baking soda and one table salt. Use an old salt or sugar dispenser for storage, and make sure they mix well.

Make the stainless steel damp with water, and then sprinkle the powder generously all over. Let the powder sit for a minute before scrubbing it in with a brush or pad. You’ll find that without much elbow grease, the powder removes all the dirt and grime and leaves your sink bright and shining. Rinse with water and polish clean with a clean, soft cloth.

The Best All-Natural Stainless Steel Cleaner for Your Spray Bottle

If you’d like to avoid using any artificial chemical products when cleaning, we’re going to show you an easy recipe to make a natural stainless steel cleaner that only uses regular ingredients. You don’t need to worry about this cleaner being a compromise. It still cuts through dirt and grease and leaves your appliances and surfaces with a beautiful shine without using any harsh chemicals.

Take a repurposed plastic spray bottle and make sure it’s clean. Fill it with one part water and one part white distilled vinegar and shake to mix. Spray the stainless steel cleaner generously onto the appliance or surface and wipe it with a clean microfiber cloth. Repeat as necessary to remove any remaining grime.

The stainless steel cleaner solution will quickly evaporate, and once the steel is completely dry, you can apply your olive oil polish. Use a clean, dry cloth to apply a small amount of olive oil. Buff the olive oil into the stainless steel following the metal’s grain. The olive oil will leave your stainless steel looking shiny and new and repel greasy fingerprints from reappearing.

If you don’t like the vinegar smell, try adding lemon essential oil drops to your spray bottle to get a pleasant citrus aroma.

How to Clean Your Stainless Steel Sink Only Using Natural Products

Stainless steel sinks can get mucky quickly, and you might think you’ll have to use a chemical cleaner to keep them clean. However, it’s possible to keep your sink sparkling without harsh chemicals. 

Use the vinegar and water stainless steel cleaner described above to shine your sink, taps and drainer. It works effectively to clean limescale and grime.

If you ever find yourself with some sliced lemon, perhaps left from making a dressing, rather than wasting it, you can use it as a stainless steel polish for your sink and taps. Just rub the cut lemon over the stainless steel sink surfaces, and the acidic juice will cut through dirt and dissolve limescale.

Finally, you can use baking soda paste to remove any tough dirt. Mix baking soda with water to make a thick paste and apply it to the grime. Let it sit for about 20 minutes before scrubbing it with a toothbrush. Rinse it with fresh water and dry it with a clean cloth.

Keep Your Kitchen Shiny!

As we’ve looked at how to make homemade stainless steel cleaner, we’ve seen that you can use many common kitchen ingredients to create highly effective cleaning products for yourself.

Which one is ideal for you will depend on you and your kitchen. Don’t be afraid to experiment but test different mixes to find the best homemade stainless steel cleaner to keep your kitchen clean and shiny.

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