One reason stainless steel appliances are popular in the kitchen today is because the surface is resistant to rust and corrosion. That is only true, however, if dirt, grime and dust are not allowed to collect on the mirror-like surface. Fortunately, stainless steel cleans easily. To avoid the pitfalls of scratched surfaces, here are some handy hints and methods you can use to take care of your stainless steel appliances:

Use water and a cloth. The least risky method of cleaning stainless steel is to simply use tap water and a soft cloth rag to gently wipe the surface clean on a regular basis.

Mild detergent and a cloth. If the surface is dirtier than normal, use a mild liquid detergent like dish soap, warm water and a soft rag for the cleaning. Apply in limited amounts to avoid spills and streaks.

For fingerprint removal, use glass cleaner. Those sticky, icky fingerprint marks on stainless steel are the number one complaint from owners of the shiny appliances. Regular spray-on glass cleaner or household ammonia will cut the fingerprint marks with ease and leave no trace behind. Hint: spray the cleaner directly onto the cloth, not on the metal surface. And always wipe in a gently, circular motion until the fingerprint are gone. Wipe dry with a clean towel.

Using stainless steel cleaner. If you notice any staining or scratching to the surface or if it appears dull, use a recommended stainless steel cleaner. Read the directions carefully, then clean a small area in an inconspicuous area to test. Always polish with the grain of the stainless steel, never against it.

Owner’s manual. Read the owner’s manual when you first receive the appliance and before attempting to clean it. Follow the manufacturer’s recommended cleaning instructions to prolong the life and looks of your appliance to its maximum. Use extra caution on cleaning some of the newer appliances. They might have a protective clear-coat that could be damaged if cleaned incorrectly.

Despite its name, stainless steel can stain. Any scratch or nick to the surface and contaminants to penetrate to the inner core can cause staining or corrosion. If not used properly, name-brand cleaners and even water can cause damage. Famed home improvement expert Bob Vila has come up with a list of things NOT to do when cleaning your stainless steel appliances. Take heed…a word to the wise should be sufficient.

NEVER use any product that contains chloride as a stainless steel
cleaner. They can corrode the surface and cause staining.
NEVER try to clean a stainless steel surface with oven cleaners.
NEVER use an abrasive item like steel wool or steel bristle brushes or
metal pads.
AVOID cleaning a stainless steel surface when it is hot. Wait until its
cool to the touch before you start the cleaning process.
DON’T use hard water to clean with, if possible. If you only have hard water at your
home, sure it is clean and free of grit or dirt.