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It's no mystery why stainless steel is one of the most popular finishes for the kitchen: it's chic and goes with everything. But if you own stainless appliances, you know the cold, hard truth: they're a chore to keep clean. Every time you wipe off a fingerprint, a new one seems to appear.

Here are a few tried-and-true techniques for eradicating smudges on your stainless -- and preventing those smears from showing up in the first place.

For starters, there's no need to go buying special stainless steel wipes. Here's my secret weapon: glass cleaner. Yes! It's cheap, you probably already have it in your home, and it works to clean stainless like a charm. Just make sure to use a non-abrasive cloth.

Prevent those smudges from coming back using a product you can find right in your garage. WD-40 is a grease that lubricates just about anything that squeaks or sticks, and it also repels water.

Spray a cloth or rag with some WD-40 and wipe down the stainless steel surface thoroughly, allowing a few minutes for the lubricant to dry. Don't overcoat, but be sure to cover the entire surface.

If you see streaks or missed spots, you can do a second coating. Adding the WD-40 acts as a barrier against fingerprints for about 2-4 weeks. Note: WD-40 can contaminate food, so do not use on surfaces such as sinks or countertops. Also, be careful near your stove -- it's highly flammable!

Alternatively, you can apply a thin coat of Vaseline or baby oil to bring back the shine. Just put the petroleum jelly or oil onto a washcloth and buff the surface like you would wax a car.

Presto! Good as new.

  • Dan Daily

    Sorry to blow out your bubble, but using glass cleaner will leave a white film on the stainless that is even harder to get out. Also, put oil on it? You have to be nuts. Sorry, the only effective treatment I've ever seen or used are those throw away wipes you don't seem to want to use. Why would that be? You pay 2,300 dollars for a top on the line appliance and are too cheap to buy the wipes? Wow. The wipe will also work mighty fine on gas grills, if you think you have problems with keeping the refrigerator clean, just try on a gas grill for size.

  • Kay

    Agreed! I own a house cleaning company and I can tell ya I wish we could use glass cleaner to clean way! Wipes or stainless spray are the most effective ways to clean it.

  • gramnan

    Dan.......I have purchased every stainless cleaner on the market and NONE can compare with WD40. Your comment indicates to me that you are just a jerk. If you haven't tried it, how would you know that the wipes are better? I have been polishing my SS appliances with WD40 for 8 years and they always look like new.

  • Dan Daily

    You call me a jerk? You use a spray can of WD-40 on your refrigerator? Anyone that would use such a product NEAR food has to have their heads examined. Wow!

  • nErd

    Actually i have came across an outstanding way to make stainless steel look brand new. Its really simple. I use cooking spray lol. 100% canola oil cooking spray. I sprayed it on a rag, and polished it up real easily and it makes all my stainless steel look like i just bought it. I would however NOT, under ANY circumstances recommend WD 40. that crap stinks and it is HIGHLY flamable. I wouldn't want that crap sprayed in my kitchen where i eat and have food around, or possibly an open flame from a toaster or a stove and have an explosion. so use FOOD GRADE oil to polish your stainless steel such as PAM, or the store brand 100% Canola Oil cooking spray. Also you dont want to leave your appliances greasy so apply it with one cloth and polish it with a dry cloth so that there is no oily residue. I guarantee this to be the best and MOST effective method of making stainless steel looking brand new.

  • craig

    why , would someone ever advise using chemicals around food , and food storage ??? the transfer from surface to hands and then hands to utensils , and food ?? and then recommend a product that is FLAMABLE ?????? you just know that some knuckle head will not think about what they are doing and end of burning themselves or the house down !!!
    that's a real bone head idea !!!!!!

  • skippy3715

    Well....... i have been using WD-40 for years. I wouldn't suggest using windex though. I first wash frig with warm water and soap, dry and then spray a cloth with WD-40, wipe the frig with it and let it day then buff with cloth. It stays looking great for weeks and I have kids. Yeah.

  • Susan

    Totally agree with you, Craig! The article clearly states that WD-40 can contaminate food-so they recommend using it on the refrigerator? No thanks. I will stick to my stainless wipes. Love them-easy to use and quick.

  • emgny

    I too have stainless steel appliances- refrigerator, stove and microwave. Using toxic and flammable substances to keep them shiny seems a bit extreme. We use a mask when using WD- 40 for its intended purposes. My family's health and well being are more important than a smudge on an appliance.

  • sammyK

    I use a product called Ultra Chem cleaner and conditioner.
    Put 1/2 ounce in spray bottle, fill the rest with water. Works great.

  • cathy718

    The best thing to use on stainless steel is Pledge. It not only takes all the smudges and fingerprints out, it leaves a shiny coat and a seal for future fingerprints. Comes out beautiful. Just be careful not to get it on the floor, it can make it slippery.

  • Hugh Jassol

    Good call, Cathy. You might be surprised to hear that I know a lot of guys who polish their Harley Davidsons with Pledge, and they swear by it. I haven't tried it, but they claim it's the best - paint, chrome and all. If that's true, I guess it would do well on stainless, too. Also, anyone who's ever used WD40 knows what it smells like and I don't think I'd want that odor in my house, especially in the kitchen.

  • cmoores86

    I was told by the appliance store to never use glass cleaner due to the ammonia in it. It can cause rusty looking spots. The stainless wipes I have came from a friend who is in the heating ands cooling business. I only use them a few times a year because the directions tell you to wear rubber gloves when applying due to the toxic chemicals. I think I will try WD-40. Nothing to lose.

  • connie

    The best thing to use is mineral oil. Just spread a thin coat and buff off with a soft, lint free cloth. The salesman at Sears told us this when we bought our new fridge.He said it is the same as those expensive stainless steel cleaners. I have been using it for 2 years now with no problem. New smudges, just re buff!

  • Mari

    omg I have bought SO many stainless cleaners...I tried the wipes and didnt love those, you have to use so many to clean all the appliances. Plus I have a stainless water cooler and washer and dryer...the BEST stuff I bought is at Home Depot, have now seen it in Publix too. Its in a white can and lid and its called Sprayway Stainless cleaner. It comes out looking like an oil and it shines beautifully, I just use and soft rag. You dont have to buff or any of that. ALso the same brand of spray glass cleaner(right next to it in store) is great and smells really good. I bought these two items on a whim and will never use anything else. Trust me, I have told all my neighbors and they are in love with them too.

  • Hannah

    Terrible advice! No chemical should ever be used for an unintended purpose. What if you get it on your hands then make a sandwich for your kid from lunchmeant you just touched with WD40? Is it worth the risk to save a few pennies but poison your family?

    Stainless Steel is NOT hard to keep clean. The sprays that are specially formulated for SS are FINE to use and considering how little of the product you have to use at one time, it is not that expensive. NEVER use will ruin the surface eventually making your very expensive appliances look awful. My SIL destroyed all of her SS appliances using Windex on them....a very expensive mistake.

    Use the RIGHT products for cleaning and your SS appliances will look great for years to come.

  • Jennifer

    Hannah I agree with you. I've been using a spray SS foam cleaner that the installers recommended. Using products for other than their original intended purpose puts us at risk. Besides the obvious toxic questions, those products may work in the short term but build up a sticky residue over time or leave spots, or who knows what. Oils attract and hold dirt, so using even olive oil doesn't sound very good to me, and WD40--never!

  • Manky

    Try Pledge. IKt works

  • patricia

    Heard from the appliance delivery guy that all they use on their stainless appliances in the shoreroom is WD-40. Thank goodness I spent less than 10 seconds doing some research online and found the perfect solution.....olive oil. Just a tiny bit on a soft rag will remove all stains and fingerprints and will prevent them from returning. Plus, the olive oil is always close by the refrigerator, duh!

  • patricia

    Please, typo nazis, I meant to say "showroom"


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