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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.

  • jcox

    i like to use mrs. meyers stainless steel cleaner. the lubricant is olive oil and indeed it works better than anything else. i wouldn't use wd-40 nor advise anyone generally to use it, because of the toxicity and flammability of the product.

  • cecgiv

    Best item out there is called WOW Stainless Steel Cleaner available in the Cleveland, OH. streaks, smudges, safe to use. has a website.

  • Mary Martinez

    My husband and I just bought new kitchen appliances a few months ago. When we entered the store I headed immediately to the Stainless Steel Section... "oh those coveted shiny appliances of steel." Who doesn't love a timeless and professional look. Well, as I walked the isles of steel, I was shocked at the fact that EVERY model except one (brushed steel, most expensive) was so smudged with finger and hand prints. I asked the sales women how do I clean these. She proceeded to bring out a myriad of "Steel cleaning products." The bottom line came to the sales women saying this, "If you have a LOT of time to clean or a housekeeper, then pick anyone." Well, folks, I decided on white, it's easy to clean, bright, goes with everything (we're planning more improvements) and looks fantastic. Sure we could have purchased the "Brushed Steel" for more than $1500.00 dollars extra... But, why... My white fridge holds more!?

  • Sherri

    OMG, my stainless steel looked awful! I just now used soap and water, then W-40. Now it looks like new again! Thanx-a-Bunch!!

  • 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.

    Try it out for yourself. I guarantee your amazement. AND Its cheaper than buying some kind of toxic "stainless steel" cleaner that costs 10 dollars and doesnt work at all!

  • Robert

    Also, we use pledge on the stainless steel refrigerator and the dishwasher. Look at the can sometime, it says it cleans stainless steel and it does!! I have also used WD-40 a few times when I was out of pledge. Pledge doesn't smell as bad.

  • Olivia

    What an idiotic idea! Not only is it dangerous to get on food and flammable, but think of your nice sweater or silk blouse when you accidently brush up against the fridge. Good luck getting that oil out!
    Good old White Vinegar. It cleans everthing in the house and doesn't streak.
    Geesh..what a bonehead to suggest WD-40.

  • Busy Bee

    Lemon oil. Pour very small amount on cloth and wipe going in one direction. Takes streaks, spots and prints right off. Has to be lemon oil not other furniture oils. This works the best I found.

  • Ryan

    The problem with this story is that there are about 5 different types of "Stainless Steel" appliances out there. Check with your manufacturer to be sure which type you have.

    Source: 5 Years as appliance salesperson.

  • kath

    Murphy's Oil Soap. I mix it with a little bit of water and keep it in a spray bottle. It works like a dream on all of my stainless appliances.

  • Cameron

    We use WD-40 at Home Depot, and we polish thousands of appliances daily. You spray just a small amount on an old terry cloth wash cloth, and it does a fabulous job. You do NOT spray the appliance. It works so well, that we tell all of our customers about it.
    My wife is a professional house cleaner, and recommends it also. Such a small amount is used, the smell does not linger. I doubt that residual chemicals are even a factor, and those people who worry about that need to stop using any and all spray cleaners in their homes. With a spray cleaner like 409 or Windex, the user inhales 10% of the bottle.
    When you spray a small amount of WD-40 on a rag, there is no overspray, so there is significantly less risk.

  • nancy

    i regret i cannot say for sure the name of the product, but believe it
    is ECO CLOTH.........recently purchased at Krogers, there is one
    for stainless [and few other jobs] and one for glass. To use, wet it, make a pad out of the cloth and wipe away. My frig. has never looked so good. No chemicals !! Nothing but a cloth that can be washed 300
    times [so it says]. These cloths are not cheap, but who cares if they work.........maybe the pkg. of both cloths was 15 $ [i tossed the box
    and that is reason i cannot say for sure the name......

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