How to Clean Stainless Steel Appliances Without Streaks

Paradise Appliance
July 8, 2024
Refrigerator Repair

Stainless steel appliances are sleek, attractive, and aesthetic—and that’s why they’re rapidly becoming more popular than the standard white appliance. However, they have one downside: they show fingerprints and streaks, so cleaning them can be a nightmare.  

If you’re feeling stressed out by your streaky appliances, don’t worry. There are some simple techniques you can use to ensure your appliances remain clean, shiny, and streak-free. Follow our simple cleaning tips and your appliances will be sparkling clean and looking their best in no time. 

Why Do Stainless Steel Appliances Show Streaks?

So, why are stainless steel appliances so much streakier than traditional white appliances? The answer lies in the smooth, reflective surface of the stainless steel, which easily shows streaks. These are commonly caused by:


Natural oils from your hands cling to the stainless steel surfaces, which reflect light and make obvious marks. 

Mineral deposits

If your tap water has a high mineral content, it can leave behind marks made from minerals when it evaporates. This is particularly noticeable in stainless steel appliances. 

Cleaning product residue

You have to be particularly careful when choosing cleaning products for stainless steel appliances, as the wrong ones can leave a streaky, smeared appearance. 

The Best Cleaning Products To Choose

Choosing your cleaning products carefully is one of the most important things you can do to minimize the appearance of streaks. Here are some of our must-haves when it comes to keeping your appliances sparkling clean:

Microfiber cloths

Stainless steel shows scratches easily, as well as oil and streaks. Microfiber cloths gently clean the surface of your appliances without the risk of scratching. They’re also great at absorbing any residual oil or liquid left on the surface. 

White vinegar

This is a great natural cleaning product that’s non-toxic and residue-free. Make up a solution of one part white vinegar and two parts water, and keep it in a spray bottle for easy, streak-free cleaning. 

Diluted dish soap

For stubborn grime, diluted dish soap is your friend—just make sure it’s well diluted! A few drops of dish soap in warm water is an easy and effective way to remove grease and grime without leaving marks. 

Baby oil or olive oil

Once you’re finished cleaning your stainless steel appliance, wipe on a small amount of baby oil or olive oil to polish the surface. 

Cleaning Methods for a Streak-Free Finish

The cleaning techniques you use matter just as much as the products. Here are some of our favorite methods to ensure a perfect finish:

Wipe in the direction of the grain

Brushed stainless steel has a ‘grain’, or a direction that the texture runs in. Make sure you wipe in the direction of the grain to avoid streaks. 

Dry quickly

When wiping your fridge, make sure you have a dry microfiber cloth on hand as well as the one you’re using with the cleaning products. This means you can instantly dry the surface so that the water and cleaning product don’t evaporate. Doing this lets you avoid spots and streaks. 

Buff the surface

If you’ve finished cleaning and still see some streaks, it’s time for buffing. A dry, clean microfiber cloth and some elbow grease is all you need. Just thoroughly buff the entire surface in the direction of the grain until the streaks are gone. 

Less is more

For stainless steel, less definitely is more when it comes to products. Avoid streaks and spots caused by product residue by using everything sparingly.

Clean regularly

If you do a regular wipe and buff of your stainless steel appliances, they’re a lot easier to maintain. A daily wipe and buff means you can avoid using any products except for water, reducing the chance of streaks appearing. 

Dealing With Stubborn Stains

If you’ve got stubborn grime on any of your stainless steel appliances, it may take a little more than vinegar and microfiber cloth to remove. Here are our top tips that remove stubborn stains without damage:

Localized scrubbing

Using a microfiber cloth, apply firm pressure to the stain to lift it from the stainless steel. 

Soften the grime

Put a cloth soaked in a mild detergent and water solution over the stain, and leave it in place for a few minutes. This will soften and loosen the stain, allowing it to be easily wiped away. 

Use a soft brush

For small crevices and hard-to-reach areas, use a soft toothbrush to remove built-up debris. 

Try some rubbing alcohol

Rubbing alcohol removes and dissolves grime, and evaporates quickly to reduce the likelihood of streaks. Just remember to use it sparingly and buff thoroughly after use. 

Avoiding Scratches and Damage

Stainless steel is hardy and durable, but it can be scratched and damaged. The most important thing to remember is to avoid anything abrasive or rough when cleaning your stainless steel appliances. While it can be tempting to use a scourer or harsh chemicals on stubborn stains, these can scratch and permanently damage the surface. Harsh chemicals can even discolor the stainless steel, leading to permanent marks that no amount of cleaning or buffing will fix.

Keeping Your Appliances Clean

When it comes to avoiding streaks long term, regular maintenance is key. It may feel daunting to clean your appliances every day, but in reality, doing so will save you a lot of time and effort in the long run. Wipe the appliances down once a day with a damp microfiber cloth, then quickly buff them dry to avoid stains. A weekly polish prevents stains like fingerprints from sticking to your appliances, particularly if you incorporate a small amount of baby oil or olive oil as a polish.


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