How to Make Stainless Steel Cleaner

By Nick Cebollero

Stainless steel attracts dirt, grime, and fingerprints easily, so regular cleaning is necessary to maintain its shine. We’ve collected three stainless steel cleaners you can easily make at home and show you how to clean stainless steel.

What to know before you clean stainless steel

  • Stainless steel, like wood, has grain. For optimal shine, clean with—not against—the grain. Cleaning against the grain can embed cleaner residue in the surface, permanently reducing its brilliance.
  • You’ll need a non-abrasive household cleaning rag to apply these solutions. For best results, use a microfiber cloth, which will allow you to best work the solution into the grain of the steel without clogging. Don’t use steel wool or other rough materials, which will leave scratches.

1. White vinegar and oil

Use this food- and child-safe method for cooking utensils, food prep surfaces, or bowls. The acidity of the vinegar will cut through grease and dirt, and the oil will return the steel’s shine.


  • White vinegar
  • Mineral or olive oil
  • 2 clean, non-abrasive rags or cloths
  • Paper towels
  1. Drip a small amount of white vinegar on a clean rag.
  2. Use a rag or cloth to wipe the vinegar in the direction of the grain.
  3. Rinse the vinegar off with clean tap water and wipe with a clean, dry cloth or paper towel.
  4. Use a rag to polish in a few drops of mineral oil or olive oil.

2. Dish soap and oil

This is another cleaning solution perfect for food prep surfaces or stainless steel pieces that children may touch. The dish soap acts as a surfactant, which suspends dirt particles above the surface, allowing them to be easily removed.


  • Dish soap
  • Baby oil, mineral oil, or olive oil
  • 2 clean, non-abrasive rags or cloths
  • Paper towels
  1. Dampen your cloth slightly and use it to apply a generous amount of dish soap to the surface, wiping in the direction of the stainless steel grain.
  2. Rinse the surface with clean tap water and dry with a clean, non-abrasive cloth or paper towels.
  3. Use a few drops of baby oil (olive or mineral oil will also do the trick) to bring out the steel’s shine.

3. WD-40

Because WD-40 is petroleum based, this solution is best for stainless steel tools or surfaces—like workbenches and garage storage cabinets—not used for food prep or near children. The spray will provide a shiny coat of protection against future blemishes.


  • WD-40
  • A clean, non-abrasive rag or cloth

Best store-bought stainless steel cleaners

If you’re interested in purchasing a stainless steel cleaner, here are a few we recommend:

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