The Best Homemade Stainless Steel Cleaner

How to Clean Your Stainless Steel without Expensive Cleaning Products

Stainless Steel Refrigerator
Stainless Steel Refrigerator. Laurie & Charles/UpperCut Images/Getty Images

Fed up with all the fingerprints on your stainless steel appliances? Skip the pricey stainless steel cleaners, and grab a bottle of vinegar from your pantry instead. It's all you need to keep your appliances looking good.

What You Need:

  • White vinegar
  • An empty spray bottle
  • A cleaning cloth or paper towels

How to Use Your Stainless Steel Cleaner

Fill a spray bottle with undiluted white vinegar. Then, spray it on all of your stainless steel surfaces, and wipe them dry with a soft cleaning cloth or paper towel.

It's best to wipe with the direction of the grain and to use a gentle touch. The vinegar shouldn't have any trouble cutting through the grease and grime, so save your elbow grease for another job.

Once you're satisfied that all of the fingerprints and grime have been removed, go over the surface again with a water-dampened cloth. You can use a second spray bottle filled with water, if you prefer. This extra step is to ensure that the acid in the vinegar has been removed, so there's no chance of it interacting with the metal over time. Stainless steel is naturally corrosion-resistant, so this is really just an added precaution.

Vinegar may not smell as nice as some commercial cleaners, but don't worry: that scent won't stay around for long.

Why Vinegar Works on Stainless Steel

Vinegar contains a mild acid, called acetic acid.  It cuts through the oil left behind by fingers, rather than smearing it around like a lot of other cleaners.

Benefits of Cleaning with Vinegar

  • Inexpensive
  • No harsh chemicals
  • Effective sanitizer
  • Effective grease cutter
  • Non-abrasive
  • You know what vinegar is, so you can feel good about using it around children, food and pets

Warnings and Precautions

  • Don't reuse empty cleaner bottles. Buy a new bottle to use for your vinegar spray. Vinegar is an acid, and you do not want to mix it with unknown chemicals from other products.
  • Label the spray bottle so everyone in your household knows what's inside
  • As with any cleaner, you should avoid all contact with the eyes and prolonged contact with the skin. While vinegar is used in food, we don't generally bathe in it or get it in the eyes.
  • Keep out of the reach of children. Don't tempt the little ones to use spray bottles. While vinegar may not cause a hazardous condition, the next spray bottle they play with might contain something nastier.
  • Always test cleaners (homemade or store-bought) on a small, inconspicuous area before using them widely.

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