Homeowners choose stainless-steel refrigerators, stoves, ovens and dishwashers to create a sleek and modern look in the kitchen. stainless-steel appliances are a popular choice among homeowners and home decorators. New and shiny stainless-steel appliances add beauty to the kitchen. After use and especially with kids in the house, greasy fingerprints are the new normal and severely detract from the beauty of the stainless-steel. Constant removal and endless cleaning many times leaves the fingerprints exactly where they were before you started cleaning.   

Simply wiping the surface of a stainless-steel appliance does nothing to remove the fingerprints. Regardless of how hard you rub at smudges, fingerprints and handprints, they defiantly remain firmly in place. It seems as if the fingerprints become part of the stainless-steel grain. In the stores and showrooms, you never see any fingerprints or smudges on the appliances, sinks or countertops. It’s only when you get them at home and installed that you begin to notice every little mark. Fingerprints and smudges stand out vividly against the bright and shiny background of stainless-steel. Many times the fingerprints and handprints look dull and a strange brown color, leading you to believe the appliance’s surface is dirty or grimy, but the culprit is really the natural oils in our skin that leaves the telltale marks.

Getting Rid of Greasy Fingerprints on stainless-steel

Fill a small bucket with warm water and a squirt of  grease fighting dish washing soap. Do not use dishwasher detergent as it is much too harsh and may damage the stainless-steel finish.

Submerge a microfiber or other soft lint free cleaning cloth into the bucket of soapy water. Do not use stiff rags or rags that have any type of paint, stain or chemical residue because these
can all harm the stainless-steel surface.

Wash the stainless-steel appliance surface to remove the oils left behind by fingers and hands. Some fingerprints may take some extra work and depending on the type of stainless-steel you have, you may be unsuccessful removing the fingerprints and smudges grease fighting dish detergent.

Use a new lint-free cleaning cloth dipped in warm water to wipe the surface a second and third time. Microfiber cloths work well when cleaning appliances. They offer a soft and yielding cleaning surface and will not damage the stainless-steel. Rinse the cleaning cloth and squeeze out all of the excess water out to remove the soap residue from the stainless-steel surface. You ay have to rinse the rag several times to remove any excess soap or soapy residue. Always wipe stainless-steel in the direction of the grain to prevent very visible water streaks. If you live in an area where hard water is a problem, use distilled water rather than tap water to clean your appliances. Do not use this cleaning method if you have hard water. The hard water will leave a filmy mask over the appliances and can leave white crusty hard water deposits.

Fight Grease on stainless-steel with Ammonia

Add equal amounts of non sudsing household ammonia and distilled water to a spray bottle. Using distilled water is effective in areas that have a lot of minerals in the water to avoid lime scale buildup and hard water stains. Hard water stains are more difficult to remove than fingerprints and smudges.

Mist the cleaner on the stainless-steel surface. Make sure you thoroughly wet the stainless-steel appliance for best results.

Wipe the appliance with a soft, lint free rag while following the direction of the stainless-steel grain to remove both the fingerprints and cleaner residue. Buff the stainless-steel surface to a bright shine with a microfiber cloth or well worn cotton cloth.

 Window Cleaner Removes Smudges From stainless-steel

Spray a commercially available window cleaner such as Windex on fingerprints and smudges.

Wipe the smudges and fingerprints away with a microfiber cloth, well worn flannel rag or a lint-free paper towel.

Always read the appliance manufacturer’s instructions to ensure the window cleaner is safe for the finish. Some stainless-steel surfaces can withstand commercially available window cleaners while other cannot.

Commercially Available stainless-steel Cleaners

Commercially available stainless-steel cleaners such as Cerama Bryte or Magic do a great job on cleaning smudges, fingerprints and greasy residue from appliances. Commercially available cleaners require much less elbow grease and time to reveal a bright and sparkling finish on the stainless-steel appliance. stainless-steel cleaners also work well for stainless-steel sinks and countertops. Read the appliance manufacturer’s directions to find out which stainless-steel cleaning products have been recommended for your particular appliance. Not all stainless-steel appliances are the same – always check for the manufacturer recommended products before purchasing and using a product.

Protect You Appliances from Fingerprints
As with many problems and issues, prevention is always better than remediation and cleaning. Preventing fingerprints and smudges is no different, preventing them is easy.
Pick any one of the following smudge, fingerprint or handprint protection methods:

  • Wipe a very light coat of mineral oil to the stainless-steel appliance surface with a soft chamois cloth.
  • Spread a light coat of baby oil over the surface.
  • Apply a light layer of WD-40.
  • Wipe on a light layer of Olive Oil.

If you decide to use any of these methods, thoroughly wash the appliance and clean the stainless-steel surface once per week to remove the oil because all of these types of oil will also attract dirt and dust, leaving behind a grimy surface.

Avoid Using All of the Following on stainless-steel Appliances:

  • Scouring powder
  • Steel or bronze wool
  • Acid based cleaners
  • Lemon – avoid fresh, concentrated and lemon based organic cleaners
  • Vinegar
  • Bathroom cleansers

These products will scratch and create etching on stainless-steel surfaces.

Keep your stainless-steel appliances looking beautiful and new by following a regular cleaning routine. stainless-steel appliances look great in the store, but kids can change the look at home quickly.