Clean Stainless Steel (Even Those Dark Water Stains!)

All that silver looks so sleek and professional -- except for the water-stains and fingerprints, right? Take care of them with our 7 expert tips for cleaning stainless steel.

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  1. Wipe Away Water Spots -- Wet a thick, clean towel with distilled white vinegar that has been brought to a boil. "Lay the vinegar-soaked towel on the water spot and wait 30 minutes," says Mary Findley of GoClean.com, a former pro cleaner and author of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Green Cleaning. Sprinkle with baking soda or Cameo -- Findley's polish of choice. Scrub, then wipe clean and dry.
  2. Go with the Grain -- Stainless steel has a grain, like wood. Always wipe with it to loosen and remove all the dirt from those little recesses. It makes a difference!
  3. Dissolve Fingerprints -- A little rubbing alcohol* on a soft cloth should zap the oily residue and grime left by fingerprints.
  4. Serious Shine -- Make your stainless steel extra shiny with a few drops of lemon oil*. "Just put a small amount on a cloth and rub it into the surface," says Leslie Reichert, aka The Cleaning Coach
  5. Make it a Habit -- Commit to daily wipe downs with a clean, soft cloth and hot water, plus weekly cleanings with an oil-based stainless-steel cleaner and polish. "Even cleaning every other week will cause buildup issues in the grains of stainless steel that could take a bit more elbow grease to clean," Findley says. 
  6. Stainless Steel No-Nos -- Do not use abrasive cleaners or sponges when cleaning stainless steel, as they can permanently scratch it. Skip chlorine-based cleaners, too.
  7. If the Spot is Stubborn -- Reichert swears by a natural product made specifically for metals called Shadazzle, especially for removing stainless-steel oxidation or rust. "It leaves stainless looking perfect," she says. For serious blemishes, invest in a stainless-steel scratch-removal kit, which typically combines special polishes and fine-grade sandpaper to remove the problem.

* Rubbing alcohol and essential oils are flammable, don't use them on your oven or other appliances that conduct extreme heat.

Keep the inside as clean as the outside

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