The Best Stainless Steel Cleaners for the Home

Keep your stainless steel appliances, cookware, and grill looking great with minimal effort by using the best stainless steel cleaner.

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Best Stainless Steel Cleaner Options

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Stainless steel offers an attractive, durable surface that is resistant to both water damage and rust. But it can quickly accumulate grime, oil, fingerprints, and water spots that some cleaners can’t quite banish without leaving messy streaks behind. What’s more, ammonia and bleach, common in some all-purpose cleaners, can damage stainless steel. To clean, polish, and remove residue without harming the finish, use a product specially formulated for stainless steel.

There’s a variety of stainless steel cleaners on the market, some developed to work on particular items, such as appliances, cookware, and grills. There are also different formulations and application types to choose from. Use this guide to learn how to pick the right product and why the following are considered among the best stainless steel cleaners available.

  1. BEST OVERALL: Therapy Premium Stainless Steel Cleaner & Polish
  2. BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: TriNova Premium Stainless Steel Cleaner and Polish
  3. BEST CLEANING WIPES: Weiman Stainless Steel Cleaner Wipes
  4. BEST FOR APPLIANCES: Affresh W11042467 Stainless Steel Cleaner
  5. BEST FOR COOKWARE: All-Clad 00942 Cookware Cleaner and Polish
  6. BEST FOR GRILLS: CLR Spotless Stainless Steel, Streak-Free
Best Stainless Steel Cleaner Options

Photo: amazon.com

What to Look for When Choosing the Best Stainless Steel Cleaner 

Before you start shopping for a stainless steel cleaner, keep in mind these important factors and product characteristics.

Surface Type

It’s wise to consider surface type when choosing a stainless steel cleaner since what works best on your stainless steel grill might not be appropriate for your refrigerator. Something a bit abrasive may be required for that hardworking grill, but such a product could damage the finish of the fridge. When it comes to stainless steel cookware, which is regularly heated, cooled, and scrubbed, you might get it clean with an all-purpose product, but a targeted cleaner could really restore shine as well.

Form 

Stainless steel cleaners come in several forms, including powders, creams, wipes, sprays, and aerosols.

  • Powder stainless steel cleaners mix with water to become pastes. These are ideal for cleaning stainless steel sinks and cookware, though they are more difficult to use on vertical surfaces like refrigerators or dishwashers.
  • Creams have a thick consistency designed to be scrubbed onto stainless steel and left to sit for several minutes. When wiped away, they typically reveal a polished shine that makes appliances look great.
  • Sprays and aerosols are the most common type of stainless steel appliance cleaner because they’re easy to use. Simply spray onto the surface following the manufacturer’s directions, then wipe with a microfiber cloth.
  • Wipes are portable and easy to use, but you’ll go through them quickly, which can make them more expensive than the other forms of stainless steel cleaner. Consider keeping wipes on hand when you’ve got to clean surfaces quickly—for instance, when you don’t get much notice that company is due to arrive—especially if you have hard water that causes stubborn water spots.

Natural vs. Chemical Ingredients

With the wide range of stainless steel cleaners available, you can find both eco-conscious green cleaners as well as tough and traditional products that rely on chemical ingredients.

  • Natural stainless steel cleaners may include coconut oil, lavender, soybean oil, or canola oil. These cleaners tend to be less effective than commercial chemical cleaners on heavy-duty grime, oil, and stains, but folks who favor them find they work just fine for regular cleaning around the house.
  • Chemical stainless steel cleaners may include ingredients like refined mineral oil, hydrocarbon propellants, isoparaffinic hydrocarbons, acetic acid, methyl ester, or propane. These chemicals can cause eye and skin irritation, nausea, dizziness, and vomiting, while the flammable ingredients can also create a substantial fire risk if the product is not used correctly. Though more effective for heavy-duty cleaning, these cleaners may be too abrasive for stainless steel that serve an aesthetic purpose, such as the surface of your dishwasher or refrigerator. They typically emit a powerful odor as well—use in a properly ventilated area and wear personal protective equipment to avoid becoming dizzy, nauseous, or saddled with a headache.

Scent 

The smell of chemical cleaners can make people feel lightheaded or ill, but even natural cleaners can have an overpowering scent. This can be especially problematic in a small kitchen or bathroom, which is why it’s important to always properly ventilate the area and wear protective equipment when using a stainless steel cleaner. If you are very sensitive to smells, look for a scent-free cleaner, or choose one infused with essential oils for a milder scent.

Polish

Getting rid of dirt, dust, grime, oil, and other debris is a great place to start, but to restore a like-new appearance to appliances, use a stainless steel cleaner with an integrated polish. The polishing solution will impart a nice shine, minimize any minor scratches, and make the stainless steel resistant to fingerprint smudges and other oily residues.

Steer clear of polishes, however, when cleaning stainless steel cookware or a food-preparation area such as a countertop unless the polish is rated as food-grade. Polishes tend to include isobutane, ethanolamine, and white mineral oil, which is a distillate of petroleum that could be harmful if ingested.

Ease of Application

If you don’t want to misuse or struggle with a product, give some thought to a cleaner’s ease of use.

  • Wipes are the easiest option. Just pull a moistened wipe from the container and pass firmly against the surface, scrubbing if necessary, to remove dirt, dust, grime, oil, and stains.
  • Sprays and aerosols make cleaning stainless steel fairly quick and easy, as not only are they a breeze to apply, but formulas may be foamy, so they cling rather than run down a vertical surface. Simply spray as directed and scrub clean with a microfiber cloth; some products may even come with the microfiber cloth.
  • Creams and concentrates take a bit more time and effort because they have a thicker viscosity that needs to stay on the surface for a period of time in order to properly cut through difficult grease and grime. Use these for heavy-duty cleaning problems, like a greasy grill that hasn’t been cleaned in months.
  • Powders require mixing with water prior to use. While this can be pesky and time-consuming, this method is the most commonly used with cookware and other food-related stainless steel surfaces because the water dilutes the chemical cleaner and the cleaning process removes all potentially harmful residues, leaving only a clean surface. However, keep in mind that not all powder cleaners are approved for food-grade use.

Our Top Picks

Now that you are better informed about the features of stainless steel cleaners, check out the products below, all considered among the best on the market.

Best Overall

Best Stainless Steel Cleaner Options: Therapy Stainless Steel Cleaner & Polish
Photo: amazon.com

If your stainless steel surfaces seem to attract greasy marks the moment after you clean them, check out this product. Therapy Premium Stainless Steel Cleaner uses coconut oil to clean, shine, and help protect appliances, grills, and other stainless steel surfaces. The gentle formula is tough on grease, and the 16-ounce spray comes with a 14-square-inch microfiber cloth for ease of use. After cleaning, just buff the surface with a dry section of the cloth to bring out the shine.

Best Bang For the Buck

Best Stainless Steel Cleaner Options: TriNova Premium Stainless Steel Cleaner and Polish
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If you tend to use all-purpose cleaning products to save money, this well-priced targeted product may fit your budget while getting stainless steel sparkling clean. It’s a water-based cleaner that’s free of harsh chemicals and abrasives, yet it effectively removes grease, stains, and other oily buildup from stainless steel appliances, sinks, grills, and even tools. The 18-ounce spray comes with a 14-square-inch soft microfiber cloth suitable for imparting a streak-free shine to your polished appliances.

Best Cleaning Wipes

Best Stainless Steel Cleaner Options: Weiman Stainless Steel Cleaner Wipes
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For fast, fuss-free cleaning of stainless steel surfaces, you may come to rely on these Weiman wipes. The wipes easily pop out of the convenient canister, which can then be resealed to keep the wipes from drying out. You can use these wipes on any type of stainless steel surface thanks to a neutral pH balance that won’t damage softer finishes. Plus, the premoistened wipes are great at reaching tricky areas, like between the bars of your grill. They’re sold as a two-pack with 30 wipes per container.

Best For Appliances

Best Stainless Steel Cleaner Options: Affresh W11042467 Stainless Steel Cleaner
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Durable, impact-resistant stainless steel is a popular material for kitchen appliances, and you can keep it looking its best with Affresh Stainless Steel Cleaner. It comes in a 12-ounce aerosol can for minimal runoff on vertical surfaces, like those of your fridge, dishwasher, and oven. The nonabrasive formula rapidly cuts through dirt, grime, and oils, so a simple spray-and-wipe application gets the job done. And the shiny clean results are likely to last since the spray leaves a light protective polish to help prevent buildup.

Best For Cookware

Best Stainless Steel Cleaner Options: All-Clad 00942 Cookware Cleaner and Polish
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All-Clad is a well-known brand of quality cookware, so the company’s own stainless steel cleaner has a built-in trust factor. The environmentally safe cleaner contains natural minerals and other eco-friendly ingredients, and the powder formula, mixed with water into a paste, works well to remove dirt, grime, rust, grease, oil, and water stains from your pots and pans. It’s nonabrasive, so it’s suited to all types of stainless steel finishes (but do not use on copper, hard-anodized aluminum, or nonstick surfaces). The 12-ounce bottle is waterproof to keep moisture from ruining the powdered contents.

Best For Grills

Best Stainless Steel Cleaner Options: CLR Spotless Stainless Steel
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Grilling may produce delicious fare, but it can be a greasy business. CLR Spotless Stainless Steel Cleaner can get your grill so clean, it gleams in the sun. The 12-ounce aerosol spray canister dispenses voluminous foam that clings to vertical surfaces, avoiding drippy runoff. CLR is tough on grease as well as dirt, dust, grime, and water stains, and while it’s great for the grill, it can also be used on other stainless steel surfaces, such as kitchen appliances. It brings a streak-free shine and adds a protective layer that resists fingerprints and other oils.

FAQs About Stainless Steel Cleaners 

If you still have questions about stainless steel cleaners, keep reading for answers to some of the most commonly asked questions.

Q. What is the best way to clean stainless steel?

The best way to clean stainless steel is by using a stainless steel cleaner according to the manufacturer’s directions. This typically involves applying the cleaner directly to the surface or to a soft, microfiber cloth before wiping with the cloth to remove dirt, grime, oils, and other residues. Once the surface is clean, you can rinse it with a clean, damp cloth and then dry.

Q. What is the best cleaner for stainless steel appliances?

One of the best options for stainless steel appliances is the Affresh W11042467 Stainless Steel Cleaner.

Q. What is a natural cleaner for stainless steel?

A great natural cleaner for stainless steel is Therapy Premium Stainless Steel Cleaner & Polish, which is made of USDA Certified Biobased ingredients including filtered water, coconut oil, sorbitan monooleate, a lavender essential oil blend, acrylates copolymer, and methylisothiazolinone.