The Best Stainless Steel Cleaners of 2022

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

By Timothy Dale and Debbie Wolfe | Updated Jan 27, 2022 11:34 AM

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The Best Stainless Steel Cleaner Options

Photo: Debbie Wolfe

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, and some are developed to work on particular items, such as appliances, cookware, and grills. There are also different formulations and application types to choose from. We tested all the top picks based on strict rubics that included how well they cleaned and removed fingerprints, ease of use, and scent. 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 Stainless Steel Cleaner Kit
  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 Stainless Steel Cleaning Spray
  5. BEST FOR COOKWARE: Bar Keepers Friend Superior Cookware Cleanser
  6. BEST FOR GRILLS: CLR Spot-Free Stainless Steel, Streak-Free
  7. BEST FINGERPRINT-RESISTANT: Weiman Stainless Steel Cleaner & Polish
  8. BEST FOR SINKS: Hope’s Perfect Sink Cleaner and Polish
  9. HONORABLE MENTION: Magic Stainless Steel Cleaner

ALSO TESTED:

The Best Stainless Steel Cleaner Options

Photo: Debbie Wolfe

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, sprays and aerosols, and wipes.

  • 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 serves 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 way 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.
The Best Stainless Steel Cleaner Options

Photo: Debbie Wolfe

Our Top Picks

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

Best Overall

The Best Stainless Steel Cleaner Option: Therapy Stainless Steel Cleaner Kit
Photo: amazon.com

If your stainless steel surfaces seem to attract greasy marks the moment after you clean them, check out this product. Therapy 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.

We tested this product on various stainless steel appliances and sinks. Overall it performed well, effectively removing fingerprints, grease, and grime while leaving behind a streak-free surface. The cleaner’s lavender scent smells refreshing. However, it’s a light-duty cleaner that had trouble cleaning off cooked-on food. Therapy Stainless Cleaner is best suited for daily cleaning tasks but not heavy-duty cleaning.

Product Specs

  • Form: Spray
  • Surface type: Multisurface
  • Cleaner or polish: Both

Pros

  • Smells great
  • All-natural ingredients
  • Comes with a microfiber cloth

Cons

Not suited for cleaning baked-on or cooked-on debris

Get Therapy Stainless Steel Cleaner at Walmart, Lowe’s, or on Amazon.

Best Bang For the Buck

Best Stainless Steel Cleaner Options: TriNova Premium Stainless Steel Cleaner and Polish
Photo: amazon.com

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.

This stainless steel cleaner is very light-duty. It cleans fingerprints, water spots, and minor debris easily. However, it wasn’t effective at lifting cooked-on splatter without a fair amount of elbow grease. We liked the way it smelled, and a little spritz covered a lot of territory. Overall, we liked how the TriNova cleaner performed with daily cleaning tasks.

Product Specs

  • Form: Spray
  • Surface type: Multisurface
  • Cleaner or polish: Both

Pros

  • Refreshing scent
  • Comes with a microfiber cloth
  • A little goes a long way

Cons

  • Not suited for cleaning baked-on or cooked-on debris.

Get TriNova Premium Stainless Steel Cleaner and Polish at Walmart or on Amazon.

Best Cleaning Wipes

Best Stainless Steel Cleaner Options: Weiman Stainless Steel Cleaner Wipes
Photo: amazon.com

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.

We do like the convenience of the wipes but found that the excess product on them was way more than necessary for cleaning small areas. Although it did a great job removing grease, fingerprints, and cooked-on debris, we did need to buff the surface with a microfiber towel to remove excess cleaner and streaks.

Product Specs

  • Form: Wipes
  • Surface type: Multisurface
  • Cleaner or polish: Both

Pros

  • Convenient packaging
  • Good for tight spaces and quick cleanups
  • Disposable
  • Removes fingerprints and smudges

Cons

  • Not steak-free
  • Requires buffing

Get Weiman Stainless Steel Cleaner Wipes on Amazon, at Walmart, or at Target.

Best For Appliances

Best Stainless Steel Cleaner Options: Affresh W11042467 Stainless Steel Cleaner
Photo: amazon.com

Durable, impact-resistant stainless steel is a popular material for kitchen appliances, and you can keep it looking its best with Affresh Stainless Steel Cleaning Spray. 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.

We found that Affresh’s cleaner was perfect for removing fingerprints and light soils on stainless steel surfaces. It was easy to apply and remove while leaving a streak-free, clean finish. We also found that it resisted fingerprints moderately well, although it is not intended to be a polish. However, we noticed that the stainless steel cleaner left surfaces looking a tad darker.

Product Specs

  • Form: Aerosol
  • Surface type: Multisurface
  • Cleaner or polish: Cleaner

Pros

  • Wipes off easily
  • Leaves streak-free finish
  • Removes fingerprints and smudges well

Cons

  • Slightly darkens stainless steel

Get Affresh Stainless Steel Cleaner at The Home Depot, at Walmart, or on Amazon.

Best for Cookware

The Best Stainless Steel Cleaner Option: Bar Keepers Friend Superior Cookware Cleanser
Photo: amazon.com

Bar Keeper’s Friend is a multipurpose cleanser that will scrub away residue on various hard surfaces. It works on ceramic, glass, and all types of metal cookware, including hard-anodized aluminum. Moreover, the natural powder cleanser is safe to use on porcelain tiles in the bathroom, on bathtubs, and even on tire rims.

We tested the cleanser on aluminum and stainless steel cookware. It easily removed grease and rust stains with a soft sponge. For the cooked-on food and stains, we did have to make a paste with the cleanser and use a nylon brush. It took a bit of elbow grease to scrub off the most stubborn stains, but they eventually came off. It also cleans soap scum off bathroom tiles and porcelain tubs with ease. However, the cleanser is abrasive and not meant for soft surfaces.

Product Specs

  • Form: Powder
  • Surface type: Multisurface
  • Cleaner or polish: Cleaner

Pros

  • Cleans multiple metal types and other hard surfaces
  • Removes tough, cooked-on stains
  • Made with natural ingredients

Cons

  • May etch soft surfaces

Get Bar Keeper’s Friend Superior Cookware Cleanser on Amazon or at Bed Bath & Beyond.

Best For Grills

Best Stainless Steel Cleaner Options: CLR Spotless Stainless Steel
Photo: amazon.com

Grilling may produce delicious fare, but it can be a greasy business. CLR Spot-Free 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.

In testing, we found that the product performed exceptionally well. It easily removed grease and grime, leaving behind a streak-free finish. However, the product did not easily remove cooked-on debris. We tried several applications of the cleaner, allowing it to sit on the surface for a few minutes to penetrate the cooked-on grime. It took off some, but not all. Overall, we think it’s still an excellent product to use after grilling to clean up the majority of greasy spatter.

Product Specs

  • Form: Aerosol
  • Surface type: Multisurface
  • Cleaner or polish: Cleaner

Pros

  • Removed dirt, grease, and grime well
  • Leaves behind very little residue
  • Very easy to apply

Cons

  • Does not remove cooked-on debris

Get CLR Spot-Free Stainless Steel cleaner at Menards, Lowe’s, or on Amazon.

Best Fingerprint-Resistant

The Best Stainless Steel Cleaner Option: Weiman Stainless Steel Cleaner & Polish
Photo: walmart.com

Gleaming stainless steel appliances make your kitchen look brighter and cleaner. Weiman Stainless Steel Cleaner & Polish removes dirt and grime and leaves behind a highly fingerprint-resistant surface. The product is easy to apply and easily wipes away, leaving a streak-free finish. It works on all metal surfaces.

We tested on stainless steel appliances and on sheet metal surfaces. The product removed fingerprints, watermarks, and minor grime in both instances. Overall, we found that the product performed remarkably well. Best of all, it did leave behind a fingerprint-resistant finish on all the metal surfaces we tested it on. It does have a strong powdery-talc scent that does linger. We did not find the smell unpleasant, but those sensitive to strong scents may find it bothersome.

Product Specs

  • Form: Spray
  • Surface type: Multisurface
  • Cleaner or polish: Both

Pros

  • Supreme fingerprint resistance
  • Easy to apply
  • Leaves a streak-free finish

Con

  • Strong talc scent

Get Weiman Stainless Steel Cleaner & Polish at Lowe’s, on Amazon, or at Walmart.

Best for Sinks

The Best Stainless Steel Cleaner Option: Hope's Perfect Sink Cleaner and Polish
Photo: amazon.com

Hope’s Perfect Sink Cleaner and Polish removes hard-water spots, grime, and rust from stainless steel sinks. It leaves an invisible water-repellent barrier, making the stainless steel more resistant to streaks and spots after cleaning. Although it’s a cream cleaner and polish, it’s not recommended for mirror finishes or any surfaces that are sensitive to abrasion.

In testing, Hope’s Perfect Sink Cleaner and Polish did an excellent job of removing hard-water spots and rust stains from stainless steel sinks. It makes the stainless steel brighter and removes light scratches. However, you do have to rinse the surface with soapy water afterward. The cleaner left a water-repellent finish that was remarkably fingerprint resistant. We also liked that the product can clean stainless steel and cast-iron cookware.

Product Specs

  • Form: Cream
  • Surface type: Sinks and cookware
  • Cleaner or polish: Both

Pros

  • Removes stubborn stains
  • Highly fingerprint resistant
  • Can use on cast iron

Cons

  • Not suitable for mirror finishes

Get Hope’s Perfect Sink Cleaner and Polish on Amazon, at The Home Depot, or at Walmart.

Honorable Mention

The Best Stainless Steel Cleaner Option: Magic Stainless Steel Cleaner
Photo: amazon.com

Magic Stainless Steel Cleaner is an affordable, all-purpose cleaner that removes dirt and oil on stainless steel, aluminum, and chrome surfaces. It’s also a polish, and the product ​​leaves a transparent, protective coating to help repel dirt, dust, fingerprints, and water.

In testing, Magic Stainless Steel Cleaner did a great job of getting rid of greasy smudges and debris from appliances and stovetops. It did a good job hiding fingerprints and left minimal residue on the surface. It did, however, leave our stainless steel surfaces looking slightly darker. Overall, it’s an effective cleaner that works best on darker metal surfaces.

Product Specs

  • Form: Aerosol
  • Surface type: Multisurface
  • Cleaner or polish: Both

Pros

  • Easily removed dirt and grime
  • Leaves no residue
  • Easy to apply and remove

Cons

  • Slightly darkens stainless steel

Get Magic Stainless Steel Cleaner at Walmart, Lowe’s, or on Amazon.

Also Tested

We also tested the All-Clad Cookware Cleaner and Polish. We found that it did a moderate job cleaning cooked-on grime on stainless steel pots and pans. The powder is very fine, and it was hard to control the flow of the powder from the opening. Also, the product is recommended for use only on stainless and aluminum cookware. We felt that Bar Keeper’s Friend is a better pick for cookware because it can be used on all types of cookware. It’s also made from natural material and is less expensive per ounce.

Our Verdict

We recommend the Therapy Stainless Steel Cleaner Kit or TriNova Premium Stainless Steel Cleaner and Polish to cover most of your stainless steel cleaning and polishing needs. Therapy smells fantastic and cleans and polishes stainless steel surfaces while polishing. Budget-conscious shoppers will love the TriNova Premium abrasive- and chemical-free formula to gently clean and polish stainless steel appliances.

How We Tested the Best Stainless Steel Cleaners

We evaluated the stainless steel cleaners and polish based on their scent, how well they cleaned and polished recommended surfaces, and ease of application. We cleaned all surfaces recommended by each product and assessed how well it removed dirt, grease, and grime. We also evaluated how well the product resisted fingerprints and whether it darkened the surface after cleaning.

Next, we determined how easy it was to apply and remove the product and whether it left behind any residue. As for the scent, most of the cleaners had minimal fragrance. However, some left behind a refreshing, clean scent.

FAQs 

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 residue. 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 Stainless Steel Cleaning Spray.

Q. What is a natural cleaner for stainless steel?

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