Organize & Clean

I Tried My Grandmother’s Technique for Cleaning Stainless Steel & I’m Never Using Anything Else

published Mar 14, 2023
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I am both lucky and unlucky in the fact that I come from a long line of housekeepers. It comes in handy when I get an impossible stain and have about 12 people I can call to get a miracle hack to solve the problem: Douse it with peroxide! Just add some salt and ice! Put a little pickle juice on it! The situation is less fortunate when one of these women — mainly my mom — comes to my house and asks why there is a speck on the windowsill that she can see from 15 paces away. But overall, the perks outweigh the grievances every time, and I am now well-stocked with old-school tips on how to clean smarter and not harder. Today, I’m sharing.

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Cleaning stainless steel can be a chore.

One of my all-time favorite cleaning shortcuts is the one passed down from my grandmother on how to tackle stainless steel. The only way to go is to use olive oil, something I learned the hard way.

Credit: Joe Lingeman

I was at my wit’s end for a long time with my stainless steel appliances. I’d wash them carefully each week with a vinegar spray, and then would try to buff out the streaks with a microfiber cloth. But there would always be lines. I tried everything: glass cleaner; a drop of dish soap on a microfiber cloth; distilled white vinegar buffed in the direction of the grain. And nothing.

Olive oil is an easy way to keep your stainless steel smudge-free.

I was about to buy stainless steel wipes and call it a day, when my grandma intervened before I added yet another expense to my shopping list. “Just use olive oil,” she said with a shrug.

She explained that once you wipe down your appliances, simply dribble some olive oil onto a cloth, and wipe it across the steel. All the streaks, smudges, and watermarks instantly disappear, with minimal buffing required. That’s because the oil leaves a protective film over the steel, protecting it from smudges. You’re left with a lovely sheen – and you won’t have to buy any extra cleaning products! It’s a win-win.

How To Clean Stainless Steel

Have you always struggled with polishing your own stainless steel items? Try this tip and see if it solves your problem.

This is an updated version of an article first published in 2022.