The $2 Stainless Steel Cleaning Trick Hiding in Your Pantry

published Dec 27, 2023
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a hand wiping down a stainless steel refrigerator
Credit: Joe Lingeman

I’m always looking for new ways to clean my home quickly. In fact, the main reason I’m on TikTok is to have cleaning hack videos right at my fingertips! My favorite tricks save me time and money, like this stainless steel cleaning hack that only requires two ingredients — both found in your pantry. 

I clean my stainless steel appliances regularly (once or twice a month) using an effective natural polish with a delightful lavender scent, but it’s a bit of a splurge at $19.95 for a 16-ounce bottle that includes a microfiber cloth. My latest bottle lasted me about eight months, and it ran out as I was preparing to clean, so I searched #Cleantok for alternatives. I was intrigued by this tip with 6.8 million views from @byjaded, which requires equal parts olive oil and vinegar. Olive oil has been touted as a cleaning agent for stainless steel, acting as a protective coating against oily fingertips, but I was still skeptical about a white vinegar-olive oil mixture some commenters dubbed the “salad dressing cleaner.” 

Credit: L. Daniela Alvarez

Because I had both of these ingredients on hand, though, I tried the cleaning method on my refrigerator, dishwasher, and oven, where the stainless steel looked smudgy and needed some shine. I poured 1/3 cup of olive oil and 1/3 cup of white vinegar into the empty bottle of my previous cleaner (which I first washed out with a little bit of soapy water) and vigorously shook the mixture. I started with this small amount in case I wasn’t a fan of how the spray worked. Following the steps in the TikTok, I sprayed this “salad dressing cleaner” directly onto my appliances and wiped it off with a microfiber cloth in the same direction as the grain. 

I immediately saw a difference between the clean and dirty surfaces. The smudges vanished, and every wipe added a sparkling shine, leaving barely any streaks. I used the entirety of my mixture on all three of my stainless steel appliances by spraying and wiping them twice each (four sprays on each appliance). 

Credit: L. Daniela Alvarez
Credit: L. Daniela Alvarez

The olive oil and vinegar mixture cleaned my appliances just as well as my go-to spray. The main difference was the subtle scent of vinegar and olive oil, which lingered for about an hour, but it didn’t bother me. If that might turn you off, though, you can add an essential oil such as lemon oil to help lift grease and give off a pleasant scent.

I used Graza “Sizzle” Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Heinz Distilled White Vinegar, both of which I already had in my pantry. At price per ounce for the olive oil and vinegar, it cost $1.87 for the amount I used (about 5.34 ounces). My original cleaner costs about $6.68 for 5.34 ounces, but it also comes with a microfiber cloth. Based on initial comparisons, it seems my pricier cleaner might last me longer, but I’d have to more regularly use the TikTok stainless steel cleaner for a true cost comparison. 

Whenever I don’t have a specific product for my stainless steel appliances in the house, I’m going to keep using this hack until it stops giving me the results I want or I’m too lazy to make the mixture. It’s a convenient and effective option to get your stainless steel appliances sparkling.

This post originally appeared on The Kitchn. See it there: The $2 Stainless Steel Cleaning Trick Hiding in Your Pantry