How to Polish Stainless Steel With Household Items

It’s likely you have many items in your home made from stainless steel, including kitchen appliances like a sink, taps, bread bin, refrigerator, oven, stove, microwave, toaster, blender, dishwasher, or at minimum your cooking utensils and cutlery.

Naturally these are well handled with use. While the ubiquitous material is renowned for its robustness and aesthetic appeal, over time it can look dull and lose its original lustre. But thanks to direction from, here is a pro guide on how to polish stainless steel to bring it back to life.

Understanding the Basics of Stainless Steel

Understanding the basics of stainless steel, an iron-based alloy known for its heat and corrosion resistance, is crucial in learning how to effectively polish this durable and versatile material. This understanding extends to the causes and effects of corrosion, the material’s innate heat resistance, and its esteemed durability.

Regular maintenance of this metal alloy is crucial to preserve its aesthetic appeal and extend its lifespan. The benefits of regular maintenance include enhancing surface quality, improving corrosion resistance, and removing invisible contaminants.

Regular upkeep ensures the longevity of stainless steel and maintains its aesthetics in various applications. Several finishing options exist, from sanding for a smooth surface to machine polishing techniques. Different finishing options cater to diverse aesthetic preferences and practical needs.

stainless steel cooker

Step-by-Step Guide to Polishing Stainless Steel

Clean the item

Before initiating the polishing process, it is imperative to meticulously clean the metal of all dirt in warming soapy water. Once dry, use a fibre cloth to remove any dust particles on the surface to ensure optimal results.

Polishing with Vinegar

Acidic vinegar is an effective and economical cleaning agent for maintaining the lustre of metallic surfaces. White or Cider vinegar is best. As a natural cleaning agent, vinegar offers numerous benefits, including removing stains and adding shine. When compared to olive oil, vinegar is less likely to leave residue, making it more desirable for surface preparation.

Buffing techniques and polishing compounds can be used in conjunction with vinegar to achieve a mirror-like finish. For lighter cleaning tasks, a vinegar dilution might suffice. However, for more stubborn stains, undiluted vinegar should be used. Despite the potency of commercial polishes, vinegar holds its own thanks to its natural acidity, effectively restoring the shine to metallic surfaces.

The process is pretty straight forward:

  1. Spray the vinegar on, or dab on with a cloth to give good coverage.
  2. Wipe with a blue jaycloth or paper towel, following the direction of the grain if possible.
  3. Use a clean microfibre cloth for a final polish using steady pressure.

Polishing with Olive Oil

Olive oil is another home DIY stainless steel care method which is best used on pots and pans rather than the fridge door as it can leave a greasy layer.

Olive oil not only imparts a shine but also forms a protective barrier, preserving the aesthetic appeal of stainless steel. The technique involves applying a thin layer of oil, followed by a thorough buffing.

This process differs from traditional polishing techniques, focusing on maintaining shine rather than removing imperfections. Despite being a natural cleaning agent, olive oil can deliver long-lasting results.

Again, it’s a pretty intuitive step by step method:

  1. Either use a spray bottle or pour a dab over a cloth.
  2. Coat the stainless steel evenly with Olive oil.
  3. Polish in a circular motion to rub the oil into the grain.
  4. Use a clean cloth to wipe off all oil until it no longer feels oily to the touch.

Polishing with Specialised Cleaners

Sometimes a job calls for specialised cleaners, often designed with abrasives, serve as a superior option for maintaining the aesthetic and functional qualities of metallic surfaces. The benefits of using specialized cleaners include targeted action on stains, dirt, and grime, preserving the integrity of the stainless steel.

When choosing the right cleaner, it is advisable to consider the nature of the metallic surface and the severity of the tarnish. Best techniques for using specialized cleaners involve applying the cleaner in the direction of the grain of the steel, ensuring thorough coverage.

Comparing vinegar and olive oil for stainless steel polishing, specialized cleaners tend to deliver more consistent results. Nevertheless, vinegar, a natural cleaning agent, and olive oil, a sustainable polishing option, offer eco-friendly alternatives.


In conclusion, maintaining the aesthetic and durability of stainless steel necessitates regular polishing. This process involves cleaning, buffing, and utilizing various techniques to reduce scratches and imperfections.

Different natural and commercial products can be used to achieve desired outcomes. Avoiding common polishing mistakes further ensures the longevity and quality of the material.

Ultimately, polishing not only enhances the visual appeal of stainless steel but also improves its resistance to corrosion.