Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
Bottom Line
Pros
Cons
How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

38 Models Considered
7 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
432 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.

Buying guide for best stainless steel cleaners

Last Updated July 2019

If you have stainless steel appliances or tools in your kitchen or garage, you know how easily they collect stains, fingerprints, and grime. While a damp cloth can take off some residue, for tougher stains you’ll need a stainless steel cleaner.

Stainless steel cleaners vary in their ingredients and capabilities. Some are designed specifically for outdoor use, while others are gentle enough for indoor appliances and may even be capable of cleaning other surfaces like countertops and plastic. Most cleaners come in either liquid or powdered form, both of which vary in abrasiveness and consistency. If you have small children or pets in your home, you should avoid certain stainless steel cleaners.

There is no one stainless steel cleaner for every job – you should choose a cleaner based on your needs and appliances. Continue reading to learn more about the different types of stainless steel cleaners available. When you’re ready to buy, take a look at some of our favorites.

Mineral deposits from water are one of the primary culprits in stainless steel damage. Always thoroughly dry your stainless steel items to prevent mineral buildup.

Key considerations


Do you need a stainless steel cleaner?

Purchasing the right stainless steel cleaner means considering the job at hand. Do you have a single appliance in need of cleaning or several? The cleaner should fit the job and clean thoroughly without damaging your appliances or posing a danger to those in your home.

Before you purchase a stainless steel cleaner, you can try a couple basic home solutions that won’t harm your appliances.

Dish soap and water: This can sometimes work on the items you wouldn’t normally clean in the sink. Be sure to completely dry off the appliance afterward.

White vinegar: This can be effective as well. After applying the vinegar to the surface, allow it to sit briefly before gently wiping it off.


Format

Each of the three primary types of stainless steel cleaner (powder, liquid, and wipes) is better suited to a particular type of appliance and/or surface. The best way to choose a cleaner for a specific surface is to read the manufacturer’s recommendations. Each type comes with its own advantages and disadvantages.

Powder: You sprinkle these stainless steel cleaners on a wet surface and then rub the surface clean with a rag or sponge. For more difficult stains, the powder can be mixed with water to form a paste. This is the best option for cookware and kitchen appliances. Many powders use all-natural ingredients.

Liquid: These cleaners sometimes come in a convenient spray bottle and can be applied directly to surfaces. Sprays work well for large or awkwardly shaped appliances since the spray can be easily applied from a variety of angles. Some liquids use natural ingredients, but they can also include potentially dangerous chemicals.

Wipes: These cleaners eliminate the need for a cleaning cloth or sponge and are easy to dispose of. Wipes excel at reaching tricky areas and can work on a variety of surfaces.


​​​​​​​Outdoor cleaners​​​​​​​

Some stainless steel cleaners specify whether they are designed to be used outdoors. In most cases, this indicates that the product uses biodegradable ingredients, but this is not always the case. Most outdoor stainless steel cleaners are designed to remove and prevent rust buildup; indoor appliances are less likely to rust.

DID YOU KNOW?

Most stainless steel cleaners clean and polish surfaces, giving them a pleasant shine and preventing future stains.

Stainless steel cleaner features

There are several additional factors to consider when choosing a stainless steel cleaner, including the ingredients and additional accessories.

Ingredients

Ingredients are not always listed on stainless steel cleaners, but many state the ingredients they don’t contain. Cleaners with chlorine should always be avoided because chlorine will damage the finish on stainless steel.

pH: Because most of the damage to stainless steel is caused by water, stainless steel cleaners are often acidic, meaning they have a pH lower than 7.0. The acidity of some stainless steel cleaners can make them dangerous to children, pets, and others who may encounter recently cleaned surfaces. While a neutral cleaner with a pH close to 7.0 is generally less effective at eating through rust and calcium, the safety factor might give you more peace of mind.

Natural: Some stainless steel cleaners contain plant-based or other natural ingredients. If you’re looking for an all-natural product, check the ingredients list carefully. All-natural stainless steel cleaners are not always biodegradable, and just because a cleaner is biodegradable doesn’t mean it will break down quickly and without harming the environment. While most aerosol sprays no longer contain gases that can deplete ozone, these sprays can still contribute to smog and can lower the air quality in your home.

You should look into each company to learn more about its reputation and whether its product’s ingredients come from environmentally friendly sources. Many natural stainless steel cleaners indicate that they were not created with animal testing, and some products are food grade.


Other uses

Some stainless steel cleaners can be used on countertops and other surfaces, but read labels carefully. Some more acidic cleaners might damage surfaces like stone or granite. Common surfaces that some products can clean in addition to stainless steel include fiberglass, aluminum, bronze, plastic, and enamel.


Scent

If you’re looking for a scent-free stainless steel cleaner, avoid chemical-based cleaners and instead opt for one that lists natural ingredients. Some stainless steel cleaners have a pleasant scent, often the result of synthetic ingredients, which serves to cover up any unpleasant chemical smell from the product.


Extras

Many stainless steel cleaners include a microfiber cloth, which is an ideal tool for cleaning stainless steel surfaces without damaging or scratching them. The size of this cloth varies, but some are larger than a foot square.

 

EXPERT TIP

Rust and grime present two different cleaning challenges. Know your targets and choose your stainless steel cleaner accordingly.


Staff  | BestReviews

Stainless steel cleaner prices

The price of stainless steel cleaners ranges from $5 to $60 per container, and many cleaners are sold in bulk. Remember that the price per ounce (or per wipe) is the most important consideration. Less-expensive cleaners cost around $0.30 per ounce, while the most expensive options can be as much as $1 per ounce.

Inexpensive: Cleaners that cost from $5 to $10 are often multi-surface and less effective at dealing with rust and calcium buildup.

Mid-range: Most stainless steel cleaners fall in the $10 to $20 range and may be formulated to remove rust from steel appliances. Many of these products are also polishes that leave a shiny surface after removing the grime and fingerprints. Some products on the higher end of this range contain all-natural ingredients.

Expensive: For $20 to $40 you can buy stainless steel cleaners in bulk, usually in multi-packs or one-gallon containers. It’s rare to find smaller containers in this price range.

Tips

  • Consider the price per ounce, not just price per bottle. This is a good rule of thumb when purchasing any cleaner.
  • Test the cleaner on a small, inconspicuous area first. Do this to see how it reacts to the cleaner before cleaning the entire surface.
  • Clean stainless steel in the direction of the grain. You do this not because you will damage the surface but because you can lodge grease and cleaning solution in the grain by wiping across it.
  • Follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Do this to avoid damaging your stainless steel appliances.

Most stainless steel cleaners excel not only at cleaning grime but also at removing fingerprints.

Other products we considered

While we love our top recommendations, there are a few stainless steel cleaners that stand out for their price or design and are worth mentioning. For cleaning wipes, we recommend the Cerama Bryte Stainless Steel Wipes, which use mineral oil to prevent future stains and grease buildup. These easy-to-use wipes are an excellent choice for the kitchen. If you’re looking for a product that is completely safe for pets and children, the Nano Towels Stainless Steel Cleaner is a gentle cloth that helps to remove dirt and grime from stainless steel surfaces using only water. We love that the cloth is completely reusable, resulting in less waste. If you’re looking for a budget cleaner, the Magic Stainless Steel Cleaner and Polish aerosol works well as a polish and a basic cleaner. Customers note the powerful chemical smell, but this cleaner is still a good choice for light stains and grease.

Many cleaners are designed for specific appliances, such as kitchen sinks, refrigerators, dishwashers, or grills.

FAQ

Q. Do I need to use gloves when using a stainless steel cleaner?
A.
While this isn’t necessary with most natural products, it’s a good idea in general because some more acidic or chemical-based cleaners can be harmful to skin.

Q. Do stainless steel cleaners leave streaks?
A.
It’s possible that more abrasive cleaners may leave streaks. Look for products advertised as streak-free and read customer reviews for best results. Gentler cleaners are less likely to leave streaks.

Q. Can I clean knives and other kitchen tools with stainless steel cleaners? A. You should use stainless steel cleaners specifically designed for utensils and cookware because not all cleaners are food grade.

The team that worked on this review
  • Bronwyn
    Bronwyn
    Editor
  • Eliza
    Eliza
    Production Manager
  • Enid
    Enid
    Editor
  • Kyle
    Kyle
    Writer
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer
  • Peter
    Peter
    Writer

BestReviews wants to be better. Please take our 3-minute survey,
and give us feedback about your visit today.

Take Survey