As sleek and sturdy as it is, stainless steel is not immune to picking up unsightly scratches in the course of everyday household activities. Scratches show up on stainless steel sinks, appliances, cabinet hardware, and counters, too. There’s a good chance you can remove scratches on stainless steel surfaces, provided you use the right tools and closely follow these tips.
Is It Coated or Uncoated?
Some stainless steel appliances and products these days are finished in the factory with a protective synthetic clear coat to reduce fingerprints showing up on the surface. Whirlpool, for example, offers a line of fingerprint-resistant stainless steel appliances.
While subtle, I can tell the difference between coated and uncoated stainless steel simply by looking at it. If you are not sure if your stainless is coated or not, check with the manufacturer or owner manual.
DO NOT use any of the following techniques on coated stainless steel, often referred to as smudge-proof or fingerprint-resistan. You will end up with a much worse problem than you have already. Sadly, if your stainless is coated and scratched, you may have to learn to live with it. The following techniques are for uncoated stainless steel only.
When you look very closely at brushed stainless, you will see the brush marks. Notice how they go in a definite direction, known as the “grain.” This grain was set during the manufacturing process.
It is essential that regardless of what method and tools you use to remove the scratches, you only rub with the grain—never against the grain! These examples of grain lines in stainless steel will help you detect yours.
Always test any process like this in an inconspicuous place, such as on the back or side, behind the faucets on the sink, along a seam, or another out-of-sight place. You do not want any surprises.
Fine Scratches on Stainless Steel
Pour a small amount of Bar Keepers Friend powdered cleanser in a small bowl. Add enough water—a few drops at a time— to make a toothpaste consistency.
Apply a small amount of this paste to a clean, dry, microfiber cloth. Very gently rub it back and forth over the scratch moving in straight lines (you don’t want to end up with an unattractive circular pattern) and only with the grain of the uncoated stainless steel.
Using a second damp microfiber cloth, gently wipe away all of the paste to examine the situation. Fine scratches will have disappeared. Dry and clean with a third cloth. If the scratches still appear, repeat the process as many times as needed.
If your scratch situation on uncoated stainless steel does not respond to the method above, you need this Rejuvenate Stainless Steel Scratch Eraser Kit. Read the instructions carefully.
Start by identifying the direction of the grain on your stainless. Select the appropriate grit pad recommended in the kit instructions. Use only the least amount of pressure it takes to remove that scratch. You do not want to go any deeper than necessary.
If the scratch still appears, move to the next grit pad following the kit instructions exactly. Keep working until the scratch(s) disappears.
Scotch-Brite comes in two versions: dark green and blue. NEVER use a heavy-duty green Scotch-Brite on stainless steel. I’m talking about the rough, scrubby green side of a yellow Scotch-Brite sponge and the green Scotch-Brite cleaning pads. This heavy-duty version of Scotch-Brite will dull and destroy the luster and surface beauty of stainless steel. It’s great for other applications but NOT to clean or polish stainless steel. Just don’t.
Non-scratch Scotch-Brite sponges and scour pads are blue. These are safe and effective for non-stick cookware and cleaning. If you must use a Scotch-Brite scrubbing-style sponge or pad on your stainless appliances and cookware, make sure it is blue. Always blue.
Out of an abundance of caution, my advice is to ban green Scotch-Brite from your home if you own stainless steel appliances. If they can find it, guests, family members, housekeepers—in the act of trying to be helpful—will use that green Scotch-Brite to polish up the kitchen. Count on it.
Coated and Non-Coated Maintenance
You won’t find a better product to clean, polish, and maintain all stainless steel products—coated and non-coated— than the fabulous Sprayway Stainless Steel Cleaner. It is oil-based, leaves no streaks—only a beautiful luster that will make your eyes pop. Apply and polish with a very soft cloth.
A good maintenance product such as Sprayway Stainless Steel Cleaner is not cheap. But neither were your stainless appliances, sink, pots and pans! A small investment in quality maintenance is certainly something to consider.
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