Metal

Heal the Heartbreak of Scratches on Stainless Steel

As sleek and sturdy as it is, stainless steel is not immune to picking up unsightly scratches in the course of everyday household activities. They show up on sinks, appliances, cabinet hardware and stainless counters, too.

There’s a good chance you can restore your scratched metal surfaces, provided you use the right tools and closely follow these tips.

A modern kitchen with stainless steel appliances

There are affiliate links in this post. If you click through and make a purchase, we may receive a small commission at no additional cost to you.

COATED OR NOT?

Some stainless steel appliances and products these days are finished in the factory with a protective synthetic clear coat to reduce the occurrence of fingerprints showing up on the surface. 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 look in the owner manual.

Caution: DO NOT use any of the following techniques on coated stainless. 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.

EXAMINE

When you look very closely at brushed stainless, you will see the brush marks and that they go in a definite direction, known as the grain. This grain was set during the manufacturing process. It is essential that regardless what method and tools you use to remove the scratches that you only rub with the grain—never against the grain! These examples of grain lines in stainless steel will help you detect yours.

Metal

TEST

Always test any kind of process like this in an inconspicuous place like on the back or side; behind the faucets on the sink, along a seam or other out-of-sight place. You do not want any surprises.

FINE SCRATCHES

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 paste that is the consistency of toothpaste.

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 with a third, dry and clean microfiber cloth. If the scratches still appear, repeat the process as many times as needed.

DEEP SCRATCHES

If your uncoated stainless steel scratch situation does not respond to the method above, you need this Siege 63001 Stainless Steel Sink and Cookware Scratch Remover 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 disappears.

NEVER USE THIS ON STAINLESS

Scotch-Brite. I’m talking about the rough, scrubby side of a sponge or a Scotch-Brite cleaning pad. Scotch-Brite will dull and destroy the luster and surface beauty of stainless steel. Scotch-Brite is great for other applications but NOT to clean or polish stainless steel. Just don’t.

POLISH, SHINE AND MAINTAIN

You won’t find a better product to clean and shine all stainless steel products 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.

More from Mary's Everyday Cheapskate

cropped shot of young couple shopping online with credit card and laptop at christmas
bed with heated mattress pad and dual controls
You Have Been Hacked Sign illustration design over white
keychain with tools
Print Friendly, PDF & Email
4 replies
  1. jill says:

    I’d like your opinion, Mary: Are Stainless Steel appliances here to stay (a true classic), or are they finally nearing the end of their run? And are Stainless Steel appliances more duriable and easier to care for than painted/enameled/etc appliances? The protective synthetic clear coat that you mention in the article seems to me like it might be a something to avoid, if possible, especially re: durability considerations.

    I think it is such a shame the way trends work re: the expensive things that go in homes. I would really like to avoid spending a lot of money on Stainless Steel appliances, now, and then in a few year hear that stainless steal is soooooo two-thousand-and-something-teen (same derogratory tone that someone might use in describing avocado green or harvest gold appliances). I’ve recently heard that black might become then new stainless . . and before than I heard that white would become the new stainless, but that has not seemed to have happened (I’m still kind of pulling for white).

    Reply
  2. Estelle Stone says:

    Hi Mary. OK, so you said “Just Don’t” on using Scotch Brite on Stainless Steel. Well, unfortunately I’ve already done that. :-(. Yes, my stainless sink is not looking so good. Any recommendations as to what I can do to rectify my blunder?? Is it salvageable? Thanks so much!!

    Reply
  3. Cheryl says:

    I have a whirlpool refrigerator that show streaks when some water, liquid or food has splashed on it. Visualize a streak down the freezer front or spots. I didn’t catch these when they happened so no easy wipe with my microfiber cloth that I use to clean around the handle.
    Any solutions?

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *