How To Clean Stainless Steel Appliances

If you’ve ever owned them, you know: Stainless steel appliances can carry more fingerprints than an episode of “CSI,” especially if you have kids. And the sleek, shiny finish gets pretty streaky, making you wonder how to clean stainless steel.

How To Clean Stainless Steel

Cleaning stainless steel appliances is not like cleaning other surfaces, because it’s easy to leave behind streaks from the actual cleaning process itself.

We sell a really good cleaner for stainless steel appliances called Affresh, which we use in all of our retail locations. If you think your kitchen is bad, imagine how much our appliances get touched!

But sometimes company is coming over and you don’t have time to run to the store. Try baby oil. Apply with an old towel or rag in small doses so you don’t end up with a greasy refrigerator. Wipe with the grain for the shiniest finish.

Stainless Steel Finish Options

If you’re looking for a maintenance-free option, some manufacturers make smudge-proof and fingerprint-resistant stainless steel finishes, such as Frigidaire, Whirlpool and Maytag. As a bonus, some of these premium finish options are even scratch-resistant.

What stainless steel cleaning tips do you have? Share them in the comments.

Cold-Water Washing? People Aren’t Buying It

New York Times photo

In this thinly veiled puff piece for Procter & Gamble’s Tide Coldwater, The New York Times reports that despite the efficacy and saved money/energy of cold-water washes, consumers are still hesitant to give up hot-water washes:

Procter officials said they were encouraged by company surveys that showed more consumers were washing in cold water. When Tide Coldwater was introduced in 2005, just 30 percent of laundry loads were washed in cold water; now, it’s pushing 40 percent.

“We have people moving from warm to cold,” said Dawn French, the company’s director of North America laundry products research and formula design. “But hot-water loads have remained very steady.”

Currently, about 7 percent of white laundry loads are done in cold water, compared with 22 percent for lights and 57 percent for darks, according to company studies.

Many of us do probably wash our colors in cold water, but I’ll admit I usually still do my whites in hot water. Though after reading this article I’m reminded how frivolous that likely is.

And expensive (according to the article, energy savings isn’t really a big selling point with Americans, yet).

About 90 percent of the energy used for washing clothes in an average washer is for heating the water. Switching your temperature setting from hot to warm can cut a load’s energy use in half.

It really is a no-brainer, given current technology.

One possible issue associated with only washing in cold water: smelly washers. I’m sure that cold-water detergent is formulated to fully dissolve — making residue less of an issue — but remember to keep your washer open between loads, wipe your gasket clean occasionally and run a washer cleaner through as needed.

Hard Water Wastes Your Energy and Detergent

If you’re not ecstatic about the performance of your dishwasher and/or washer, don’t immediately blame your machine. There could be something in the water.

Using a water softener can cut detergent use in washers and dishwashers by more than half and lower washing machine temperatures from hot to cold, as shown by two independent studies released in the last two years.

Less detergent and cold water achieved the same stain removal in washing machines using softened water as double the detergent and hot water in hard water. And dishwashers using softened water needed less than half the detergent if used in areas having very hard water (Minnesota is among areas with the hardest water), while achieving the same results.

Plus, the study showed that untreated hard water can cause significant efficiency losses and added costs in water heating – up to 48% in some cases. In addition, hard water was found to rapidly lead to clogged shower heads, in some cases possibly as soon as a year and a half.

After just one week of constant testing with hard water, more than three-fourths of shower head nozzles became clogged, according to laboratory results. Shower heads using softened water, meanwhile, performed nearly as well as on the day they were installed.

If it sounds like you have hard water, our local guys, Water Doctors, can diagnose your water and if necessary, customize a water treatment system for your home.

The last kitchen cleaner you’ll ever buy

If Sisyphus existed in modern times, his eternal punishment would be achieving a clean stovetop. Because it’s almost impossible.

If your stove top is white, you can never quite remove every last discoloration. If you’re cleaning a glass top stove, you’ll rue the day you ever overboiled a pot or cooked atop existing food residue. Black glass top ranges seem to attract dust every night.

Miracle in a sponge.

I’ve blogged previously about how to a clean stove top using Barkeepers Friend and a razor blade, but if you could only buy one tool, make it the Mr. Clean Magic Eraser or (if you’re cheap like me) its generic copycats.

Made of melamine foam, whose tiny particles act like extra-fine sandpaper when moistened, magic erasers do as named and erase otherwise persistent stains from hard surfaces. You might want to test a small area if you’re nervous about scratches, but I’ve never run into any problems.

I use mine to remove hardened food the discoloration around the burners on my white gas range, but it multitasks in my porcelain sink and especially on shower tile soap scum and grout mildew.

Am I missing anything? I bet there are tons of creative uses for these.

Help! Dishwasher Not Cleaning Dishes

Gloria Steinem said that the truth will set you free, but first it will piss you off.

Well, here’s some truth if you find your dishwasher is not cleaning the dishes properly. A lot of your problems don’t have anything to do with your appliance – they have to do with you.

No other appliance operates with so many variables, many of which you can affect:

  • the amount of dishes
  • how dirty they are
  • the amount of detergent and rinse aid
  • dish placement

Dishwasher Problem: Water Isn’t Hot Enough

Before you get all huffy because you spent X-hundred amount of dollars on the darn thing, understand that little, tiny changes to the way you do things will improve the cleaning results of your dishwasher immensely.

If you do nothing else differently,try this hack: just before you turn on your dishwasher, run your faucet until the water is steaming hot.

Otherwise, the water pumped into your dishwasher will be cold from sitting in your copper pipes. This way, you start with steamy water that has the best chance of reaching the high temperatures necessary for cleaning and drying completely. Water needs to be heated to 140-degrees Fahrenheit to dissolve food messes and disinfect dishes.

Dishwasher Problem: Too Much Soap

Despite what you might think, too much soap can actually prevent your dishes from getting clean — especially on the top rack.

Use only half the amount of detergent recommended on the package. And if you have a water softener, you need only 1-2 teaspoons of powder — even less if you use liquid.

I think these people may have used too much detergent.

Too much soap causes over-sudsing. The dishwasher tries to drain as much of the soap suds and food residue as it can, but is unable to drain it all in the time allowed.

Then the soap bubbles pop inside, redepositing tiny food particles back onto the dishes, which show up most on glassware and silverware.

How do you know if you’re over-sudsing? Run a cycle without any soap. If suds are left at the bottom of the tub, you’re over-sudsing.

To remedy, we suggest a vinegar cycle:

  • First, empty any dishes and shut soap door, without adding any detergent
  • Run dishwasher until it gets to the wash cycle
  • Then, open the door and check if the dispenser flap has opened
    • If it hasn’t, run for another minute or so until the flap opens
    • If the flap has opened, add  1 cup vinegar and run through the full cycle

You might have to repeat the process two or three times to ensure you’ve eliminated the buildup of soap.

And don’t forget the rinse aid if your dishwasher isn’t drying!

Featured image via Cove