How can I Remove Fingerprints on Stainless Steel Appliances?

Kris Roudebush
Kris Roudebush
A thin layer of olive oil can make appliances shine again.
A thin layer of olive oil can make appliances shine again.

Stainless steel is a beautiful material for appliances. They can really make a kitchen pop. Their sleek lines and shiny surfaces just beg for attention. Once they arrive in your kitchen, however, they lose their magazine-like sheen and take on every single fingerprint, dust fragment, and miscellaneous smudge that ever thought of entering your home. Keeping them looking good means taking a lot of time to remove fingerprints.

Baking soda can remove rust from appliances.
Baking soda can remove rust from appliances.

There is a great deal of advice available on how to remove fingerprints. You can use glass cleaner to remove fingerprints. Also try wetting a chamois or a super soft cloth with warm water, any excess water squeezed out, and just rub with the grain. Then there is this technique; mild soap to clean first to remove fingerprints, dirt, and oil, follow up with a little furniture polish to create a thin layer of wax. This keeps your appliance fingerprint free for about a week. You could also follow up with a clean cloth and apply a very little olive oil for shine and even more fingerprint protection. There are several manufacturers of stainless steel cleaners that are very good at removing fingerprints.

Bleach and other harsh cleansers can take the shine off stainless steel.
Bleach and other harsh cleansers can take the shine off stainless steel.

Be aware that some products and techniques may cause your stainless steel to darken or dull over time. Commercial stainless steel cleaners are particularly bad about this as they leave an oily build up each time you use them. Oil will attract dirt and dust which can cause discoloration. If you choose to use any method with oil or wax remember to wash with mild soap and warm water each week before reapplying another oil or wax treatment.

Manufacturers may put texture on the surface of stainless steel appliances to prevent fingerprints from sticking.
Manufacturers may put texture on the surface of stainless steel appliances to prevent fingerprints from sticking.

You do want to be careful about what you use to remove fingerprints from stainless steel appliances. Never use bleach, or chloride based cleaners or anything with muric acid. These cleaners can cause your shiny beauties to rust. If you do find a few rust spots on your appliances, do not despair. Try using a little baking soda. Gently scrub with the grain and it should come out. If not, or for severe stains, use a heavy duty rust fighter called oxalic acid. It comes in a powder and you’ll want to read the manufacturer’s instructions for use in case you need gloves or other equipment.

Stainless steel manufacturers are also aware of their fingerprint problems. To help with this, they may put texture on the surface to keep prints from sticking. Some will even use an epoxy seal. An epoxy seal can yellow and peel with age so be sure that you’re careful to follow the manufacturer’s directions for the care of your seal. Removing fingerprints is part of life when you bring a stainless steel appliance home, but it’s not an impossible task.

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Discussion Comments

anon317354

My favorite cleaner is Weiman Stainless Steel Cleaner and Polish. Also, I created the Handle Babe (an appliance handle cover) which totally cuts down on the number of fingerprints and smudges on the handles and door! You simply pull them off and toss them in the washing machine with your dishtowels when they need to be cleaned. They have a "pocket" design, allowing you to slide your hand into the pocket, keeping smudges off both the handle, and the door of the appliance directly behind the handle.

anon214734

Remove finger prints fast and easy: use Endust spray. Spray on and wipe off. Fingerprints gone, no hard rubbing or streaking.

jlmk

I have always loved the look of stainless steel appliances -- I want a kitchen full of them. But, I have heard the complaints about how they are always covered with fingerprints, so I've hesitated to actually purchase them for my home.

Now that I know there are ways to protect them from all of the fingerprints, I think I may reconsider. If a little bit of furniture polish can keep them looking nice for a week, it doesn't sound so bad. I think I can handle cleaning my appliances once a week.

I wonder, though, if anyone has looked into the long term effects of using furniture polish on stainless steel. I don't want to end up damaging my appliances in the long run, because of fingerprints.

upnorth31

Isn't it a little strange that commercial stainless steel cleaners could damage the appearance of stainless steel over time?

I wonder if there are certain cleaners that are safer than others.

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    • A thin layer of olive oil can make appliances shine again.
      A thin layer of olive oil can make appliances shine again.
    • Baking soda can remove rust from appliances.
      Baking soda can remove rust from appliances.
    • Bleach and other harsh cleansers can take the shine off stainless steel.
      By: Ljupco Smokovski
      Bleach and other harsh cleansers can take the shine off stainless steel.
    • Manufacturers may put texture on the surface of stainless steel appliances to prevent fingerprints from sticking.
      By: jokerpro
      Manufacturers may put texture on the surface of stainless steel appliances to prevent fingerprints from sticking.