The must-have kitchen appliances for almost two decades have been stainless steel. Their easy-to-clean surfaces and industrial appeal has made the home kitchen look more like a professional restaurant. But with all that stainless steel come fingerprints, dents and scratches. Maintaining it isn’t hard, but what about stains and damage to the finish? The good news is you may be able to fix many stainless steel problems.

Prevention

Keeping your stainless steel looking good is a case of preventing damage to begin with. In sinks, adding a stainless sink grid or rubber liner and saddle over the divider can stop a lot of damage. Try to use spoon rests or plates by the stove to hold metallic cooking utensils so the stove surface isn’t scratched.

The beauty of stainless steel is its ease in cleaning. Use dishwashing detergent or stainless steel cleaner applied with a soft sponge or microfiber towel, and then wipe it dry. Avoid any chemicals like oven cleaners or anything with chloride (such as bleach) or acid (such as rust removers), because they can create stains on stainless surfaces.

Make a habit of wiping down your sink or stove after using. This will keep your stainless steel looking great and reduce the potential for rust or stains. Lastly, be careful not to use the abrasive or scratchy side of your sponge to clean your stove or sink; it can scratch the surface.

Scratches

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If you have scratches or damage, don’t attempt to remove without first trying the method in an inconspicuous area first. Always start with something soft and then work your way up the abrasion ladder.

It’s important to remember to always rub back and forth — with the grain of the metal — and not to use circular motions. If you use a circular motion, you’ll end up with more scratching and a marred finish.

To begin with, you may want to try baking soda mixed with dishwashing liquid. Make this into a paste and then gently rub the scratch before rinsing. The second method is a sponge with a small amount of liquid abrasive cleaner. For stubborn scratches, try a polishing paste made specifically for metal polishing.

Another way to remove scratches is with superfine steel wool and a small amount of cooking oil. But, again, always test first, and be sure to rub the scratch with even pressure and in a back-and-forth motion.

These methods are suitable for brushed stainless steel appliances. However, if you have a mirror finish surface with scratches, it may need to be replaced because this is the most difficult surface to repair.

Dents

After scratching, one of the most frustrating problems with stainless steel is a dent. Dents that are large and shallow can sometimes be pulled out with suction. Dings and creases are another problem altogether and aren’t typically something that is easily repaired; the metal usually needs to be removed and pounded from behind.