how to: naturally clean stainless steel (before & after)

Stainless steel appliances in the new house had me more than excited. But within a couple days of moving in, thanks to a matchbox car being gouged up and down the fridge door, seeing {and hearing!} those first few scratches were painful. Then came the fingerprints, handprints and licks {from our dog…oh who am I kidding, my boys too} and by the end of the first week I had the sad realization that keeping my fridge, dishwasher and stove looking new was going to be a never.ending.battle.

I tried a bunch of eco-friendly cleaners, glass cleaner, soap and water but nothing was making the cut – they left my fridge either filmy, streaky,  dull or all of the above. I didn’t want to turn to a brand loaded with chemicals even though I’m sure it’d burn the smudges off,  so I went to the internet for solutions and I came across an unexpected tip: Use baby oil.

Oil? On steel? Say what? Since baby oil isn’t exactly eco-friendly and I have none in the house, I turned to my pantry for the natural alternative: olive oil.

Read on mamas for the how-to:

Watermarks from the water & ice dispenser, fingerprints, yogurt {I think}…

- a wet cloth

- a soft dry cloth

- olive oil

Start by wiping down your fridge with a wet cloth to remove any dried on food from tiny hands. I found dried on tomato seeds. *sigh*.

Next, grab your olive oil and a soft cloth. Old baby facecloths or prefold cloth diapers you’re not using work perfectly.

Pour about 1tbsp onto your cloth and start buffing. Finish it by rubbing up and down with the grain. Try not to cringe at the scratches on your fridge…you won’t notice them {much} when you’re finished.

See??!! The olive oil buffs out every little watermark, smudge and streak.


Now stand back and fall in love with your stainless all over again.

No, your fridge won’t feel or look greasy and it’s a cinch to spot clean. Just keep your cloth handy and quickly run it over any noticeable smudges {no need to add more olive oil}. I give it a “good clean” about once every 4 days.  You can even run your cloth over the water dispenser…the olive oil will remove marks on plastic and make it shiny again. This post was sponsored by EasyApplianceParts.

About Amanda

Amanda Robinson is the eco-chic, green living, fitness loving mom behind Natural Mommie. Since early 2009, Amanda has been the source for moms to learn how to bring more balanced green beauty, eco-friendly, sustainable, organic products into their lives without being too “crunchy” or “granola”. Amanda is passionate about wellness and inspiring moms to make more eco-friendly and healthy choices without having to give up their hip mama selves and trade in their stilettos for Birkenstocks. She can often be found sipping green tea, behind her camera, diy’ing, instagramming, in the middle of a workout, chasing her two little boys around her farm or with her nose in an ingredients list in efforts to help other moms become more aware of what is really in the products they buy.


  1. My neighbour does this and it was the best advice I have ever received. I will have to repost this, now that I have another person doing this, maybe someone will believe me!
    Excellent, informative post:)

  2. Great tip! It’s amazing how the simple things work the best.

  3. Was just wondering about this yesterday. Thanks!!

  4. w ow thanks for the tip Amanda i don’t have tiny finger prints on the frig but grampie is always messy you know how i like things sparkley clean
    i will try the olive oil ,see you in 12 days love grammie

  5. If we get stainless steel for our new kitchen, I’ll be sure to try this! Amazing!

  6. Awesome tip, I would have never thought of using olive oil to clean.

  7. I’ve been struggling with marks on my appliances since I bought them (and it stresses me out when I see them!) – I’m really excited to try this!!

  8. Delighted to see this posted. For years I’ve used olive oil on the black handles of my
    frig & water/ice tray which makes the frig look like new, but never thought of using it
    on the stainless steel. Thanks!!!

  9. i am the happiest woman alive! I have the same fridge – and with three kids, I can NEVER get it to look this good. I literally hopped right over and did this after reading – LOOKS AWESOME. Thank you!!!

  10. I just found this on Pinterest and tried it. AWESOME!! Thank you for sharing!!

  11. Ok, It’s almost midnight here and I just read your post on how to clean stainless appliances. I bought my new kitchen about 4 months ago and love the look but hate all the prints and water drips and food marks etc. I just went downstairs and tried your method and HOLY COWWWWW …..they look brand new again and so super shiny!! Thank you so much for the great tip!! You’re amazing and thanks for the awesome information!

  12. Love the simplicity and how effective this is… thanks I like you Dream and mission very much I also teach and share sustainable homemaking/homesteading. Its nice to meet you and I look forward to learning from you and blogging along side one another. Blessings and Support, Amy

  13. Thank you so much!! I just did this and am amazed at the results and don’t have to worry about the chemicals in the home either! Who would have ever thought… EVOO!! You need to share this on Rachael Ray’s show as one of the those “double duty” tips!

  14. I really wanted this to work, but it didn’t do a darn thing! The fridge still looks horrible, and now it has a film over it :(

    • Hi Lori! This is the first I’ve heard of it not working! Do you have real stainless steel or the faux stainless steel or a low grade stainless steel? Try the magnet test – if it sticks, it’s either a faux stainless finish (painted or vinyl coated steel) or a lower-grade stainless.

      Read more:

      Or maybe it just needs to be buffed out some more with a soft cloth?

      • Lori-I had the same problem at first. The EVOO left a yucky film on my fridge and I even thought that maybe I had been tricked into ruining my fridge! But the first time I used the oil I had put it on a damp towel, and didn’t use very much. I went back at it with a dry cloth and a good amount of oil. It worked! Rub the oil in circles and then buff with the dry part of the towel by following the grain of the stainless steel. I had to use windex on my stove which was much dirtier.

  15. I used the olive oil with a semi-light scouring pad and was able to get all the hard water marks and grime off of the stainless steel. Worked amazingly considering it’s just olive oil against a stainless steel cleaner. So my tip is use a light abrasive pad and give it a little elbow grease.

    • Thanks for your comment Bill! I don’t know if I would recommend using anything abrasive on stainless steel as mine scratches sooo easily! Glad to hear your method worked for you!

  16. I was so excited to try this and it didn’t work at all!! It left horrible greasy streaks all over. I’ve had to make a baking soda/water paste and let it sit just to get the oil off. I have a higher end, stainless fridge so that’s not the problem…really wish it worked for me

  17. Tried this and it made my appliances look like new. But then my dog walked by and started licking the fridge. LOL gotta love the lick marks LOL

  18. M Isabel Barnes says:

    Thank you for this!
    I just finished cleaning my fridge and it looks great! Not very time consuming. You need to cover all of the stainless steel with it. It even cleaned the plastic wround the ice and water section.
    I cut up one of my husband’s old cotton t-shirt and it worked well.

  19. I discovered the same thing but i used plain mineral oil and it works just as well! I use on all my stainless steel in the kitchen and everything comes out beautifully. I also want to add that my kitchen cupboards were very old thin wood with lots of splits and worn off areas, they looked horrible and we figured we would have to redo each one of them. I took a soft cloth and mineral oil and buffed each cupboard door and frame and was amazed at how beautiful they came out. It’s been 4 months and they still look great, with no oily feeling. Certainly worth a try and budget saving at under 2 dollars a bottle!

    • The beauty of it is that you can really use any type of oil you have on hand, course olive oil is the best if you want to go chemical free. That’s fantastic news that your cupboards are looking freshened up and you can avoid a redo for the time being! Thanks for sharing Joanne!

  20. Also, pledge furniture polish works very well. I spray it on the fridge and they wipe. Just make sure you clean your floor around the area. I slipped a few times after!

    • Beverly Hall says:

      I believe that is why it is better to put the olive oil on a cloth! Then you don’t spray the bad aerosol in the air and have to clean what was in the air and fell on the floor!

  21. I can totally see this working I have used evoo in a lot of my cleaning try it on leather sofa made mine look like new again also I use it on my real wood furniture and it is beautiful also not considered house cleaning but try it in the shower to soften your skin after showering put it on and dry off it is amazing thanks for sharing

  22. WOW it really works! It’s 10 at night and I couldn’t wait to do this… My kitchen looks awesome right now!! Thank you so much

  23. Hi just is it on real stainless or Imitation ?
    To know if it real a magnet will not stick to it :) a trick when you shop for stainless

  24. We just moved and purchased a kitchen-load of new stainless steel accessories and appliances… this will be very useful, thank you.

  25. Works awesome, thanks

  26. Thank You!!! Thank You!!!! Thank You!….. Makes me like my stainless everything once again….(:

  27. Did you know that you can buff out must minor scratches using a very fine steelwool, just make sure to go with the grain not against it or you will cause new scratches.

  28. I tried this on my refrigerator and stove and it worked great. The stainless steel has a nice feel to it now and it seems almost impossible to leave finger prints now. Amanda, do you think I could save the cloth that I used in a ziplock bag for some time to use over again before washing without any adverse effects?

    • Glad it worked for you! I rotate through a couple cloths and just use them over and over. I don’t think I’d store it in a ziploc though – the moisture might cause it to grow something!

  29. Do you have any tips for the top of stove smooth top?

  30. Hi! I LIKE your little “tip!” I mentioned it to my husband & he said, to get rid of those scratches, use FINE STEEL WOOL! (He did say if it is a BIG scratch, you COULD start with sand paper & work your way down to fine steel wool!) I doubt your scratches are THAT DEEP! ;) BUT, sand with the grain! :)

  31. I tried this but the fingerprints keep coming back from the kids so I have gone back to the rog3 diluted cleaner it works great and we also found dusts builds up on the stainless csusingbus to keep putting the oil every day, I should have gotten a white fridge. Thanks

  32. I guess all stainless is not equal. I just tried it on my new Whirlpool fridge and it made it look horrible. I should have asked you what manufacture your fridge was before jumping to do this on mine. I’ve never been able to keep the stainless Whirlpool range clean either. My Bosch dishwasher is easier tho.

    Whirlpool says use soft cloth and detergent but I just tried that and it failed also probably because the olive oil is on there. Now my fridge looks terrible..sigh.

    • Sandi – is your fridge true stainless steel or does it have a coating on top? If it’s stainless steel a magnet won’t stick to it.

      To remove the olive oil a spray of vinegar would help :)

      Also, my fridge is a 2 year old Whirlpool.

    • try cleaning all off with elbow grease and a glass cleaner that is made for all surfaces. then you have to use that elbow grease again to buff SS to a wonderful shine. If you find the dust piling up on it you have not buffed the oil enough.

  33. Thanks for reminding me about oil! we used to clean our stainless steel inside the cookwagon for a carnival I travel with back in my younger days. It is best to use a fresh oil so you never have that stale rancid smell. Keep up the great hints and problem solvers!

  34. Oh that’s just AWESOME! I wish I knew this trick back when I had my apt cleaning biz and lived in an apt with a ss fridge. Oh well! I’ll try it out on my toaster this week. Thanks so much! Totally sharing!

  35. Deb Mason says:

    Thanks! The olive oil for the fridge was great! Now, any tips for the black top portion of my stove? It too shows every smudge & every drop of water? Is there a good natural agent for this?

  36. I have some old scratches at the very top of my refrigerator that have been there for a few years, someone used the scrubbing side of a new sponge to “clean ” it before I could stop them there was very unsightly scratching done. Yes this is a stainless steel unit. is there anything else I can do to “buff” them out..

  37. Thanks! Works great except one problem…my dog is attracted to the smell and rubbed her wet nose all over the door. Ugh!

  38. Beverly Hall says:

    The olive oil didn’t work for me. I got some of the new soft scrub in a black bottle for marble, granite and stainless. I put a little on a damp cloth wiped the whole front, then took a dry cloth and shined it ! It has lasted a week now since I did it. It is a gel, no scrub or grit to it!

  39. Great tip, however undiluted white vinegar also does the trick and is much cheaper. I realize some people don’t like the smell of it (although it dissipates fairly quickly) and would rather use oil, but just wanted to give another easy option!

  40. One year ago, to save money, we purchased a floor model stainless steel fridge. There was one minor scratch that we thought we could live with. After the fridge was delivered we saw discoloration on the door where they had signs and price tag on the fridge while in the store. Since it was a final sale, we could not have it returned or replaced. I used olive oil and have been using olive oil for finger prints and smudges for the last year, but the discoloration was still very visible. Figured we would just have to live with it. Recently, I decided to search other methods that could possibly get the discoloration removed. I found a site that recommended ammonia. I was hesitant but tried it in an inconspicuous area. Was ok, so tried it on the discoloration. I used equal parts ammonia & water. I had to go over it several times but the stains were finally gone. After one year of living with a fridge I was disappointed in, it now looks like new. So, now I’ll use both olive oil and the ammonia solution when needed.

  41. Does it have to be olive oil? I have a huge bottle of soy oil (which I don’t eat anymore) and it’s way cheaper than olive so I’d rather use that. :) Thanks for sharing this idea!

  42. At first, the olive oil did not take away all the streaks but I ran back over the surface with a clean cloth (old piece of flannel that I use for dusting) and TA DA! Looks amazing!

  43. Great tip! Beautiful finish… So easy to do and kind of fun to play with your food. :-)

  44. Tina Michel says:

    I tried many things and ended up with ugly spots on my stainless fridge. I searched the ‘net and found your solution – OIive Oil works great! It not only removed all of the finger marks, but it removed the ugly spots also. Thank you!

  45. I bought a fancy-pants bottle of chemical cleaner and….? It did little to remove the spots on the fridge. Very disappointing considering how much I spent on the darn thing – not to mention the stainless microwave, oven, dishwasher and trash can! Then I came across your suggestion. Couldn’t be true….olive oil? So I tried it. A plain cloth didn’t do much. Then I tried a soft scrubber. A little better! Finally, I remembered the fine steel wool scrubbers I got at the dollar store. AMAZING results! Furthermore, I poured olive oil on my broom and it danced around the kitchen and cleaned the floor too! Just like in Fantasia! (I wish….)

    I also noted that if your stainless has been neglected like mine? Don’t give up. Each application seems to improve results! I’m also thinking that the oil probably leaves a coat of a protecting layer – at the microscopic level – to help make removing new dirt and grime easier in the future too.

    But here’s the big question….as an elementary science teacher I’m wondering. WHY does it work? What is it in the olive oil that makes it such a wonderful and safe cleaner? This is the best thing since vinegar as window cleaner!

  46. so interesting how this works for some and not for others. here’s my story. always willing to try most anything natural, i wanted to give this a shot cuz what we all CAN agree on is stainless can be a witch (oops, did i misspell that?). since my olive oil is very expensive, i wondered if the grape seed oil that had been sitting around for months would work. oil is oil, right? (well, food oils) anyway, IT DID A FABULOUS JOB! what a great way to put those questionable oils that have been sitting for a while to good use. try them all! thanks for the excellent tip!!!!

  47. WD-40 works great. Spray it on soft cloth., buff away. Beautiful!

  48. WD-40 works great! Spray on soft cloth and buff away. Beautiful!

  49. I bought my Bosch dishwasher a few years ago and almost immediately I had water streaks on it that I couldn’t remove. I tried every cleaner under the sun and finally decided to live with it…this very expensive messy looking dishwasher. Today, after years of living with it I thought I’d search the web again. I tried vinegar first which did nothing for it. I then went back and found your post….IT WORKED! I was so happy that I posted to my neighborhood moms Facebook page to let all of them know. Thank you so much for helping make my dishwasher beautiful!

  50. I’ve been using lemon oil on my new Whirlpool stainless steel appliances for a year, and it works beautifully! Leaves a nice smell too.

  51. Hi All – Used Grapeseed Oil on a paper towel on my Liebherr stainless fridge and for the first time ever, it looks uniformly shiny and amazing!


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  2. […] Stainless Steel Polish/Cleanser – The right cloth and some olive oil clean up your stainless steel appliances and buff out trouble spots. […]

  3. […] you to for discovering and sharing such an easy […]

  4. […] And all I use to clean them is a wet dish cloth. Crazy considering one of my most popular posts is how to clean stainless steel appliances.  I used to go through this process every other day before I had the Frigidaire Smudge-Proof […]

  5. […] Clean stainless steel appliances by adding a few drops of olive oil to a soft cloth then wipe the appliance in the direction of the grain. Dry with a clean cloth. […]

  6. […] nothing totally got rid of the streaks and fingerprints. Then I read about using olive oil on Natural Mommie. I tried it–and IT WORKS! Wipe down the doors with a damp cloth first to remove any dirt. […]

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