Scratches on stainless steel forks, knives and spoons can bring down the wow factor of an otherwise well-set table. Polishing stainless steel cutlery doesn't have to be a time-consuming and tedious endeavor. Whether it's the scratches on the small appliances that crowd the kitchen counter, the hulking appliances that create the meals, the utensils that finish off a perfect place setting or the serving platters that create atmosphere on the table, polishing stainless steel can transform the dull object into a sparkling treasure.
Supplies for a Superior Shine
The gleaming stainless steel surface is a beauty to behold until it's scratched and dull from hard use. The durable material scratches rather easily yet can take a beating and continue its useful function. Many may be surprised to learn that a nice sanding with 400- to 600-grit sandpaper can buff out deep scratches without harming the surrounding stainless steel surface. In addition to a sanding block for big jobs, the sanding paper and even professional nail files for scratches in hard-to-reach areas, gather a good cleaner, baking soda or rubbing compound, sanding fluid if sanding and soft cloths. Flatware manufacturers have made formulas that are specially built to banish scratches, nicks and haze from utensils, such as the hard-working Pfaltzgraff cleaner.
Before trying any cleaner on the stainless steel surface, attempt the procedure on an area that can't be seen. If you plan to sand, try the technique first on a stainless steel object that isn't as important if you can. The technique can take a few tries before you perfect it. This will keep you from creating a bigger mark on the appliance or item you hope to clean and repair. WD-40 has also been known to bring out the shine on a large stainless steel appliance.
Polish Stainless Steel Flatware
Scratches on stainless steel flatware are relatively easy to buff out. To polish stainless steel flatware with a homemade cleaner, combine vinegar in a spray bottle with a drop of dish liquid. Sprinkle baking soda onto the scratched area and spray with the vinegar solution. Use a scrubber to get the baking soda into the scratch and buff out with a soft cloth. To give the cutlery a good cleaning, soak the utensils in vinegar and baking soda. After leaving them in for an hour or even overnight, buff them to a high shine with a soft cloth.
Repair Clinic for Cutlery
If the flatware is pocked, chipped or has bent tines or handles, you may need to be a bit more invasive in how you go about bringing it back to its former unspoiled state. Stainless flatware repair includes using pliers, sandpaper, a toothbrush and a soft cloth. Use a small pair of needle-nose pliers to gently straighten any bent tines. If pock marks persist, use the finest grit sandpaper to swipe at the nick until it disappears. A rubbing compound will smooth the area so that it appears that the nick was never there. A toothbrush is helpful in getting the rubbing compound, baking soda or other gentle abrasive into any detailed areas.
Large Appliance Polishing
For large appliances and large, deep scratches, begin with the finest grit of sandpaper. Put a stream of sanding fluid onto the area in a corkscrew pattern to ensure it gets into the scratch as well as the surrounding area. Gently sand the area for a few minutes. If the scratch persists, move up in the grit of the sandpaper, but don't expand beyond 600 grit so as not to damage the stainless steel surface. Once the mark is gone, sand over the rest of the area to blend in and buff out the area with a stainless steel cleaner.
Kimberley McGee is an award-winning journalist with 20+ years of experience writing for a variety of clients, including The New York Times, Las Vegas Review-Journal Home section and other national publications. As a professional writer she has researched, interviewed sources and written about home improvement, interior design and related business trends. She earned a B.A. in Journalism from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Her full bio and clips can be viewed at www.vegaswriter.com.