How to Sterilize Stainless Steel

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Rubbing alcohol is great for sterilizing your stainless steel appliances.
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They are sleek, elegant and a popular choice for kitchens. Stainless steel appliances are favored for a wide variety of reasons, particularly how easy the smooth surface is to keep clean. The gleaming metal surfaces can become dull and gray if they aren't cleaned often enough or are cleaned with the wrong detergents and tools.


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Although it appears indestructible, stainless steel needs a gentle hand when cleaning and sterilizing to maintain its flawless facade. Follow a few simple rules when cleaning to keep that shining surface at its most pristine.

What Not to Do

Before blasting a grimy stainless steel appliance door or paneling, make sure to use the proper tools. Don't be tempted to try to remove bits of food or smears of grease from the stainless-steel surface with a steel wool sponge or brush. This will leave behind hairline scratches or serious scrapes that can lead to rusting or staining, according to The Maids.


Bleach is often a go-to for disinfecting stainless steel appliances. However, this can stain the material. Look at the list of ingredients for sprays and cleaning solutions to ensure that bleach is not listed as one of the ingredients.

Abrasive cleaners, such as scouring powders, can scratch the stainless steel surface. These can also leave behind a residue that dulls the surface. Rinse the stainless steel appliance well and buff dry after cleaning to return the sheen if this occurs.

Stainless Steel Maintenance

Stainless steel facades can quickly become smudged by fingerprints, peppered with dots from the overspray from the ice and water dispenser and streaked with liquids that are pulled from the appliance. In this case, the appliance may not need sterilizing or sanitizing but just a simple swipe with cleaner.


For a quick clean-up of smudges and fingerprints, the experts at Consumer Reports suggest using a glass cleaner on the stainless steel. Spray it onto a soft cloth, not the appliance's surface, and wipe away smears for a flawless finish.

Cleaning the stainless steel surfaces once a week with a soft cloth dipped in warm, sudsy water should keep it in good condition and relatively stain free.

Disinfecting Stainless Steel Appliances

After cleaning the stainless steel appliances, they can be further sterilized with isopropyl, or rubbing alcohol. Pour the rubbing alcohol into a spray bottle and cover the surface with a fine mist of the natural cleaning solution. Allow this to sit on the surface for 20 minutes.


Dip a clean cloth into the rubbing alcohol and wipe down the appliance a second time. Make sure to get into crevices and handle nooks where bacteria can thrive. Buff dry to a high shine.

A good commercial stainless steel cleaner works well on truly grimy surfaces. With these cleaners made specifically for stainless steel, you can clean confidently knowing that the solution won't dull, streak or damage the stainless steel surface.

Sterilizing Stainless Steel Utensils

Stainless steel forks, knives, spatulas and whisks may need a good sterilizing in a busy kitchen. A trip through the hot water in a dishwasher is often enough to sterilize stainless steel utensils. They may also be cleaned by rubbing them down with a soft cloth dipped in rubbing alcohol.


After sanitizing a utensil, the utensil should be returned to a clean drawer or basket. Make sure to wipe down and disinfect the utensil tray, holder or the interior of the drawer with warm, sudsy water and allow to dry thoroughly before returning the utensils.



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