Olive Oil Is Great For Cleaning Stainless Steel

Nothing says sleek and modern quite like a kitchen decked out with stainless steel, but maintaining its pristine appearance can be a real pain. In addition to normal kitchen maintenance like scrubbing your wood cutting boards, dusting hard-to-reach areas, and cleaning your stove's grates, your stainless steel needs some TLC too. Refrigerators, dishwashers, range hoods, and small appliances are like magnets for fingerprints, water spots, smudges, and other unsightly marks. While there are plenty of potential solutions to the (not so) stainless steel dilemma, including soapy water, glass cleaners, and specialized stainless steel sprays, not all of these methods are effective.


A better solution may be hiding right under your nose, or more specifically, in your pantry. Although it might sound counterintuitive to use oil to clean up grime, olive oil works like a charm in this regard. Buffing a small amount of this pantry staple into stainless steel restores its shine, and as a bonus, it also forms a protective barrier to shield it from future messes. The reason has a lot to do with the structure of steel.

Why olive oil works wonders on steel

Despite its name, stainless steel can get pretty dirty, especially when your kitchen sees a lot of traffic. To understand why, you might need a microscope, but a little bit of background knowledge will also suffice. Although stainless steel appears smooth and shiny on the surface, it contains microscopic irregularities and a subtle grain (which you can see with the naked eye), where dirt and grime can accumulate.


Applying olive oil to stainless steel works similarly to using cooking oil in a pan — it forms a thin, protective layer that smooths out irregularities, keeping oils and other materials from sticking. Because of the grain structure in stainless steel, this process works best when the oil is applied with the grain. It's also important to note that you won't need your finest extra-virgin olive oil for this process either, other olive oils will do, as will mineral oil or almond oil.

How to use olive oil for a streak-free shine

To get the best results from your olive oil cleaning, you'll have to take a few preparatory steps, but nothing too complicated. You'll need dish soap, water, olive oil, and a few microfiber cloths, although a soft towel or rag will also do, as long as they're not scratchy. Start by dampening the cloth and adding a bit of dish soap to it, then use it to wipe down your stainless steel surface and remove any heavy grime. Then, dry the surface thoroughly with a clean, dry cloth. Afterward, dab a small amount of olive oil — a little goes a long way — onto a clean cloth, and gently buff it into the surface, making sure not to leave any excess oil.


This method doesn't have to be limited to big appliances like fridges and dishwashers, you can also use it to bring back the luster of stainless steel pots and pans, silverware, and faucets. However, be careful not to try this on appliances that reach high temperatures that could bake on excess oil, and avoid using abrasive scrubbers, which can create more imperfections on the steel's surface. Save yourself a trip down the cleaning aisle and stick with the all-natural buffer nestled in the baking section.