The U.S. is the world’s number one importer of steel, and alloy steels can be divided into four classes: structural steels, tool and die steels, magnetic alloys, and heat-resistant and stainless steels. Ironically, stainless steel products aren’t actually all stainless after all.

Stainless Steel Kitchen Appliances... Not as Stainless as You Thought

According to Consumer Reports, stainless steel appliances can not only stain, they can rust, too. Tiny spots or streaks of rust can appear on the stainless steel finish of your favorite kitchen appliances, impairing their smooth and silvery look.

Stainless steel is an iron alloy that contains chromium, which includes other elements like nickel, making it possible for stains and rust to occur.

“The chromium in stainless helps form an invisible layer on the surface that prevents moisture from reaching the iron,” said Austin Wilde, senior manager of supplier quality stainless steel at GE Appliances. “If this layer is breached or degraded to the point where moisture reaches the underlying steel, rust will occur.”

According to a recent homeowner survey, approximately two-thirds of consumers are planning on renovating their homes at some point in the near future. Kitchen renovations are some of the most popular home improvement tasks, and upgrading to stainless steel appliances is a typical first step.

Make sure to properly budget for these products, though, since stainless steel appliances aren’t always the cheapest products on the market. They can and will look terrific if taken care of properly, so make sure you’re handling your stainless steel products carefully, whether you’re renovating, moving into a new place, or just cleaning up around your kitchen.

“A full kitchen package can run anywhere from $2,000 to upward of $50,000, so the style and brand of appliance depends on your budget,” said Ben Pugliares, manager of major appliances for Wayfair. “Generally, you should expect to allocate between 15% and 25% of your total kitchen renovation budget on appliances.”

Be careful cleaning your stainless steel products, though, because some of the cleaning products on the market can actually cause the invisible layer to degrade.

“Cleaners with high amounts of bleach can cause corrosion, especially in crevices where cleaner can become trapped and remain in contact with the stainless for a long period of time,” added Tracy Rock, an engineer for KitchenAid.

Here are some cleaning products that actually can effectively wipe away all those unwanted stains across your stainless steel appliances:

  1. Steam Cleaner — Steam can be great for getting surfaces clean and sanitized. Unlike chemicals, steam doesn’t leave any residue behind and won’t harm pets or kids.
  2. Olive Oil — Olive oil is great for getting all those unwanted fingerprints and small stains off your stainless steel products. Simply put a small drop of olive oil on a piece of paper towel and buff it out.
  3. Corn Starch — Corn starch is a great natural way to clean a variety of products. It can lift dirt and grime from surfaces and eliminate lingering odors found within a kitchen.
  4. White Vinegar — White vinegar can help remove water spots, mineral deposits, and other grime on kitchen fixtures and appliances.
  5. White Chalk — Oil spills and splatters can harm a product’s appearance, and white chalk can help remove them, though you’ll likely have to wash and dry the surface immediately afterward.

Do you have stainless steel appliances? Tell me your thoughts!