We buy stainless steel appliances thinking it will last us a long time. When our refrigerators or stoves show signs of rust, we begin to wonder. Didn’t we choose stainless steel so it doesn’t rust? Hawaii’s high humidity can speed up the rusting process, BUT our weather is not the bad guy. Surprisingly - it’s the dirt, the grime...and improper maintenance.

With regular cleaning and proper care, you can preserve the life of your appliances. Fortunately, there are ways to remove rust and restore the health of your appliances. It’s better to start...before rust takes its course.


Take a few important precautions before cleaning. Remember to read the labels behind products and follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

  • Use stainless steel cleaners that contain oxalic acid. That sounds harsh, but oxalic acid is an organic compound from plants. Simple Green makes a stainless steel cleaner with natural ingredients. Bar Keeper’s Friend Soft Cleanser is another product that’s safe to use.
  • Wipe or scrub in the direction of the grain to prevent scratching the surface. You may not see the grain lines on some appliances. One way to find out is by rubbing a soft cloth horizontally and vertically on the surface. You should feel a slight “pull” when you rub against the grain.

Avoid steel wool or steel brushes (try a toothbrush). Small iron particles get clogged in the surface and causes rust. Sponges and plastic scouring pads make good cleaning companions. Soft cloths are gentler on stainless steel. If you take pride in your appliances - go with a lint-free material like microfiber.


  • Create a paste using 1 tsp. of baking soda and white vinegar. Apply the paste to the rusted area and let it sit for 2 to 3 minutes. Scrub the spot with a soft brush.
  • Saturate a cloth with white vinegar. Scrub the rust off in the direction of the grain. Wipe the surface with a wet cloth then dry with paper towel. Repeat the procedure if necessary.
  • Mix some baking soda and liquid dish detergent. Use a soft cloth with the mixture to rub the stain. After scrubbing, rinse the surface and use a dish towel or cloth to dry.
  • Sprinkle some salt to cover the rust. Squeeze lime over the salt until it is saturated. Allow the mixture to remain for 2 to 3 hours. Scrub the rust using the lime rind.
  • Make a paste using 1 tbsp. cream of tartar and a few drops of lemon juice. Smooth the paste onto the rust stain and scrub with a soft brush. Wipe off with a paper towel.
  • Pour some liquid detergent into a small bowl. Cut a potato in half. Dip the end into the detergent and rub the rusted area. Slice the top layer and re-apply the soap.
  • Soak tools, kitchen utensils, or other stainless steel items in a bucket or bowl of vinegar overnight. Scrubbing may not be necessary.

Want to know more about Stainless Steel?

Stainless steel appliances come with a protective layer made of chromium oxide. When the film breaks down, your appliances are prone to rust. Improper care can damage the protective layer. Oxygen and moisture attacks the exposed metal. The good part is that stainless steel self-heals. The protective layer quickly rebuilds itself with enough oxygen.

It’s good practice to regularly wipe down stainless steel with warm water and liquid detergent or a mild cleaner. Apply a coat of wax afterwards to protect the surface. Use a product specifically designed for stainless steel. Gel-Gloss Stainless Steel & Appliance Cleaner is a one-step product that cleans, protects, and shines.

Avoid water and other liquids in direct contact with your appliances. Moisture accelerates the rusting process. Hang only dry dish towels on your refrigerator, stove, or dishwasher. Thoroughly dry your stainless steel knives, cookware, and sinks with a soft cloth.

If you’re salting water in a stainless steel pot, throw in the salt when the water boils. Salt will cause pots to rust if the water is cold.

This blog is one of my shortest. However, the content contains all useful information. If you don’t own any stainless steel appliances, I am sure you have something in your kitchen made of stainless steel. I hope this blog helped you bring back the sparkle - or gave you a new insight.