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The Expert-Approved Toothpaste Trick That Gets Scratches Out of Stainless Steel

Plus, how to avoid future scratches.

When it comes to appliances, stainless steel still ranks supreme, both for its aesthetics and durability. But if scratches are dulling the surface, they can quickly go from looking top-of-the-line to “has seen better days.” The good news? They are repairable! To learn just how to get scratches out of stainless steel, follow the expert tips we’ve gathered below.

What causes scratches on stainless steel?

The most common culprit: Cleaning supplies, says Eva Lorena, commercial kitchen consultant for Zanduco Restaurant Supply. “A lot of times scratches result after people break out steel wool or use an abrasive cleaning solution like a scouring powder or bleach when trying to clean the appliance, surface or sink. Sharp or metal kitchen tools used during the cooking process are another common offender.” Click to learn an easy way to clean stainless steel.

How to get scratches out of stainless steel: Scratched stainless steel kitchen counter

How to get scratches out of stainless steel

Regardless of what caused the scratches, you still want them gone. But first, before you begin, you’ll need to determine which direction the “grain” of the stainless steel is going in.

“Figuring this out is easy,” assures interior designer Chenise Hinds, senior contributor at Momooze home and lifestyle blog. “Just look closely at the appliance and you will see fine, brushed lines in the steel — they will either run vertically or horizontally. When you’re using any method to remove scratches on steel, you always want to rub with the grain, otherwise the patch that you scrub will be very noticeable.”

It’s also important to check the manual for your appliance to ensure the surface isn’t covered with a protective seal or coating, as it’s not recommended to use any of these methods in that case and instead contact the manufacturer or a repair professional.

But otherwise, once you’ve determined the direction of the grain, you can move on to the next steps.

For light scratches

“When it comes to small or shallow marks, you can attempt to buff them away using a microfiber cloth and a designated stainless steel polishing compound,” says Lorena. (Two to try: Parker & Bailey Stainless Steel Polish, or Zep Stainless Steel Cleaner. ) “You can also make your own compound by adding water to baking soda until it forms a paste. Buff the surface in the direction of the grain and repeat as needed until the scratches are no longer visible, then wipe with a damp cloth and follow up with a fresh dry cloth to avoid streaks.”

Another compound that’s been proven to work on minor scratches? “Non-gel toothpaste,” says Lorena. “You can even mix baking soda with it to increase its scratch-removing magic—just rub in the direction of the grain using a clean cloth, then wipe clean when done like above.” 

See the method, here:

For deeper scratches

“When it comes to more pronounced damage, you will want a plastic scouring pad or scrubby sponge and olive oil,” says Lorena. “You can also purchase a special kit for these scenarios, such as Scratch-B-Gone, which includes a polishing spray and a variety of grain pads to match different stainless steel surfaces. You want to again move in the direction of the grain — first use the scouring pad until you see the scratch disappearing, then use a clean cloth dampened in the olive oil or kit solution and rub until it fully disappears.”

You can find Scratch-B-Gone kits at most home improvement stores, or on Amazon.

You can also see how the kit works here:

As an alternate to olive oil, WD-40 has also been proven to work using the above method. Adds Hinds: “For deeper scratches, you can also gently buff using 400 grit sandpaper — you’re basically just scrubbing off microscopic layers of the steel until the scratch disappears.”

And finally: be patient! “Buffing out deeper scratches can take a while, but keep steady and resist the urge to rub in a circular direction, as this can result in discoloration on the appliance,” advises Lorena.

How to avoid scratching stainless steel

So now that you’ve restored your appliances’ luster, how can you keep it that way? “When cleaning stainless steel surfaces, use soft cloths or microfiber towels along with mild, non-abrasive cleaners made especially for stainless steel,” says Eli Cohen, kitchen installation expert for The ADU Guide.  Two cleaning products to try: Weiman Stainless Steel Cleaner or Sprayway Stainless Steel Cleaner.

White vinegar is also both effective and safe for steel surfaces — make a spray mixing equal parts white vinegar and water, and add a few drops of lemon essential oil for a pleasant scent and some antibacterial qualities.

Also, always follow the grain when cleaning, if not, you’re likely scratching it, cautions Queen of Clean.

Last, if you’re cooking or prepping on a stainless steel surface, either use plastic utensils or put a cutting board down first.

For more kitchen hacks, click through the links below!

How to Clean Your Kitchen Cabinets so They Shine Like New

Plumbers Weigh In: The Best Way To Remove Smells From a Kitchen Drain + How To Unclog a Slow-Draining One

How to Clean Nonstick Pans So They Last Longer + The Kitchen Staple That May Be Making Your Pans Even Harder To Clean

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