Pinbusted or Pintrusted: Clean Stainless Steel with Olive Oil

Photo: Kelly Knox

The first day with our shiny new stainless steel refrigerator, I stood and admired its gleam… for about 10 seconds, when my daughter ran straight to it and smacked two yogurty handprints on the door. Rather than shoo her away from every appliance in the kitchen until she turns 18, I decided to focus on a way to clean the stainless steel instead. To the pins!

Tips on Pinterest included specific stainless steel cleaners like Affresh or Weiman, as well as Pledge furniture polish or Windex glass cleaner wipes. As we already had some of the wipes, I gave one a shot, but no luck. The streaks and fingerprints still glared at me defiantly.

Plus, as the mom of a preschooler whose hobbies include touching every surface in the house, I preferred to try something more natural, and somewhat inexpensive. Many pins recommended olive oil to polish stainless steel, to my surprise, and so I decided to give it a shot.

It was difficult to work up the courage to smear olive oil on our aforementioned new appliances. What if it streaked? What if it went rancid and our fridge ended up smelling like the dumpster behind Carabbas? Then it occurred to me that I had the perfect test subject: our old, messy stainless steel trash can.

Photo: Kelly Knox

It’s not obvious to see in the photo above, but the stainless steel trash can looks brand new again. Olive oil acted as a polish, turning the entire surface a bit darker, and got rid of the smudges. It didn’t feel noticeably greasy, either.

Here are the steps for cleaning and polishing stainless steel with olive oil:

1. Clean the surface with a non-abrasive soap or baking soda and water.

2. Once the stainless steel is dry, rub in a small amount of oil with a soft rag. Go with the stainless “grain” and use some elbow grease to really work it in.

3. Wipe the stainless steel with a clean, dry rag or paper towel to remove excess oil and give it a little more shine. (Some walkthroughs mention an additional step of wiping it down with vinegar, which I didn’t do.)

My confidence boosted by the experiment on the stainless trash can, I tried the same steps on the dishwasher, which was in dire need of cleaning.

Photo: Kelly Knox

The water drips and fingerprints went away after the olive oil was applied. On the dishwasher, though, I didn’t get as much coverage as I did on the trash can, and there were some streaks.


Pinbusted or Pintrusted? Trusted, hesitantly. I’ll try this on the same surfaces again when they get full of fingerprints.

I will add a caveat, however: I’m still too chicken to try it on the refrigerator.

I’ve read about varying results when applied to stainless steel, probably due a “faux” stainless finish or a lower grade stainless steel. You may want to test a small corner or the side of the appliance before applying the oil on a large area.

Do you use olive oil on your stainless steel? Or do you have another trusted method?

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