You probably chose your stainless steel cutlery because of how it’s strong and doesn’t get damaged easily.

But, when you look at it and see that it’s become dull and stained, it can be disheartening. You might not even feel like using it.

Is stainless steel cutlery difficult to clean?

Some pieces of cutlery, such as knives, can be more difficult to clean because their knife blades are made of harder steel that is less resistant to corrosion.

Luckily, it’s not difficult to clean stainless steel cutlery so that it shines. In fact, you will be able to make your cutlery look good as new with some easy tips.

Here’s what you need to know.

Can You Use Your Dishwasher To Clean Stainless Steel Cutlery?

How To Clean Stainless Steel Cutlery

Since stainless steel is strong, it can safely be cleaned in the dishwasher.

However, you should follow some important tips otherwise you could damage your stainless steel cutlery.

  1. Never put your stainless steel cutlery in the dishwasher without first wiping away any food residue on it. Otherwise, you might find that food will remain stuck in it or caked on it, which will make it more difficult to clean. So, use a bit of dish soap to clean your cutlery before you put it in the dishwasher. Make sure you focus on cleaning any areas where food can get trapped.
  2. Choose the right wash cycle. While a normal cycle setting should be fine if your cutlery is not that dirty, you want to use a heavier cycle if it is very dirty and/or stained.
  3. Spread out the cutlery in the dishwasher. Bear in mind that some pieces of cutlery, such as spoons, could end up huddled together in the dishwasher which means that they won’t each get properly cleaned. It’s, therefore, a good idea to spread the cutlery pieces out so that all the individual pieces will be cleaned thoroughly.
  4. Bear in mind that you might have to use more than one wash cycle. This is because stainless steel can be a bit difficult to clean but it can also be the case if your dishwasher is old or your cutlery is very dirty.
  5. Make sure you never leave the cutlery in the dishwasher after a cycle has been completed. This is because moisture can accumulate on the cutlery, and this will damage its finish. The result is that your cutlery will look dull, pitted, or even rusty.

DIY Tips For Washing Stainless Steel Cutlery By Hand

Washing Stainless Steel Cutlery By Hand

As you can see from the previous section, washing your stainless steel cutlery in the dishwasher can be a bit of a time-consuming process.

It also uses a lot of water, especially if you have to put your cutlery through more than one wash cycle.

Therefore, you might wish to try some DIY methods for cleaning your stainless steel cutlery by hand. This is convenient because you can use ingredients you probably already have in your kitchen.

How To Clean Cutlery With Bicarbonate Of Soda

Cleaning Cutlery With Bicarbonate Of Soda

Bicarbonate of soda is an excellent DIY cleaner to use around the home.

Its granules work well to scrub items so that they can shine again.

To clean your stainless steel cutlery with bicarb, simply add it to a bit of liquid dish soap and stir it well so that it becomes a paste. Then, scrub the paste into any stained areas on the cutlery with a soft-bristle brush.

Another method for using bicarb soda to clean stainless steel utensils is to clean a whole batch of utensils, such as your spoons, together.

Here’s what to do.

  • Bring your kettle to a boil. While that’s happening, put a sheet of tin foil on the bottom of your kitchen sink. Make sure that the foil has its shiny side on top.
  • Then, place your cutlery onto the foil. Spread the pieces out and place them front-side up.
  • Sprinkle bicarb soda all over the utensils. You should put more in any areas where there are stains.
  • Pour a quarter-cup of white vinegar on top of the bicarb soda. You’ll see it get to work instantly as it foams up.
  • When the foaming stops, pour a cup of boiling water from the kettle over it. This further activates the vinegar and bicarb.
  • If the stainless steel utensils were very dirty, you will need to leave them in this water, vinegar, and bicarb soda solution for a few minutes.
  • When they look cleaner, hand wash them with a bit of water and liquid dish soap. Scrub them clean with a soft-bristle brush.
  • Rinse them well and then dry them by hand with a soft, dry cloth.
  • You might notice that your tinfoil is quite dirty after you’ve washed the stainless steel utensils on it!

How To Use Vinegar For Stubborn Stains

Cleaning Cutlery With Vinegar

Using bicarb soda once might not be enough to remove stubborn stains on your stainless steel cutlery.

This is why your next step should be to use vinegar. Put some undiluted white vinegar in a bowl and dip a soft-bristle brush in it.

Then, use the brush to gently scrub away any stains on the cutlery. Vinegar can also be used to polish your stainless steel cutlery because it brings out its sparkliness.

Don’t Forget To Rinse!

After cleaning your stainless steel cutlery with one or both of the DIY methods we’ve outlined, make sure you rinse them well to remove any bicarbonate of soda, liquid soap, or vinegar residue.

Take care to use a clean, dry dishcloth to dry the pieces properly and prevent them from getting water marks.

How Can I Remove Streaks In My Stainless Steel Cutlery?

Sometimes, despite your best efforts at washing and drying your stainless steel cutlery it still has streaks on it.

Why does this happen?

Streaking can be a result of stains but sometimes heat exposure can also cause it.

Luckily, you can eliminate these annoying streaks.

Here’s what you need to do.

  • Put some olive oil or mineral oil in a bowl and dip a soft rag or dishcloth into it.
  • Then, carefully rub the stainless steel cutlery with this cloth.

Another idea is to use lemon oil. This will ensure that the cutlery shines and it will also make it have a lemon scent, which is lovely. To use lemon oil, you will follow the same instructions mentioned above.

Extra Tips:

  • Make sure you’re careful when polishing your stainless steel cutlery with olive oil. This is because this oil can become rancid and leave behind an unpleasant odour during the warmer months. If you’re going to use it, don’t use a lot of it and avoid leaving any oil residue on the cutlery.
  • When drying your stainless steel cutlery or buffing it so that it will shine, you should use a lint-free or microfiber cloth that won’t cause streaks.

How To Polish Your Stainless Steel Cutlery

Polished Stainless Steel Cutlery

Sometimes you want to give your stainless steel cutlery extra polish.

But what polish should you use?

Vinegar comes to the rescue again! It’s an effective ingredient that polishes your stainless steel cutlery because of its acid content. Just make sure you use white undiluted vinegar.

When polishing your cutlery, it’s good to polish it in the direction of its grain. Although we usually talk about the grain of the wood, metal also has a grain. You will have to take a closer look at the cutlery in order to determine the direction of its grain, such as if it goes vertically or horizontally.

Once you’ve discovered the direction of the grain, make sure you rub the polish in that direction.

This is an important step to follow so that the cutlery will look its best.

Related Questions

Stainless Steel Cutlery on Wooden Board

Are products with micro-granules good for cleaning stainless steel?

If you want to purchase a product for cleaning your stainless steel cutlery, make sure that you avoid ones containing micro-granules as these can scratch the surface of the cutlery.

Can harsh cleaning agents ruin stainless steel?

Strong bleach-based or detergent products can remove the chrome composite layer of the cutlery and result in a scratched and/or cloudy appearance.


If you have a lot of stainless steel cutlery that’s looking dull and/or stained, chances are you’re keeping it out of sight instead of on display.

But no more!

After reading this guide on cleaning stainless steel cutlery, you will ensure that your cutlery sparkles and becomes a joy to use.


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