How to Clean Stainless-Steel Cutlery

How to Clean Stainless-Steel Cutlery

Stainless-steel cutlery is known for its durability, shiny appearance and general resistance to stains, which is why it’s a fan favourite with homeowners in the UK.

There is one tiny issue, though. And that is, after a while, the cutlery starts to lose its shine and gets duller and tarnished.

This is typically due to general wear and tear because the items are used daily.

So, how do you clean your stainless-steel cutlery and prevent it from losing its sleek appearance?

Read on to learn how to wash and maintain your cutlery, so you get years of use out of a single set!


Cleaning Brand-New Stainless-Steel Cutlery

When you first open your box of stainless-steel cutlery, you’ll be tempted to use the knives and forks immediately. But stop and re-think this idea!

There will be many germs and residues (from the manufacturing process) left on the surface of your cutlery, and you need to clean them off before you start eating!

To clean stainless steel cutlery for the first time, you can wash them in hot soapy water. You can use a mild cleaner, like washing-up liquid, to carry out this first clean, as it won’t damage the steel surface.

You should avoid using scouring tools, like steel balls and hard-bristled brushes, to clean steel cutlery because you could scratch the surface.

In addition, don’t use chemical-laden chemicals, like bleach, to clean your spoons, knives and forks!

When you’ve soaked and tended to each item, you can hold every item under the hot water tap to rinse the suds off.

You should then dry each piece with a soft, lint-free cloth (won’t leave fibres on the cutlery). Just make sure you dry between the fork’s tines, as you don’t want water resting there. 

If you don’t dry your new cutlery properly, you’ll end up with lots of little water marks all over them. These blemishes will make the cutlery look dirty, even though they’ve been cleaned!

After you’ve done this, you can store the cutlery ready for use.


Cleaning Stainless-Steel Cutlery That’s Used Every Day

Stainless steel cutlery in drawer

Washing your stainless-steel cutlery after every meal is essential! You don’t want to leave food residue on the steel surface as this can make the piece look grotty, can stain it, and in some cases, tarnish it.

Plus, hardened grime is usually tricky to remove – so why put yourself through this hassle?

Option 1: Washing-up liquid and water

To clean your cutlery daily, use warm water and washing-up liquid and soft cleaning tools. (You can follow the steps above to carry out the washing).

Just remember to clean your cutlery as soon as possible – don’t leave it hanging around when it’s coated in acidic food and salty ingredients.

And remember to dry your cutlery with a lint-free cloth, like a microfibre one, after washing it so you don’t get water stains on your knives and forks.


Option 2: Dishwasher

Note: It is possible to wash most stainless-steel cutlery sets in a dishwasher, but you should always check the care instructions just to make sure!

Throwing all your dishes, glasses and cutlery into a dishwasher seems like a time-saving plan, but you may be doing your dishes more harm than good by doing this.

You should, instead, spend a few minutes cleaning the gunk off the items before popping them into the machine.

When it comes to stainless-steel cutlery, you should wash them quickly under the warm water tap with some washing-up liquid, rinse the suds off and pop the pieces into the dishwasher.

This small action can stop food from building up in the nooks and crannies, and it also means that your dishwasher cleans your cutlery correctly because you’ve removed the toughened grime from it.

When loading your stainless-steel cutlery into the dishwasher, make sure that you spread your items out so that the items don’t clump together.

For example, don’t put all your spoons in one place because they might end up resting up against each other and won’t be cleaned properly.

After loading up the dishwasher, add your cleaning solution, choose an appropriate cycle, and start the wash!

At the end of the wash cycle, check your stainless-steel cutlery. If the pieces are clean, you can remove them, dry them with a soft cloth to remove tiny water droplets or heat streaks (do this even if they’re touch-dry coming out of the machine), and pop them away.

If the items are still dirty, run them through an additional cycle, and then check, dry and store them.

Tip: If you want to polish or remove streaks from your stainless-steel cutlery, rub a little olive oil/lemon oil onto the surface, and buff it with a soft cloth. Alternatively, you could buy an off-the-shelf polisher (adhere to the instructions on the packaging).


Cleaning Stained and Tarnished Stainless-Steel Cutlery

cleaning tarnished stainless steel cutlery

As you use your stainless-steel cutlery, it will become less shiny and start to look a tad aged, but you can rectify these issues by carrying out the recovery methods below:

Option 1: Bicarbonate of soda and washing-up liquid

In a shallow bowl, pop a small amount of bicarbonate of soda and a few blobs of washing-up liquid.

Mix the two products using a small tool like a toothpick until you get a paste-like consistency (add more bicarb/washing-up liquid as needed). 

Grab a soft toothbrush and pop some paste onto it, then carefully rub an even layer of paste into your stained stainless-steel cutlery.

Continuously rub the paste into the surface to dislodge any grime. It may take you a considerable amount of time to carry out this action on a single piece of cutlery, so allow yourself enough time to clean your whole set in this manner.

When all your cutlery is coated in the paste, you can rinse them clean using warm water!

If you can still see a build-up of dirt or tarnishing, don’t clean the paste off the cutlery.

Instead, fill a shallow bowl with white vinegar, dip your toothbrush into it and start rubbing each item’s surface again! This action will work out any remaining stains or tarnishing.

Once you’ve done this for every stainless-steel piece, you can rinse them clean under the warm water tap. Then dry them with a lint-free cloth.


Option 2: White vinegar

In a large bowl (think washing up bowl), mix eight parts of water with one part of white vinegar. Then add your stainless-steel cutlery to the liquid and allow them to soak for about 10 to 15 minutes.

When the timer rings out, empty the water away and start rinsing each piece of cutlery under the hot water tap.

Dry every single item straight away with a lint-free cloth. And then store your cutlery ready for use.


Option 3: Bicarbonate of soda

Fill a deep tray with water and add a teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda to it. Grab your cutlery and place it in the tray. (You can clean your cutlery in smaller batches if your tray is small!)

Allow the stainless-steel cutlery to soak in the mixture for at least 10 minutes, but up to 15 if need be.

When the timer rings out, remove one item at a time from the tray and hold it under the hot water tap so you can rinse the residue off. (Repeat for the rest of the items).

When you’re done, you will need to dry each piece with a lint-free cloth.


Option 4: Lemon juice

Fill a shallow bowl with lemon juice, and dip a soft cloth into the juice. Start to rub the juice onto the stainless-steel surface to remove the tarnish. Continuously rub the whole surface until the tarnishing has been removed.

When you’re done, hold each item under the warm water tap and rinse them clean. Then use a soft cloth to dry and buff the pieces to a shine.