How to Remove Scratches from Stainless Steel

Caroline Gilbert
Written by Caroline Gilbert
Updated September 17, 2021
Hands cleaning stainless steel kitchen appliances
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Sleek, modern, and functional—all the qualities that make stainless steel a top choice for appliances and kitchen accents. 

Despite all the pros, there’s one con to stainless steel that drives homeowners crazy—scuffs and scrapes. Fortunately, those scratches on your refrigerator don’t have to be permanent (yes, even the deep ones). All it takes is the right tools and a little elbow grease.

With a little help from this guide, your stove top, sink, and refrigerator door will look brand new in no time! 

Difficulty: Simple 1/5Simple and quick. Instructions are easy to follow.

Total Project Time: 1–2 hours

Cost: $50

Note: These methods will not work on coated stainless steel. Your stainless steel appliance may be coated if it is not magnetic. To know for sure, check with your manufacturer’s guide.

How to Remove Fine Scratches from Stainless Steel

Use this treatment method on smaller scratches. If these steps don’t work, you may be dealing with a deeper scratch that requires additional treatment. 

Tools for Fine Scratches:

  • Several microfiber cloths

Materials for Fine Scratches:

  • Bottle of stainless steel scratch remover solution, like Bar Keeper's Friend

  • Vinegar

  • Whitening toothpaste (optional)

  • Baking soda (optional)

1. Clean the Scratched Surface

Clean the surface area with diluted vinegar and an unused microfiber cloth to make sure all dust, dirt, food residue, and other stains have been removed. Be sure to completely rinse and dry the surface.

2. Determine the Direction of the Grain

Look closely at the grain for the stainless steel. Notice if it is going up and down or from side to side.

3. Apply Scratch Remover Solution

Add a dab of the stainless steel scratch remover solution to a clean microfiber towel. If you do not have access to scratch remover solution, you can also use whitening toothpaste or baking soda. If you’re using baking soda, just be sure to add water until it turns into a paste. 

4. Work Solution Into the Scratch

Rub the solution into the scratch, going in the same direction as the grain of the steel. 

5. Let the Solution Sit

Let the solution sit for about 5 minutes before using another clean microfiber cloth to wipe away the excess solution. If needed, repeat steps three through five until the scratch has been completely removed.

6. Clean Up

Remove any remaining solution and oil with diluted vinegar and a clean microfiber cloth.

How to Remove Deep Scratches from Stainless Steel

If the method above doesn’t work, you may be dealing with a bigger scratch that requires a little extra TLC. 

Note: The method to remove deep scratches from stainless steel has the potential to cause more damage if done incorrectly. If you don’t feel confident enough to tackle this job on your own, you may want to hire an appliance repair professional who has experience with the process.

Tools for Deep Scratches:

  • Abrasive pad or scouring pad—400 to 600 grit

  • Several microfiber cloths

Materials for Deep Scratches:

  • Rubbing compound, cooking oil, or purchase a stainless steel scratch removal kit, like Scratch-B-Gone

  • Vinegar

  • Cooking oil

1. Clean the Scratched Surface

As with smaller scratches, you will first need to use a clean microfiber cloth to wash the area with diluted vinegar. This will help to remove any dirt, dust, and food residue that may have built up on your fridge. Rinse and dry the surface completely.

2. Understand the Direction of the Grain

Look closely at the direction of the grain on your stainless steel surface. It will either be going up and down or side to side. 

3. Buff the Scratch

Once you know which way the grain is going, apply the cooking oil liberally to an abrasive or scouring pad. With moderate, even pressure, buff the scratch and surrounding area while only moving in the direction of the grain. 

4. Check Your Progress and Repeat

After buffing out the area thoroughly, step back and assess the scratch. Repeat steps three and four until the desired look is achieved. Consider moving to a finer grit pad and using more oil or more compound depending on the progress on the scratch. 

5. Clean Up

Once the scratch has been removed, use a clean microfiber cloth to buff out the same area. Repeat this step until the oil or compound is mostly gone. Remove any remaining dust and oil with diluted vinegar and a clean microfiber cloth.

Tips and Tricks

FIxing scratches on your stainless steel doesn’t have to be challenging. Here are a few other tips and tricks to try on your appliances. 

  • Can’t find a scratch removal kit? Whitening toothpaste works in a pinch.

  • Only buff scratches in the direction of the stainless steel grain, do not buff in a circular motion.

  • Maintain regular care by keeping your stainless steel appliances clean.

  • In lieu of olive oil, you can use other cooking oils such as canola oil, vegetable oil, or mineral oil.

  • Do not use bleach when cleaning stainless steel.

  • Take a hands-off approach and budget for professional appliance refinishing

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