How to Get Scratches Out of Stainless Steel Appliances

Stainless steel appliances add a modern, sleek look to any kitchen. However, they are prone to scratches and scuffs from daily use. While scratches on stainless steel appliances are inevitable, there are ways to reduce their appearance or remove light scratches entirely. With some effort and the right tools, you can keep your stainless steel appliances looking like new.

Cleaning and Polishing Stainless Steel Appliances

Regular cleaning and polishing is the first line of defense against scratches on stainless steel appliances. Here are some tips for keeping them looking their best:

Use a soft cloth or microfiber towel: Avoid abrasive cloths and sponges that can cause fine scratches themselves. Microfiber cloths trap dirt and grease without being rough on the surface.

Clean with mild soap and water: Everyday grease and fingerprints can be removed with a couple drops of dish soap in warm water. Avoid harsh chemical cleaners.

Rinse and dry thoroughly: It’s important to wipe away all soap residue and dry the surface completely to prevent water spots.

Polish occasionally: Use a stainless steel polish or cleaner monthly to maintain the shine and smooth texture. Apply polish in the direction of the grain.

Remove water spots: White mineral deposits from water can be removed with white vinegar. Pour some vinegar on a soft cloth and rub the spots gently.

Avoid steel wool: Though it may seem like a handy scrubber, steel wool can leave tiny scratches on stainless steel that dull the surface over time.

With regular gentle cleaning and polishing, you can help prevent light surface scratches from forming on your stainless steel appliances.

Removing Light Scratches

If you notice light scratches forming on your stainless steel despite your best cleaning efforts, try these DIY remedies first before tackling deeper scratches.

Baking Soda

The fine yet abrasive texture of baking soda can buff out minor scratches and blemishes. Mix a paste of baking soda and water, then use a soft cloth to rub it into the scratched areas using circular motions. Rinse and dry the appliance thoroughly afterwards.

Olive Oil

Surprisingly, a common kitchen staple like olive oil can make light scratches less visible. The oil helps fill in the thin scratched grooves visually. Simply put a small amount of olive oil on a soft cloth and rub it into scratched areas in the direction of the grain. Wipe away excess.

White Vinegar

White vinegar has natural acidic properties that can help break down metal oxide deposits in scratches to reduce their appearance. Dip a soft cloth in undiluted white vinegar and rub over scratches gently. Rinse with water and dry well afterwards.

Stainless Steel Polish

Specialized stainless steel polishes contain mild abrasives along with oils that work together to smooth over scratched surfaces. Use a soft cloth to rub the polish in the direction of the grain over scratched areas using circular motions. Remove residue and buff dry.

Glass Stovetop Cleaner

Many glass cooktop cleaners are formulated to not only clean but also eliminate light scratches. They contain cerium oxide or silicon dioxide for gentle abrasive buffing. Use a soft cloth to rub the cleaner over scratched areas, then rinse.

With any of these DIY methods, be sure to rub gently in the direction of the grain and avoid pushing deeper into the scratches. Light buffing over time can help minimize the look of fine scratches.

Repairing Deeper Scratches

If you have more noticeable or deeper scratches that don’t respond to simple buffing methods, you may need to employ more intensive repair techniques. Here are some options from DIY kits to professional repair services.

Scratch Removal Kit

For deeper scratches, a specialized scratch removal kit can help grind them down to be flush with the surface again. These kits contain buffing attachments for an electric drill along with compounds of varying grit for smoothing and polishing. Work carefully starting with a coarse compound and progressing to finer polishing paste. Thoroughly clean the surface afterwards.

Sanding Sponges

Very fine grit sanding sponges designed for metal can manually smooth deeper scratches. Gently rub the sponge over the length of the scratch to grind it down evenly without damaging the surrounding surface. Use a stainless steel polish afterwards to blend the sanded area. Check that you don’t make the appliance surface uneven.

Professional Refinishing Services

For severe scratches or gouges that remove the glossy finish and expose the core metal, professional refinishing may be needed. Reputable appliance repair technicians have commercial equipment to sand and re-brush stainless steel surfaces to a smooth, uniform finish. This full refinishing can help appliances look like new again.

Touch Up Paint Pens

For isolated deeper scratches that remove color enamel on appliances like refrigerators, touch up paint pens can mask the exposed metal. Carefully fill in the scratch and feather out the paint on the surrounding finish. Allow paint to dry fully before regular cleaning.

Be cautious not to try aggressive scratch removal on your own without experience. Seeking professional help is best for severe, deep scratches to avoid damaging the appliance further.

Preventing Future Scratches

Once you’ve addressed existing scratches on your stainless steel appliances, you’ll want to try preventing new ones. Here are helpful tips for scratch avoidance:

  • Use cutting boards and avoid cutting or chopping directly on appliance surfaces
  • Minimize use of abrasive pots, pans, and utensils that could scrape and scratch
  • Clean spills quickly to avoid residue buildup that can scratch when wiping away
  • Apply a thin layer of olive oil occasionally to provide lubrication that repels scratches
  • Affix felt or silicone pads to the bottom of objects that may slide over the surface
  • Consider applying a clear PPF (paint protection film) to act as an invisible shield
  • Position appliances strategically to avoid high traffic areas that increase chances of bumps
  • Ensure appliances are installed properly with sufficient clearance so vibrating against walls or cabinets is avoided
  • Keep pets’ nails trimmed to remove sharp points that can scratch when jumping up

With extra care and preventative measures, light scratches can be avoided to maintain flawless stainless steel finishes. But when scratches inevitably do occur, use the tips in this guide to improve the look of your stainless steel appliances.

FAQ About Removing Stainless Steel Appliance Scratches

How can I get small scratches out of my stainless steel refrigerator?

For light surface scratches on a stainless steel refrigerator, gently rub with a soft cloth and baking soda paste using circular motions. Also try buffing with olive oil. For deeper scratches, use a stainless steel scratch kit, sanding sponge or professional refinishing.

What is the best scratch remover for stainless steel appliances?

Top-rated scratch removers for stainless steel appliances contain abrasives like cerium or aluminum oxide to gently smooth surfaces. Brands like Cerama Bryte, Zephyr and 3M make well-reviewed stainless steel scratch removing polishes. Always rub in the direction of the grain.

Can car polish remove scratches from stainless steel?

Yes, since car polish contains very mild abrasives along with wax and silicone for buffing, it can minimize the appearance of fine scratches on stainless steel when rubbed in carefully with a soft cloth. Avoid wax-based polish.

What is the best homemade scratch remover for stainless steel?

Baking soda mixed with water into a paste makes an effective homemade scrub for reducing the look of surface stainless steel scratches. Also try rubbing scratches with white vinegar. Be sure to rub gently in direction of the grain and avoid pushing deeper into scratches.

How do you buff out scratches on stainless steel?

Use a soft cloth to gently rub a stainless steel polishing paste or compound into the scratch using small circular motions. Start with a coarse polishing compound first, then follow with a finer grit polish to blend and smooth the area. Clean away all residue. Rubbing gently prevents worsening the scratch.

Can you remove scratches from stainless steel countertops?

Yes, the same methods that work for stainless steel appliances can remove or reduce scratches on countertops. Fine scratches can be buffed out using baking soda, olive oil or glass cooktop cleaner and a soft cloth. Deeper scratches may need sanding, refinishing or professional repair.

How can I fix scratched stainless steel rails on my refrigerator?

For scratched refrigerator door rails, rub with non-wax polish in the direction of the grain to blend out light scratches. For deeper scratches, carefully sand using 400 grit wet/dry sandpaper followed by finer grit, then polish. Avoid over-sanding which can damage the brushed finish.

Should I use steel wool to remove scratches from my stainless steel oven?

No, avoid using steel wool on stainless steel appliances as it can leave tiny scratches. For light oven scratches, gently rub with a soft cloth and baking soda paste instead. For deeper scratches, try a specialty scratch remover kit or professional refinishing.

How do I get rid of scratches on my stainless steel dishwasher front?

First try cleaning your dishwasher front gently with dish soap and water to remove any residue making scratches appear worse. For light scratches, rub with non-abrasive ceramic cooktop polish using a soft cloth and circular motions. For deeper scratches, professional refinishing may be needed.


While stainless steel is prone to scuffs and scratches with daily use, there are many effective options from DIY methods to professional services that can return your appliances to a pristine, scratch-free finish. With the right gentle cleaning approach and scratch repair techniques, light surface marks can be erased and deeper gouges smoothed over to restore a uniform polished look. Just be sure to always rub in the direction of the grain and start with the least invasive method, then progress to more aggressive scratch removal only as needed. With some patience and effort, your stainless steel appliances can shine like brand new again.