Black stainless is the next big thing, or so appliance manufacturers say. It adds warmth to a kitchen, and smudges and fingerprints aren’t supposed to be a problem. That might not sound like a big deal, but it is if you’ve lived with a kitchen full of stainless appliances.

Over the past five years, stainless steel appliances have increased in popularity, according to Jill Notini, a spokeswoman for the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers. Stainless outsells white and black kitchen appliances, except for top-freezer refrigerators, which are usually white. Dishwashers, ranges, and bottom-freezer fridges boast the stainless look in a big way. 

And while these new appliances often have timesaving features, the time spent cleaning stainless can be a bit much. All those sticky fingerprints, smudges, spots, and streaks are hard to overlook. Your owner’s manual offers cleaning tips that are specific to your appliance. And here’s some advice on how to clean stainless steel appliances from Nancy Bock of the American Cleaning Institute.

Stainless Steel Cleaning Tips

It’s this easy. Dip a soft cloth in warm water mixed with a mild dish detergent. Wipe the surface, rinse the cloth and wipe again, then dry with a towel to prevent water spots.

Fingerprints, still? Spray a glass cleaner onto a soft cloth and wipe fingerprints away. But first check your manual.

Gently tackling tougher cases. To remove baked-on food and grease, make a paste of baking soda and warm water. Gently rub onto the surface using a soft cloth or sponge. Wipe with a clean wet cloth and towel dry. For scratches and stains, use a good stainless steel cleaner and apply to the area, following directions. Rinse with a clean damp cloth, then dry.

Off limits. Harsh abrasives, scouring powders, steel wool, bleach, and ammonia can damage the finish. Your manual or the manufacturer’s site may add to this list. Samsung, for example, says not to use grout cleaner on the tile floor in your kitchen if it contains muriatic acid. The fumes alone can harm the stainless finish of that expensive refrigerator.

To keep my new stainless range shiny, I use an all-in-one stainless cleaner and polish from time to time but draw the line at spending more time cleaning it than cooking with it. If all this sound too high-maintenance for you, see our ratings of dishwashers, ranges, and refrigerators and check out your other finish options, such as black stainless and that classic, white.