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Stainless steel appliances remain popular in American kitchens. In fact, stainless appliances outsell white and black kitchen appliances, with dishwashers, ranges, and refrigerators boasting the stainless look in a big way. (One exception is the top-freezer refrigerator category—most of those sold are white.)

"Stainless appliances have increased in popularity over the past six years," says Jill Notini, spokeswoman for the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers.

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But there is a downside to some stainless steel appliances: They're like magnets for fingerprints, smudges, water spots, and streaks. That means a lot of cleaning time to keep your appliances looking their shiny best. I know how much work it takes firsthand: I have to regularly clean my stainless steel range with an all-in-one stainless cleaner—though I draw the line at spending more time cleaning the range than cooking with it.

The Basics on Cleaners for Stainless Steel
Avoid using harsh abrasives, scouring powders, steel wool, bleach, and ammonia, all of which can damage the finish.

Always check the owner's manuals and manufacturers' websites for other cleaners to avoid. Some manufacturers advise against using glass cleaner on stainless steel, for example. And Samsung even recommends you not use a grout cleaner with muriatic acid on the tile floor in your kitchen because the fumes from the grout cleaner can harm stainless steel appliance finishes.

Here's more advice on how to clean stainless steel appliances from Nancy Bock of the American Cleaning Institute.

If you're shopping for new kitchen gear, see our buying guide and ratings for 
dishwashersranges, and refrigerators.

Stainless Steel Cleaning Tips

Step 1: 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.

Step 2: If you still see fingerprints, spray a glass cleaner onto a soft cloth and wipe fingerprints away. 

Step 3: 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 stainless steel cleaner and apply to the area, following directions. Rinse with a clean damp cloth, then dry.

Shying Away From Stainless?
If having to clean stainless steel lacks appeal, check out other finish options, such as that classic, white.