Cleaning Guides

How to Clean Stainless Steel Cutlery

Nice music, delicious food and a cosy atmosphere are essential to a delightful dinner gathering. However, serving with grubby knives and yucky forks might put the party to its end.

Table of Contents:

You might find this article useful if you:

  • Want to make your cutlery bright and shine again
  • Are a house-proud host who doesn’t want to let his guests down
  • Struggle to breathe new life to grandma’s flatware
  • Simply want to learn some handy housework tips

Understanding Stainless Steel Cutlery 101

Stainless steel cutlery manufacturers use an iron alloy containing at least ten per cent chromium. This brings on a durable, high-quality metal, resistant to bending, snapping and warping.

Today, three types of stainless steel flatware are available over the counter: 18/10, 18/8 and 18/0. The numbers show the percentage of chromium and nickel contained in stainless steel alloy. The first digits refer to the chromium content, responsible for the rust-resisting properties of the tableware, while the second ones refer to the nickel content, which gives the utensils the silver-like shine and finish.

Your favourite flatware set may appear stylish and shiny now, but let’s weed the pipe dreams out. With time and use stainless steel cutlery is bound to dull and tarnish. And yes, dishwashers take part in the dicey game too.

You’ve already spent a small fortune on a silverware set – do you really want to risk ruining it in the dishwasher? Is the small dishwasher-safe sticker trustworthy-enough for you to put the stainless steel cutlery in jeopardy?

Are Dishwashers Safe for Stainless Steel Cutlery?

“Better safe than sorry”, people say. The same goes for cleaning stainless steel flatware. If you yearn to preserve your silverware’s top-notch look, keep dishwashers at bay.

Stainless steel is known to resist corroding in damp environments on behalf of the inert surface film of chromium oxide, formed by the alloy. Being a peculiar barrier, chromium oxide’s role is to protect the metal beneath it from oxygen assaults. And to put the cherry on top – it self-heals when grazed. However, stainless steel does corrode under exposure of harsh acids or base solutions.

While most forks and spoons have the perfect corrosion resistance, knife blades are often made out of different, harder steel, giving them a lasting edge. On the downside, durable knife edges are prone to rust, especially after repeated washing in a dishwasher. Apart from that, sharp blades could dull in the appliance as they get bumped into other plates or against racks during the wash cycle.

If you opt for a machine wash after all, here are some smart tips to follow and prolong the lifespan of your stainless steel flatware:

  • Avoid harsh detergents, strong bleaching agents and abrasive cleaning aids and tools – they could strip the chrome composite layer of the silverware and make the surface look cloudy and scratched;
  • Keep cutlery dry – if left in the dishwasher for long, moisture (or the acids from food residue) can erode the finish of the pieces, bringing them to pit and rust;
  • Rinse the utensils off before you load them in the dishwasher – acidic and salty food residue could tarnish your silverware set, setting unsightly black smears on the pieces.
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How to Clean Stainless Steel Cutlery with Natural Remedies

Over time, your silverware might become tarnished or streaky due to the constant contact with food and prolonged exposure to heat and moisture. And, one day or another, it will dull, be sure of that. Brace yourself and learn how to take proper care of your flatware before it’s too late.

Believe it or not, cleaning stainless steel cutlery could be child’s play. Simply mix the right ingredients and follow the steps strictly.

How to Remove Stains From Stainless Steel Cutlery with Vinegar

Owing to its mild acidity, white vinegar works wonders cleaning and polishing stainless steel pieces. Here is exactly how to brighten up yours:

  1. Dampen a clean cotton cloth with white vinegar and gently rub away dirt and tarnish.
  2. Apply more vinegar if needed and give the silverware another scrub.
  3. Rinse the utensils under hot water.
  4. Hand dry with a clean and soft towel to remove any watermarks. 

Vinegar is like the Swiss army knife of DIY cleaning solutions. From an unmatchable carpet cleaning remedy to homemade window cleaner, vinegar is cherished for its versatile use. Tackling a stainless steel sink? Vinegar does that trick as well! Learn How to Clean a Stainless Steel Kitchen Sink in our blog post.

While the cleaning spree is on, make sure you’ve got all bases covered and follow our Fantastic Kitchen Cleaning Checklist.

How to Clean Stainless Steel Cutlery with Lemon Juice

Like vinegar, lemon juice is an unbeatable natural acid to remove heat stains and streaks from stainless steel silverware. The process is similar to the previous one:

The process is similar to the previous one:

  1. Find a clean cloth and moisten it with freshly squeezed lemon juice.
  2. Rub and scour the utensils until all blemishes are gone.
  3. Repeat the procedure if any stubborn smudges don’t come off.
  4. Once all stains are out, rinse clean and dry with a microfibre cloth.

Cleaning Stainless Steel Flatware with Baking Soda

This one is for the obstinate stains you just can’t seem to deal with. Bicarbonate of soda and regular dish soap make an efficient remedy to break up tough dirtiness and stubborn dark marks. Adhere to this simple trick and bring out the like-new shine in your utensils:

Time needed: 30 minutes.

  1. Craft the cleaning solution.

    Mix 1 tbsp baking soda and a few drops of dish soap in a small bowl. Both ingredients should form a thick paste.

  2. Apply the paste to the utensils.

    Use an old toothbrush and spread the paste over the cutlery. The goal here is to tackle one piece at a time. That way, you ensure nothing is missed and each and every spot of the utensils is coated with cleaning solution.

  3. Spot treat remaining stains.

    Yes, some stains may remain after the treatment. This is where vinegar (again) comes to the rescue. Remember, once you’ve managed to loosen tough blemishes, it becomes much easier to get them out in full. Scrub those away with a soft bristle brush and undiluted white vinegar.

  4. Rinse and dry.

    Now that tarnishes have been removed, all that’s left is a final clean-up. Rinse the flatware and wipe it down to absorb the excess moisture.

Don’t let the pieces dry on a dish rack, hand dry instead. This move prevents watermarks formation and gives the utensils a final polish.

How to Polish Stainless Steel Flatware

Has the cutlery lost its shine? Here is how to polish your stainless steel silverware and restore the initial look it had since you bought it.

  1. Prepare a solution of water and white vinegar in ratio 1 to 9 (9 tbsp of vinegar for each litre of water).
  2. Pour the mixture in a pan and place it on a stove. 
  3. Bring the solution to a boil and then soak the utensils in for 5 minutes.
  4. Allow the remedy to cool before taking the pieces out. 
  5. Rinse and dry as usual. 

Yes, it’s that simple – enjoy your gleaming and shiny flatware. 

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Let the Experts Bring out the Shine in Your Cutlery

Have a hard time cleaning your stainless steel cutlery or simply want to avoid the risk of ruining it? Why not leave your pricey tableware in professional hands?

The domestic cleaning experts we work with will make sure your treasured silverware set is squeaky-clean and stain-free. Not only that – they can also tackle any other areas of your property –  just include them in your priority check-list. With years of experience under their belts, the Fantastic regular cleaning professionals can cross out your house cleaning tasks on a weekly, fortnightly or monthly basis. 

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  • Keep stainless steel knives out of dishwashers and hand-wash them instead.
  • Pre-rinse spoons and forks made out of stainless steel before placing them in a dishwasher.
  • Vinegar, lemon juice and baking soda are irreplaceable natural remedies to clean out tarnished stainless steel cutlery.
  • Always hand dry the pieces from the tableware set after treatment to prevent spots from forming.


Did you try any of these methods? Did they work? Tell us in the comment section below.

Image source: Shutterstock / Svetlana Lukienko

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