Removing Stains From Stainless Steel Flatware

Richard Kalinowski

Despite the misleading name, stainless steel can become stained over time. Flatware is especially vulnerable to staining, since oily fingerprints are a big contributor to metallic stains. Furthermore, dishwater can leave troublesome calcium-based spots on flatware.

Other kitchen products to keep an eye on are stainless steel refrigerators and stoves. It’s obviously an unappetizing sight to see stains all over kitchen utensils, so make sure stainless steel upkeep is part of your regular cleaning regimen. Don’t put off stainless steel cleaning; if you let the stains sit, they will be harder to remove in the long run.


Thoroughly wash with soap and water to remove any leftover residues. Never mix ammonia-based cleansers with bleach.

  1. Wash stainless steel flatware with hot water and dish soap. This is the easiest method but also the least effective.

  2. Apply olive oil to a washcloth and wipe remaining surface stains. Olive oil will mix with fingerprint residue for easier cleaning.

  3. Scrub any remaining, stubborn stains with a sponge dipped in an alkaline cleaning solution, such as baking soda or ammonia. Alkaline solutions break down water spots, often the hardest stains to remove.

  4. Use a rust-fighting product with oxalic acid as a last resort. In a "Seattle Times" article, Martha Stewart recommends this method, but going with such a strong cleanser should only be attempted if other methods do not work.

  5. Repeat Step 1 to ensure that the alkaline cleanser is completely washed off. You don’t want to take any chances, especially with flatware.