The Secret Ingredient That'll Make Your Stainless Steel Shine Like New

When you walk into your kitchen, the sleek stainless steel appliances probably still make it feel futuristic and luxurious. But when you first pictured your dream kitchen, it likely didn't include the charming but slightly grubby reality of fingerprints over every appliance you've touched. The "stainless" in stainless steel might be optimistic since we get our paw prints all over it, but it can still look great with regular cleaning and buffing. To de-smudge and bring your steel appliances to a gloss, a secret ingredient we like for maximum shine is fractionated coconut oil.

There are at least a dozen unique household uses for coconut oil besides beauty and cooking applications. Not sure what "fractionated" coconut oil means? It's still what you know and love, but fractionating it removes the lauric acid. That's the stuff that stiffens up coconut oil during cooler nights or when the house is at or below room temperature. Getting rid of lauric acid keeps coconut oil in a constant liquid state, and that's what allows for additional uses around the home. You wouldn't want to scoop out a glob of white, hardened coconut oil and try to polish anything with it — it would leave little chunks behind and be harder to manage.

Coconut oil buffs stainless steel to a high shine

Stainless steel appliances have a grain. If you inspect your fridge, for example, you'll notice the fine lines of a grain pattern all going in one direction. Whether you're in clean mode or shine mode, rub your cloth in the direction of the grain, not against it. Note that the handles or door pulls might have a different grain direction than the body of the appliance.

Although some suggest cleaning or buffing with a paper towel, we don't recommend this. Paper towels have a tendency to leave lint in their wake. They also are abrasive and not recommended for many delicate items, including steel. Once you've got your fractionated coconut oil, make sure you have a couple of microfiber cloths on hand for this job. The soft material works well and won't streak or scratch.

Buffing should be a lovely reward after cleaning your fridge or toaster. Domestic goddess Martha Stewart's stainless steel cleaning secret is Windex, but once you're done cleaning with whatever you like to use and it's dry, apply coconut oil to the cloth. Rub it liberally in the direction of the grain, not in circles. It's important to use a second, clean cloth to bring out the shine. This removes excess oil and will reduce future fingerprint smudges and spots from water droplets.