How to Polish Stainless Steel

Many of us have stainless steel items in our homes. From the kitchen to the bathroom and sometimes even in the bedroom, stainless steel is all over the place. Because of this, it’s vital that we know how to polish stainless steel so that our rooms look fresh. Thankfully, it’s an easy process and you don’t have to put a lot of time, cost, or energy into it.

How to Polish Stainless Steel

What makes Stainless Steel “Stainless?”

Stainless steel is a very unique substance that is resistant to corrosion and staining. It actually has a very interesting history that involves an attempt to improve weaponry.

In 1913, an English metallurgist (metalworker) named Harry Brearly was trying to improve rifle barrels. In the process, he was adding chromium to low carbon steel and discovering that the new alloy was actually stain resistant. Over the years, this advancement has added some other elements, including the following:

  • Iron
  • Carbon
  • Chromimum
  • Nickel
  • Niobium
  • Molybedenum
  • Titanium

Some of these elements were added to enhance the corrosion resistance that stainless steel naturally has.

The most interesting addition to stainless steel is that of the 12% chromium. Chromium is one of the ingredients added to help with corrosion in general, but that amount of chromium is what makes it rust resistant, which means stainless steel stains less than other types of steel. Chromium combines with the oxygen in the air to create a passive film that sits on top of the steel and stops the oxygen and water from eating away at the metal.

Uniquely enough, this chromium also makes sure that, if the stainless steel gets cut or scratched, that more of the film will form and “save” the exposed surface from rusting and becoming more damaged. Now, that means that stainless steel will have problems in environments with lower oxygen levels (think higher elevations) and areas with poor air circulation.

You should also avoid putting stainless steel in salt-water or sea water. The salt content in these waters will eat away at the oxide layer more quickly than the oxygen can correct it, so that means that you start to see rust, corrosion, and other issues. So, even though the name of the steel is “stainless steel,” it’s not so much stainless as it is stain resistant. 

How to Polish Stainless Steel

Polishing stainless steel is rather simple and can leave everything in your home looking nice and clean. Pots, pans, the sink, and a variety of other items can be polished using this method without worry of contaminating them.

What you will need:

  • Baking soda
  • Water
  • Soft cloths
  • Flour
  1. First, make a paste of baking soda and water.
  2. Clean the item that you are cleaning (sink, pots and pans, etc) by scrubbing it gently and rinse the paste away from the item or area.
  3. Dry the area or item off completely; there can be absolutely no moisture before you start the next step.
  4. Take about ¼ of a cup of flour and shake it all over the area or item that you are polishing. Allow the flour to sit for five minutes.
  5. Then, take another soft cloth and buff at the item or affected area using the flour. Repeat steps 4 and 5 until your sink appears to be glistening clean.
  6. Take another dry towel and wipe out the leftover flour.

As you can see, it’s incredibly easy. You also don’t have to get any special polishes or solutions to polish your stainless steel – you can do it just by taking common items from around your home and using them to your benefit.