When we remodeled our "forever" home, I insisted on stainless steel appliances. We were moving from an old farmhouse with ancient appliances that were white and run down. I wanted fresh, clean and modern. I watched all the home shows on television, so I knew that stainless was the way to go…or so I thought. Not one person warned me about cleaning them. Nobody told me that I'd clean them and somebody would open the fridge and BAM... fingerprints galore.
Oh, what a nightmare my first year was in my new kitchen. Yes, it was beautiful. I had every appliance I had ever dreamed of. Double ovens, a large stainless farm sink…the list goes on. It wasn't that I didn't love my new kitchen, it's just that I dreaded ever using it, because then I had to clean it. My poor husband was afraid to open the fridge, turn on the sink or go into the kitchen because I'd huff and puff and then go clean and polish those darn stainless steel appliances.
Fast forward 10 years: I've adjusted. I've lightened up. Two kids later, this mom doesn't have time to fret over a fingerprint. The kitchen has to function; we need to eat. I gave up the idea that my kitchen will look like those in the magazines. Those are staged. Nobody cooks in those kitchens! This means, I have lots of fingerprints now and don't jump up to catch one smudge. I deal with it.
I do, however, still clean and polish and desire a nice looking kitchen. I just don't do it daily. I also don't use all those terrible chemical filled products that I was tricked into buying 10 years ago when I was desperate to keep my brand new dream kitchen magazine worthy. Nope, I'm cheap. I'm sensible.
What do I use? How do I clean without the name brand products that promise to make life easy and clean your stainless steel products? Let me tell you my secret.
A citrus fruit of your choice, such as a lemon, lime or orange (whatever you have in your fridge) will work. Having gin and tonics? Clean your sink—you have a lime! The two go hand-in-hand.
The only other thing you need is baking soda. Yes, just two ingredients! Now what? Well, as you're sipping your gin and tonic, cut your lemon, lime or orange in half. Sprinkle baking soda into your sink.
Using your half-cut citrus fruit, scrub your sink and squeeze the fruit at the same time. Beware—if you have a cut on your hand it will sting, so you might consider plastic gloves.
After you've scrubbed your sink well with the citrus fruit and baking soda, rinse well with hot water.
Sprinkle the garbage disposal with baking soda, add a cup of ice and your used citrus fruit and turn the garbage disposal on with hot running water. Bam—your garbage disposal is clean and smells good too!
Dry your sink and it will be clean and shiny. Just don't let anyone else use it... ever!
Using hot, soapy water, I clean the fridge to get the grime, dirt and fingerprints off. Unfortunately, the soap and water will leave streaks, and you want the stainless steel to shine and be pretty (at least for five minutes). So what's the solution?
After you've cleaned the grime off the fridge, wipe it dry.
Dab a tiny (and I mean tiny) amount of olive oil onto your rag. A little goes a long way, so do not be generous with the oil.
Rub the rag over the appliance to polish it. Make sure you don't miss any spots. I like to start from the top and work my way to the bottom. You'll see that it is shiny and looks all pretty.
After you've polished your appliance with your rag that has olive oil on it, use another clean rag and rub the appliance again, removing any access oil. You don't want to leave your fridge oily—just shiny and polished.
Ta-dah! Your appliances are clean! Cut up another lime to enjoy, and don't let anyone use your kitchen (until, of course, they're starving and it's time to cook dinner!).
Photos by Sommer Poquette
Sommer Poquette is a green blogger and a mother of two who writes about her DIY cleaning tips for Home Depot. You can view all of Home Depot's stainless steel appliances, including refrigerators, at the Home Depot website.
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