September 28

Can You Use Windex on Stainless Steel – Yes, with Caution!

Written by: Nadia El-Yaouti

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Windex on windows does a fantastic job of wiping away streaks, stains, specs of dust, and any other imperfections that can collect on your glass. After all, isn’t the goal to have a window so clean that you don’t even know it's there?

Because Windex can be a versatile cleaner, it’s been asked a time or two, can you clean stainless steel with Windex? Today, we’re going to take a look at just that. We’ll also dive into some other alternatives to help you get that beautiful shine out of your stainless steel.

Windex, Broken Down?


windex

The magical blue cleaning solution is so powerful because it has an ammonia base. Ammonia helps to break down stains and evaporates quickly, leaving glass surfaces streak free. 

Windex creates that “I didn’t know there was a glass door there” effect that so many have fallen victim to.

The amazing cleaning power of Windex is also great as an all around household cleaner and degreaser. Because it can kill 99.9% of germs, viruses, and bacteria many people use it to clean countertops, door handles, and appliances. 

Can You Use Windex on Stainless Steel?


Windex can clean just about everything else in your home, so what should you do when it comes to your stainless steel?

Because Windex contains ammonia, many consider it to be a harsh cleaner. When used on its own, ammonia is extremely harsh on surfaces including stainless steel, but when diluted with water, it can be a powerful cleaning agent.

Still, it’s not recommended to use ammonia on stainless steel, and should always be approached with caution.

Many stainless steel appliances will also come with a warning to avoid using ammonia-based cleaners, as they can be harmful to your stainless steel’s surface.

How to Clean Stainless Steel using Windex


stainless-steel-cookware

The main concern with cleaning your stainless steel using Windex is that if left on for too long or not cleaned off properly, rusting can occur and the surface of your stainless steel can dull over time.

If you are going to clean your stainless steel with Windex, it's recommended that you lightly mist the surface, the way you would with window cleaning, and that you use a dry microfiber cloth to wipe it down. Go with the grain of the steel to completely wipe the Windex away. 

Another option to consider is cleaning your stainless steel with ammonia free Windex. Many prefer going this route because you get the same cleaning power without having to worry about the damage ammonia could potentially cause to your stainless steel. 

While Windex can be a powerful all-purpose cleaner, if you're worried about whether or not you should use it on your stainless steel, here’s some good news. There’s an array of natural cleaners that can be just as powerful on your stainless steel as cleaning with Windex.

Let’s take a look at some natural alternatives that you may want to consider instead. 

Great Alternative Cleaners for Stainless Steel


Sometimes with stainless steel, less is more. These simple and common household cleaners can work wonders on your stainless steel.

Baking Soda 

baking-soda-on-countertop

This common household staple is a great cleaner for your stainless steel because its basic nature works to dissolve stains, grease, and other messes coated onto surfaces. Plus, the particles are non-abrasive, meaning you won't scratch up the surface of your stainless steel during the cleaning process.

Vinegar 

vinegar-bubbling-in-glass

Vinegar is a powerful cleaner to use on your stainless steel because its acidic nature can break down hard minerals often found in your tap. Though it will leave your stainless steel with a streak free shine, be sure to wipe it off the steel entirely when you clean with it. Vinegar is acidic and can damage the surface of your steel if left on for too long or not wiped away thoroughly.

When you use vinegar with baking soda, you can create a powerful cleaning paste due to the chemical reaction that takes place. The acid in the vinegar helps to break down baking soda, which then releases carbon dioxide gas. This gas helps to lift up all sorts of stains including rust, grease, and burnt on food. This mixture is also great for cleaning a burnt stainless steel pan.

Bar Keepers Friend 

bar-keepers-friend

This nifty cleaner is great for tough jobs on stainless steel. Bar Keeper’s Friend is a bit more abrasive than baking soda, yet still soft enough that it won't scratch your stainless steel. The powerful oxalic acid in it helps to dissolve rust and lift up stains, grease, and other gunk.

Don't Clean Your Stainless Steel with These 


water-flowing-down-sink

Steel Wool or Steel Brushes

Steel wool or brushes can leave little particles behind on your stainless steel. These little particles can rust over time, causing vulnerable parts of your stainless steel to rust as well. Not only that, but these rough brushes can end up scratching the surface of your stainless steel appliance or cookware. To get rid of tough messes, use scouring pads, soft scrub brushes, and sponges instead.

Go with the Grain

Take a close look at your stainless steel and you’ll see that the surface has a brushed look to it with thousands of thin, barely visible lines. This is what’s known as your stainless steel’s grain. Whenever you are cleaning your stainless steel, go with the grain, not against it, in order to keep the natural finish and texture of your stainless steel intact.

Use Non-Abrasive Cleaners

Harsh cleaners like ammonia and bleach should not be used on stainless steel. They can stain and damage the surface. Harsh chemicals found in your tap water can also be harmful. If you do clean your stainless steel with tap water, be sure to dry it off completely to get rid of any moisture that could lead to rusting.

Concluding


While Windex is certainly a powerful cleaner to use around your house, you may want to skip it when it comes to cleaning your stainless steel. Try out some of the alternative methods we’ve covered above and let us know what you think about them in the comments section.

Cheers!

Nadia


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About the author

Nadia El-Yaouti is a postgraduate at James Madison University where she studied English and Education. She lives in Central Virginia with her husband and three kids. When she's not exploring new and improved ways of cleaning and organizing the kitchen on a budget, you can be sure to find her traveling the world with her little family.

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