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Can You Use Windex on Stainless Steel?

Can You Clean Stainless Steel with Windex?

Are you wondering if you can use Windex on stainless steel appliances? Find out if you can use Windex to clean stainless steel surfaces.

Whoever named stainless steel ‘stainless’ obviously never owned any appliances in a household with toddlers or teenagers; finger smudges and watermarks stand out like lampposts on these reflective metallic surfaces.

There is an unending debate about whether Windex can be used to clean stainless steel, so we have taken an in-depth look into whether this is a safe option.

Windex does not recommend using their product for cleaning stainless steel. Windex contains ammonia. And repeatedly applying ammonia-based window cleaner to stainless steel can damage the glossy surface or encourage the development of rust.

A woman cleaning a fridge with text that says, "Can you use Windex on stainless steel" post.

No one loves cleaning the house, so you may be tempted to grab your trusty bottle of Windex to quickly restore the chic high-shine to your stainless steel appliances.

Let’s find out if this is a good idea or if there are better options to keep your shiny surfaces gleaming.

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Can You Use Windex on Stainless Steel Appliances and Surfaces?

Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should. Windex will undoubtedly quickly make your stainless steel products gleam, but it’s not the best choice for regular cleaning these surfaces.

Windex’s original, the light blue cleaner, is an ammonia-based formula. It is therefore classified as a harsh cleaning agent.

Stainless steel is a corrosion-resistant alloy of iron, so using any harsh cleaning agents on the shiny surface could ultimately leave unsightly stains or damage the surface of your appliance. Prolonged use of Windex may dull the finish or create a foothold for rust to set in.

There are quite a lot of differing opinions about the safety of Windex for use on stainless steel, so we have turned to the manufacturer.

The Windex website clearly indicates which surfaces their products are recommended for and safe to use on. Stainless steel is not listed for any of their extensive range of products.

So if the manufacturer won’t recommend their products to clean stainless steel, why is it so often used? Most of us want a reflective mirror-like shine on our stainless steel appliances, and Windex is a popular go-to glass cleaner in most homes.

We seem to associate the streak-free shine we get from Windex on glass mirrors and shower doors with the reflective surface of stainless steel, even though they are entirely different materials. Also, the non-scratch consistency of the liquid makes it a tempting cleaning option.

According to Consumer Reports, using Windex is a big no-no when it comes to cleaning stainless steel surfaces.

Any harsh chemicals like bleach or ammonia-based Windex can corrode the protective outer layer of chromium, which naturally occurs on stainless steel surfaces. Once it has worked its way into any crevices or cracks, the surface becomes vulnerable to rust.

If you must use Windex, try ammonia free Windex.

What to Use to Clean Stainless Steel Surfaces

Most stainless steel items come with a care guide, so chances are that there is a specific ‘best’ cleaner out there for the make and model of your appliance.

There are specific stainless steel cleaners that tick all the boxes for cleaning these metallic surfaces since they not only clean but usually also add a protective layer of mineral oil to protect the surface of the stainless steel appliance.

I personally like the Therapy stainless steel wipes, a solvent-free cleaner that uses coconut oil to clean and polish stainless steel surfaces.

But if you don’t have specific stainless steel cleaners available, there are a few better options than reaching for the Windex.

  • Wipe the stainless steel appliance with a few drops of mild dish soap mixed in warm water and apply with a soft cloth. Then rinse and dry.
  • Baking soda mixed in warm water. Spread it on, then rinse it off and wipe it dry with a soft cloth. Baking soda granules are non-abrasive, so it won’t scratch the stainless steel finish.
  • Water and vinegar mixed in equal parts is a great stainless steel cleaner. Wipe it on, rinse and dry with a microfiber cloth.
  • Occasionally, the easiest solutions are the best, and giving your stainless steel appliance a wipe with a damp microfiber cloth is usually all that is required for daily touch-ups.

Stainless Steel Cleaning Mistakes

There is plenty of info about what NOT to use to clean stainless steel and below are some of them.

Using Abrasive Cleaners and Tools

Everyone agrees that there are some hard no’s like scouring powders, steel wool, and sponges. This makes sense since they could scratch the shiny surface of the appliance.

Not Testing the Effect of the Cleaner on a Small Area Before Use

No matter what you decide to use to clean the stainless steel items in your home, always test the effects in a small inconspicuous area.

Avoid plunging right in with your stainless steel cleaning mixture, and start right in the front and center of your fridge door. Any scratches or undesired effects will be prominent, and you may need to cover the spot in kids’ artwork until they are in college.

Cleaning in Circles or Against the Surface Grain

Stainless steel looks metallic and shiny from a distance, but before you start cleaning, take a super close-up look at the steel grain of the fridge or dishwasher. The grain will appear as thin lines across the surface of the appliance.

When you are cleaning, don’t just rub around in circles; clean in the direction of the surface grain to get a more professional-looking finish.

Can You Use Windex to Clean Stainless Steel Surfaces? Conclusion

Windex is not a recommended cleaning agent to use on stainless steel. Since it contains ammonia, it slowly wears away at the metal’s surface layer, resulting in a lower gloss or even the emergence of rust over time.

However, if your mother-in-law is making an unexpected visit and you are doing an emergency clean up, and must use Windex, try using ammonia free Windex. Although Windex will not instantly corrode your appliances if used occasionally, I would still suggest you tread on the side of caution.

A microfiber cloth and a dab of mild soap are a far safer choice to keep your stainless steel appliances gleaming like new for years to come.

There you go, the answer to the question, can you use Windex on stainless steel appliances? Leave you comment below.

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