How to Clean Stainless Steel With Citric Acid


Stainless steel cleaners can be dangerous and highly corrosive. Famously known for being easy to clean and maintain, stainless steel usually only requires mild soap and warm water to clean but, through abuse or neglect, this versatile steel can become discolored or extremely grimy. When faced with tough stains, stronger cleaning methods are often sought. Citric acid is completely organic and found abundantly in lemons and limes. The British Stainless Steel Association advises that even in exceptional cases of burnt cookware or welding scorches, citric acid cleaners are just as effective as harsher chemicals and much less hazardous.

Things You'll Need

  • Citric acid (sold in grocery stores for canning)
  • Gloves
  • Hot water
  • I quart bowl
  • Warm water
  • Nonscratch scrub sponge
  • Dry soft cloth

Burned Pots and Pans

  • Boil 2 tbsp. citric acid in 4 cups hot water in the pan or pot.

  • Scrub with the sponge using gloves. Some elbow grease may be in order.

  • Rinse well with clean water. Wipe dry.

Hard Water Deposits

  • Dissolve 3 to 6 tbsp. citric acid in about 1 quart of warm water

  • Dip the cloth into the solution. Wipe down the area you want cleaned.

  • Rinse and dry. Rub with the cloth to shine surfaces.

Decalcification of Shower Heads and Faucets

Tips & Warnings

  • 1 tsp. of citric acid is equivalent to 1 whole lemon.
  • Never assume a product is safe for stainless steel just because it says it is on the label. Always check the ingredients. Test the product on a small area you plan to clean.
  • Heavy kitchen rubber gloves should be used when handling any strong acid. All acids can hurt the eyes or skin.
  • Protect the surrounding work area. Even mild acids bleach or eat through some fabrics when left to sit long enough.

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  • Photo Credit Hemera Technologies/ Images
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