How to Clean Discolored Stainless Flatware

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Things You'll Need

  • Mild dishwashing detergent

  • Dish cloth

  • Dish towel

  • White vinegar or club soda

  • Clean terry cloths

  • Stainless steel cleaner

Stainless resists stains. Stainless flatware can become discolored by some foods and drinks.

Stainless flatware is durable and long-lasting because it's basically made from iron alloys. It's covered with a protective coating. This type of flatware resists rust and corrosion. It gets its name because it resists stains. However, stainless can become discolored. Drinks such as coffee and tea can discolor it. So can salt, salad dressings, butter, hard water and heat. Simply washing stainless flatware can sometimes clean it if the discolorations are light. If that doesn't work, there are two other methods you can use.


Step 1

Fill the kitchen sink half-full with hot water. Add a few drops of dishwashing detergent. Swish the water around to create suds.

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Step 2

Wash the stainless flatware one-by-one with a dish cloth in the sink. Rinse it well with clean water. Immediately dry it with a towel.

Step 3

Wet a terry cloth with a liberal amount of either white vinegar or club soda. Wipe the stainless flatware one-by-one. Clean it to remove the discoloration. Then, wipe it with a clean, dry cloth to restore its shine.

Step 4

Use a stainless steel cleaner to remove stubborn discolorations. Read and follow the manufacturer's directions and warnings in order to achieve the best results. Basically, you will apply the cleaner to the flatware, then wipe it off.


Washing stainless flatware by hand can get it cleaner (and not leave residues) than placing it in the dishwasher.


Wipe the stainless flatware as you clean it with the grain, not against it. Rubbing against the grain will scratch it.

Don't use abrasive cleansers or cleaning pads to clean stainless. They will scratch it.

Don't soak stainless in water.

To avoid spots and other marks, immediately dry stainless flatware after it's been washed.

You may need to wear gloves to apply certain types of stainless steel cleaners to protect your hands from irritation. You may also need to wash the flatware in warm, sudsy water after removing the discoloration to remove product residue.



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