Stainless steel is an excellent choice for cookware, kitchen appliances, and more. It is durable and attractive, and it has a well-deserved reputation for resisting stains and other damage. However, over a long period of time, your stainless steel will inevitably sustain a few scratches. Depending on the severity of the scratch, repairing it can be a quick fix or an expensive, professional endeavor. Follow the steps below to learn how to repair scratched stainless steel.
Work some vegetable oil into the scratch. Applying vegetable oil can help eliminate the appearance of very small scratches. Simply rub the oil in with a paper towel, and then wipe the area dry. This process can be repeated regularly to minimize the appearance of small scratches.
Refinish the steel with a non-metallic abrasive pad. Most stainless steel will have a polished finish with short, directional polish lines. To inexpensively repair small to medium scratches, you can refinish the stainless steel. Use an abrasive pad to stroke the steel's surface in long, smooth strokes following the grain of the polish lines. This will result in a new finish that looks slightly different, with longer polish lines.
Refinish the steel with sandpaper. In addition to an abrasive pad, you can also use sandpaper to refinish the steel. Use 80 to 120 grit sandpaper and rub the surface in long, smooth strokes. Always stroke along the grain. Although this method will help remove scratches, it can dull the finish of your stainless steel slightly.
Replace the scratched stainless steel panel. If the scratches are on a refrigerator or dishwasher that has a removable door panel, you can opt to replace the panel if it is scratched. This will be much less expensive than either getting the appliance professionally refinished or buying a new appliance. Consider buying a panel with a distressed or swirl finish, as these hide scratches better than a straight-grained polished finish.
Remove the scratches with a commercial scratch repair product. There are several products designed to repair scratches in stainless steel; 2 of the most popular cleaners are Bar Keepers Friend and Scratch-B-Gone. These products should be applied with a non-abrasive cloth along the grain of the finish. These products can be quite expensive, but work well for all but the deepest gouges.
Soak the stainless steel in vinegar. This method works well for damaged stainless steel sinks, as scratches can be caused by heavy mineral content in the tap water. Soak several dish towels in distilled vinegar, and line the sink with the towels. Allow them to sit for several hours, and then rinse the sink clean.
Have the stainless steel professionally refinished. If the above options don't work, you can get a contractor that specializes in fabricating and finishing stainless steel to repair the finish on your appliance. This process will be expensive, but can usually restore your appliance's finish to its factory appearance.