How to clean the impossible to clean appliance?
November 30, 2020 9:49 AM   Subscribe

Can you help me figure out how to clean my refrigerator?

We have a Samsung stainless steel refrigerator. This one, to be precise. No matter what we do, we can't get the outside of it clean. It's about two years old, and has accumulated two years' worth of normal "dirt" - smudges, fingerprints, the usual wear-and-tear type stuff.

No matter what we try, though, we can't get it clean, and can't even make a dent in the collection of stains and marks on the front of the fridge. So far, we've used:

- warm water/soft cloth
- warm water/detergent/soft cloth (as recommended in the manual)
- 50/50 isopropyl alcohol/water
- dry rubbing with a soft cloth

None of these have any effect whatsoever - the smudges/stains just laugh them off (at least, in my head, I imagine them laughing at our attempts). None of them have had a bad effect on the finish, which is good, but I'm leery of just trying a bunch more random solutions (there's only so much less-visible real estate on the fridge door for testing new potential solutions) and I am also running out of ideas.

What have you used on your aluminum fridge that has succeeded in removing smudges and stains?
posted by pdb to Home & Garden (15 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I use a dedicated stainless steel cleaning spray on the outside of all my appliances. Comes with a microfiber cloth. Works a treat.
posted by anderjen at 9:53 AM on November 30, 2020 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Last sentence should read "your stainless fridge"

sorry for the confusion.
posted by pdb at 9:53 AM on November 30, 2020

A hot dish soapy water wash, followed by regular wiping with one of these glass cleaning cloths.
posted by fourpotatoes at 9:59 AM on November 30, 2020

When I worked for a cleaning company we - wiped stainless with windex to get it clean, then buffed in a very thin layer of mineral oil to smooth out the surface and prevent fingerprinting.

I do this at home like.. maybe once every 2 months? Cat hair and dust will get slightly stuck to it, so it doesn't prevent having to redo the cleaning occasionally, but it looks better in the meantime!

You can also use WD-40 if the stains are a little more stubborn, but your kitchen will smell like a automotive shop for a bit ;)
posted by euphoria066 at 10:00 AM on November 30, 2020

I use Mrs Meyer's baking soda cream cleanser with a microfiber cloth, which works perfectly. Also smells like lemon verbena, which is a bonus.
posted by pinochiette at 10:01 AM on November 30, 2020

When you say the smudges/stains just laugh them off are they the same smudges completely unchanged, or is it that new smudges are appearing where it has been cleaned/touched?
posted by Lanark at 11:16 AM on November 30, 2020

I use stainless steel cleaner like this on mine and it works really well!
posted by MadamM at 11:21 AM on November 30, 2020 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Lanark - they're the same smudges, completely unchanged.
posted by pdb at 11:21 AM on November 30, 2020

The best solution will depend on whether the fridge has an anti-smudge coating on top of the stainless steel.

With a pure basic stainless steel finish you can get quite aggressive with a scourer and soapy water working always with the grain, until it is clean and then apply some mineral oil to protect the surface afterwards.

A lot of recent fridges do seem to have a coating, with those I think you have to be more gentle to avoid stripping off the coating, which seems to involve leaving things to soak for 5-10 minutes - this video has some comparisons.

One thing to add about mineral oil is that in the short term (a few days) it can appear to be making things worse, it almost acts like a smudge magnet, but once it is fully dried in it will protect the surface for weeks/months.
posted by Lanark at 11:35 AM on November 30, 2020

Seconding the Weiman cleaner that MadamM recommends. Wipe it on with a circular motion and buff it dry along the grain of the stainless.
posted by JoeZydeco at 12:14 PM on November 30, 2020

I did baking soda + water paste. I was real scared that it was going to polish/buff/scratch the surface but it never did no matter how aggressive I was. Took the spots right off. YMMV.
posted by ftm at 12:58 PM on November 30, 2020

I use windex and paper towels.
posted by theora55 at 5:47 PM on November 30, 2020

I use a dedicated stainless steel cleaner (I think they come in wipes) on all our stainless appliances. Wipe very well with stainless cleaner wipe or spray/soft cloth, then buff with a microfiber cloth. It’s the only thing I’ve found that works, good luck!
posted by brand-gnu at 5:33 AM on December 1, 2020 [1 favorite]

We have a different Samsung stainless fridge and my spouse uses the same Weiman cleaner mentioned above. Seems to work very well.
posted by DiscourseMarker at 5:53 PM on December 1, 2020

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