How to Polish and Repair Stainless Steel

By Kaye Wagner

Stainless steel is a common material for home and kitchen appliances because it resists stains and rust well. However, it is relatively soft and can get scratched over time. This is especially true of stainless steel countertops, which can get scratched if you drag heavy and pointed objects over them. You can work to remove these scratches by polishing the stainless steel surface to help restore its appearance.

List of Items Needed

  • Stainless steel or glass cleaner
  • 600-grit wet/dry sanding pad
  • Sandpaper
  • Power sander
  • Olive oil
  • Buffing compound or automobile polish
  • Rotary tool with a detail abrasive brush and buffing head accessories
  1. Clean the stainless steel surface thoroughly with stainless steel or glass cleaner.

  2. Rinse the stainless steel surface with clear water but don’t dry it. The water helps lubricate the surface so that you don’t scratch it while you are polishing out the scratches.

  3. Wet a wet/dry sanding pad or piece of wet/dry sandpaper with water. Use sandpaper that is higher than 600 grit. Use a sanding pad on a power sander if you have a lot of scratches you want to remove. A rotary tool with a detail abrasive brush will get into hard to reach places where other techniques won't. Don’t apply too much pressure because you don’t want to refinish the stainless steel.

  4. Sand the scratch thoroughly. Work in the direction of the stainless steel grain to blend the scratch with the surface. Work until the scratch is gone. Keep the stainless steel wet while you are working.

  5. Rinse the area with clean water and dry it thoroughly.

  6. Apply a dime-sized amount of olive oil to the stainless steel surface. Work to polish the stainless steel and make it appear shiny. Remove excess oil with another clean cloth.

  7. Use a rotary tool with a buffing head accessory for "like new" shine. Dab some buffing compound or automobile polish, available at any hardware store, onto the buffing head and begin polishing the stainless steel. The speed of the rotating head will give a mirror like shine to any stainless steel item. This is an especially effective method for intricate patterns that were cast into the surface. Once polished, wipe off with a damp cloth.

Tips and Warnings

  • Always wear the proper protection, including gloves and goggles, when using power sanding tools because they can spray metal shavings into your face.

© Demand Media 2011