Can You Fix Scratched Stainless Steel?

by Rowan Guthrie
Texture of stainless steel wallpaper

Can You Fix Scratched Stainless Steel?

Discover the art of making scratched stainless steel look like new. Learn how you can make the stainless steel in your home shine again.

This article explains how to fix scratched stainless steel. It breaks down how to remove light scratches and reduce the visibility of deeper ones.

Author: Rowan Guthrie

Look closely at stainless steel and you’ll see it's like no other material. That sleek and lustrous appearance compliments almost anything, while its resistance to wear and tear is remarkable. It’s no wonder we use it in so many ways — think of those futuristic-looking appliances and the shiny surfaces of bathroom fixtures. But scratched stainless steel — that's another matter.

Even the most resilient stainless steel surfaces accumulate scratches and scuffs over time. Maybe you look at the surfaces in your home and reflect on when they looked like new, thinking those days are gone forever. The good news is that there's something you can do about it. In this guide, we'll explore how to get scratches out of stainless steel and restore its luster.

Understanding Scratched Stainless Steel

People love stainless steel because it’s so resistant to corrosion and staining. So many household items are made from it, such as cutlery, lighting fixtures, trash cans and kitchen countertops. Those examples have something else in common — they’re items we use every day, which is why they were made from stainless steel.

But, despite its toughness, it can still develop scratches, whether from everyday use or accidental mishaps. However, you can reduce the visibility of many minor scratches and, in some cases, completely remove them. All it takes is a little know-how and a bit of effort. Let us show you how — step by step.

How to Remove Scratches from Stainless Steel

Step 1: Gather Your Tools and Materials

As with any project, preparation is key to dealing with scratched stainless steel. Therefore, it’s essential you collect the right tools for the job, as well as other materials that will come in handy.

  • Stainless steel scratch remover: Choose a fine-grade rubbing compound. Look for one labeled as "stainless steel-safe" or "suitable for stainless steel surfaces.”
  • Scrubbing pad or fine steel wool: Opt for a nonabrasive scrubbing pad or fine steel wool. If you use steel wool, look for "0000" grade — the finest grade available.
  • Cloth: Use a soft, clean cloth to apply and buff the rubbing compound. Microfiber cloths are lint-free, so they won’t create streaks on the smooth surface.
  • Stainless steel polish or olive oil: Use a specialized stainless steel polish or olive oil for the finishing touch. Everyday virgin olive oil is pure and mild, making it a natural lubricant with shining properties.

Step 2: Assess the Severity of the Scratches

Before you begin, examine the scratches on your stainless steel surface and determine whether there are any deep gouges among the light scratches. Take note of their length and width because longer and larger scratches may require more extensive repair methods. Be sure to also observe the direction because scratches that run parallel to the grain can be more difficult to see. This assessment will help you determine the best way to restore scratched stainless steel.

Step 3: Removing Light Scratches

Follow these steps for light scratches:

  1. Test the rubbing compound on a separate piece of stainless steel to check its effectiveness, such as the back of an appliance. If you’re sure it’s suitable, apply a small amount to the scratched area.
  2. Gently rub the compound in a circular motion, working it into the scratches.
  3. Continue to rub until the scratches begin to fade or disappear.
  4. Wipe away any excess rubbing compound with a clean microfiber cloth.

Step 4: Tackling Deeper Scratches

Deeper scratches almost always require more effort. Follow these steps for better results:

  1. Start by cleaning the scratched area to remove lingering debris or dirt.
  2. Apply a small amount of rubbing compound to your scrubbing pad or fine steel wool.
  3. Using light to moderate pressure, rub the compound along the length of the scratch, following the grain of the stainless steel.
  4. Continue this process until the scratch becomes less noticeable.
  5. If there’s any residue, wipe it away with a clean microfiber cloth.

Step 5: Finishing Touches

While the previous steps cover how to get scratches out of stainless steel, your job is incomplete until it shines. Now's the time to grab your specialized stainless steel polish or olive oil. Apply the option you chose to a clean cloth and buff the surface, following the grain until the stainless steel shines like new.

If you have time, repeat these steps as that can sometimes improve the results. This process may yield near-perfect results for minor surface scratches, and while some scratches may be too deep to completely remove, the above steps can significantly improve their appearance.