How to Polish Stainless Steel Scratches Out

Updated February 21, 2017

Stainless steel is frequently used in household work surfaces, appliances and decorative items. While daily maintenance may require simply wiping the surface with a soft cloth, scratches can still occur. In many cases, light scratches are camouflaged by the directional grain of the steel. Others are more difficult to ignore. Polishing a scratch may reduce or remove it. However there are cases where professional help is indicated. Follow the following steps to remedy the problem, to determine if one should accept and live with the damage, or to determine if professional help should be enlisted.

Determine the finish the stainless steel surface has. Traditional stainless steel sinks and counters feature a low lustre finish that is minimally reflective. A satin finish is characterised by a high-gloss shine.

Shine a light on the finish if you are unsure. A standard finish may have swirls or cross hatch grain to it. A high-gloss polished finish will reflect the light and have a very fine directional grain or an undetectable grain.

Gently rub scratched area with a nylon pad preloaded with polish especially designed for stainless steel. They are available commercially. If the product is not on-hand, use a slightly abrasive metal-free pad and add metal polish. Rub along the grain if one is present.

Polish with a soft cloth to remove any residue.

Assess the scratch to see if it has disappeared or has acceptably diminished. If it is deep or unimproved, there are several options. The scratch can be left as-is, a professional may be enlisted or the area may be sanded (under certain conditions). Stainless steel may not have a satin finish to utilise this technique.

Sand the scratch with a 80- to 120-grit course sandpaper. Sand in the direction of the grain. For best results, tear a small corner of the sandpaper so contact is made with as little of the surface as possible. Buff with a soft cloth. The resulting finish may be slightly cloudy.

Replace the stainless steel panel. If the scratch is unacceptable after attempts for removal have been made, a professional may refinish or replace the surface.

Things You'll Need

  • Flashlight
  • Polish pad
  • Stainless steel polish
  • Soft clean cloth
  • Course sandpaper
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