Easiest Way to Clean Stainless Steel Utensils

This tried and true method using simple household ingredients removes water stains, dried on food and other crud and makes your stainless steel cutlery shine!
clean silverware

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Good morning my friend! During this uncertain time, I'm finding that it is best to stay busy, and to watch the news only once a day!

There have definitely been perks to the social isolation, such as spending quality time with my kids, lots of baking and experimenting in the kitchen, catching up on TV shows and movies, and being motivated to get some extra chores completed!

I am not one to post cleaning tutorials, although my easy way to clean baseboards using a $1 dollar store product has been a very popular post! But I have been noticing for about a month that our stainless steel cutlery has been looking pretty bad. Water spots, rusty looking marks and dullness have met my eyes every time I go to reach for a fork! I thought you might enjoy seeing my lazy girl's way to getting sparkly clean utensils!

Easily Clean Water Spots from Utensils

I've been putting this chore off because...well, I guess just because I'm lazy! It's always much simpler than I think it's going to be, and only takes about 15 minutes to sparkling clean utensils! Plus, if you have a Science geek in the house, they'll definitely enjoy watching the process! 😃 

Household Supplies

Rather than buying expensive (and likely toxic) products to clean my stainless steel and silver utensils, I find these household giants do the job just as well, maybe even better!

  • tin foil
  • baking soda
  • white vinegar
  • boiling water


That is all you need! Now let me show you a little before picture of my water-spotted, grimy looking utensils...do yours look like this?

dirty utensils

I find peanut butter (and any nut butter for that matter) doesn't completely come off in our dishwasher. I'm left with dirty-looking stains, dried on food, and even a few rusty spots. Gross!!! 😱😬

The Easy Way to Clean Utensils

The first thing to do is fill a kettle with water and start it boiling. If you don't have a kettle, fill a large pot with water on the stovetop.

Lay a sheet of tin foil, shiny side up, in your sink.

I usually do all of one kind of utensil at a time (ie: all my teaspoons), so spread them out on the tin foil, front side up. It's okay if it's a little crowded, but try to have them in a single layer.

Harness the Power of Baking Soda and Vinegar!

Next, generously sprinkle baking soda over the utensils, making sure to coat any dirty spots. Then pour about 1/4 cup of white vinegar over the top and watch it foam as it removes all that grime.

baking soda


Once the foaming stops, pour about a cup of boiling water over the top. This seems to reactivate the baking powder and vinegar cleaning action and gives an additional boost to the job!

boiling water

If utensils are really dirty, let them soak in this cleaning solution for a few minutes. Then I like to hand wash the utensils using dish soap and a gentle scrubber. Rinse well and then dry.

Is the foil necessary?

Yes! You want to use tin foil because there is an electrolytic reaction which actually transfers the oxidized tarnish from the utensils onto the foil! When you're finished, you'll notice the foil is dirty and has lost most of its shine.

I leave the piece of tin foil, and any cleaning leftovers, in the sink and just keeping adding a new batch of utensils. You'll be amazed how dirty the tin foil looks once you're finished! It's like it draws all that grime out and hangs onto it!

I find that our utensils often get put away wet, or damp, and our hard water loves to create stains on the stainless!

While everything is soaking, I take the opportunity to spray the utensil caddy with my Immunity Boost (just like Young Living Thieves but cheaper) cleaner and dry. Goodbye crumbs, hair (EW!) etc!

dirty utensil caddy

Only when the cleaned utensils are completely dry do they get returned to the caddy.

It feels SO good to spend 15 minutes on this cleaning chore and be rewarded with clean and sparkly utensils in a clean caddy!

clean utensil drawer

Before and After

I took before and after photos of the same knives, just so you can really see the comparison!

First the dirty...

dirty knives

Now the clean...

clean knives

Can you see the difference? WOW right?! 

If you still have some rusty looking spots after following this cleaning method, you may need to use a piece of steel wool to help finish the job. I only have to do that once a year or even every other year. This method does a fantastic job in between!

I hope you found this cleaning tutorial helpful! Please let me know if you have any questions...I'm certainly no cleaning expert 😉 but maybe I'll be able to help!

Pin for later

clean utensils

Check out my simple, non-toxic way to clean the inside of your oven, especially that door!

bringing beauty to the ordinary, 


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  1. I have a friend who is busy checking all the expiration dates on her spices - this sounds a lot more fun! i use my mother's and my aunt's Community (now Oneida) silverplate utensils daily. do you know if it will work on those too? if so, do you think it would do anything with all the grim in the pattern crevices? i guess i don't have much else to do than give it a try! thanks!

    1. Gwen, I've used this on my silverplate "good" utensils too! The grime in the pattern creases is tougher. Try soaking longer, or after soaking scrub with a non-scratching sponge!

  2. Why do you need the foil? Why can't you just plug your sink and pour the same ingredients in? Is this simply due to being able to make the space smaller, so you don't have to use as much baking soda/vinegar/water? Thanks!

    1. Great question! I've always been told that it reacts with the baking soda and vinegar to enhance cleaning!

  3. Hi Cindy, I was wondering how long do they need to soak for? Also is tin and aluminum foil the same? I'm cleaning passed down silverware that was in a vacant home for a good year on a ranch. Trying to disinfect as well plus a good clean. (Bugs, mice etc got into the cabinets) I appreciate this blog post. Respectfully, Mayela Keller

    1. Thanks for the questions Mayela, soak them until the bubbling action stops, just a couple minutes. If they're heavily soiled, they might benefit from an additional soak. Aluminum foil comes on a roll, it used to be tin.

  4. I'd love to see your tips on cleaning the inside of the oven door!

    1. Thank you, please check out this non toxic oven cleaning method https://www.diybeautify.com/2022/01/easiest-non-toxic-DIY-cleaner-for-sparkling-oven.html

  5. My silverware looks amazing! Thanks for the explanation and directions.

  6. I'm interested in the oven door as well.

    1. Please check out my non toxic oven cleaning method here https://www.diybeautify.com/2022/01/easiest-non-toxic-DIY-cleaner-for-sparkling-oven.html

  7. Wow! Used this rather than harsh chemicals on stainless steel butter knives that looked terrible. I used a flat tray to hold the liquid, let them sit for like 1 minute and than went over them with a sub daddy. They came out looking like new.


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