One of the quickest ways to make your kitchen look sleek and modern with clean lines is to install stainless steel appliances. Stainless steel’s cool grey looks terrific in just about any kitchen. Still, one of the main complaints is that it shows every fingerprint and smudge, so appliance makers combat this by designing stainless steel resistant to these blemishes.
Smudge-proof stainless steel can be a terrific option, especially for families with children or kitchens that see a lot of entertaining. However, drawbacks do exist, particularly if the manufacturer opts for a lower grade of steel when designing a smudge-proof appliance.
However, even that particular drawback can have its advantages. You’ll have to decide what’s right for you, which is why you’ve navigated here while doing your research, so let’s get to it.
Most smudge-proof stainless steel resists fingerprints through a protective coating applied to it. Stainless steel is an alloy of several different elemental metals.
It almost always contains chromium and nickel, and depending on the type of stainless steel, it may also contain aluminum, copper, phosphorus, or titanium, among others.
Because of these variables, stainless steel comes in several grades, but the most common grades used in appliances are designated by numbers: 304 and 316. While 304 is more common in household uses, it is not the only grade used.
The chromium and nickel lend stainless steel its rust resistance but do nothing to rebuff fingerprints.
To do that, the steel needs a protective coating, which manufacturers often spray onto the metal during production.
Another method of creating smudge-proof stainless steel is to use a lower grade of stainless steel.
A lower grade will have less nickel in it, which means it will be slightly less resistant to rust, but if you perform regular cleaning and maintenance, it’s unlikely your refrigerator will rust away in your kitchen.
Incidentally, the lower nickel content means that this particular stainless steel will be magnetic.
Many people have an issue with stainless steel appliances because magnets won’t stick to them, meaning hanging Ainsley’s artwork from school later this afternoon is a non-starter.
If you opt for the higher-grade stainless steel, you’ll have choices in the finish, and those choices can also affect fingerprint resistance:
- Smudge-proof coating. The most obvious option for resisting smudges is applying a protective coating. Most manufacturers offer this option if it’s not standard on the appliance in question.
- Matte vs. brushed finish. A matte finish results from cold rolling stainless steel. The result is a smooth surface, though it isn’t shiny. The shinier brushed finish goes through an extensive polishing procedure. It won’t reflect images like a mirror, but it comes closer to doing that than the matte does. Matte finishes are much more smudge-resistant than anything shinier.
- Quality of stainless steel. As mentioned above, lower-quality stainless steel will better resist smudges and fingerprints, while higher-quality materials will be sturdier and more durable.
If you’re replacing only one appliance in your kitchen, these choices will be more critical, as each one affects how the stainless steel looks.
If your refrigerator has a matte finish with a smudge-proof coating on it and your dishwasher has no coating and boasts a brushed finish, they won’t look alike.
Since many people want their appliances to match, this could be an issue.
If, however, you’re replacing all your appliances at once, that’s not a concern.
You’ll be freed at that point from trying to match what you’ve got and can focus instead on the finish you want rather than the one that looks right.
Keeping It Clean
Cleaning smudge-proof stainless steel is easy since most of it is smudge-proof due to that protective coating.
Think about NASCAR drivers— they have layers of plastic film on their windshields so that when they get dirty, the pit crew can peel off one layer along with all the dirt.
The protective coating works on a similar principle, though you don’t peel the layer off.
Most smudge-proof stainless steel cleans off nicely with a dry microfiber cloth. Dish soap and water works, as well.
There are special stainless steel cleaners, like Therapy’s plant-based stainless steel cleaner kit or these stainless steel cleaner wipes from Weiman.
You need those to clean regular stainless steel properly. While you can use a product like that on your smudge-proof stainless steel appliances, you don’t have to.
Having smudge-proof stainless steel appliances constitutes a wise choice for most kitchens.
They will clean off easily, and since the protective coating, well, protects, you’ve got some assurances against cosmetic damage from daily wear and tear.
Your appliances will look terrific for a long time, and the timeless nature of the look of stainless means you’ll enjoy having those appliances last, rather than wishing you had something different as you wait for them to need replacing.