You would think that something which is called “stainless” would never have a stain. As anyone with a stainless-steel refrigerator, dishwasher or stove can attest, that is not true. Those appliances look best when they’re sparkling but a lot of hands and food splatter can dull the shine. This means you need to clean those items but with special care. There are certain cleaners that can strip away the very metals that are meant to keep the stainless-steel protected. This is especially true with anything that has bleach. What’s left? Plenty. Keep these dos and don’ts in mind the next time you tackle the cleaning of your stainless-steel appliances:

Use mild soap and a soft cloth to wipe down the stainless-steel. The key is to make sure you also dry the surfaces right away. Don’t let the air do the drying.

As mentioned above, cleaners with bleach are the enemy of stainless-steel appliances. But so are disinfectants and abrasive cleaners that contain alcohol, ammonia, or chlorides. All of those compounds can harm stainless-steel.

Check the labels on the “deep cleaners,” too. Some products used for cleaning grout contain muriatic acid. Good for the grout but the fumes aren’t so good for the stainless-steel. Those fumes can breakdown the stainless-steel and speed up the aging process.

Avoid using any kind of steel wool or scrub pads. Those are the kinds of things that can scratch the surface. When that happens, rust could form.

There are specific stainless-steel appliance cleaners that you can use to wipe down the surfaces. Just be sure to use a cloth that is dedicated to this specific chore. If you use a dishrag that you’ve used on other cleaning, some of the food oils could seep into the stainless and break it down. That is especially true with anything acidic like wiping up after citrus fruit.

When shopping for stainless-steel, check the content of the steel. If there is good percentage of nickel, then those appliances will often be more rust-resistant.

Stainless-steel appliances are a major investment and you want to protect that investment for years to come.