Metal is everywhere around our homes; cookware, kitchen counters, rails, and more.
I’ll have to admit that metallic luster is appealing and adds a modern touch to any room.
There’s only one downside:
Maintaining the shine can be frustrating, especially when dealing with endless scratches and stubborn scuffs.
The good news is that there’s an easy way to remove scratches from stainless steel in only a few steps.
How good does that sound?
With this guide, you’ll know how to fix scratched metal and bring the bling back.
Let’s take a look at the science behind it all!
Why Metal Scratches Easily
Occasional scratches are to be expected with normal wear and tear.
The real issue is when metallic surfaces are ruined with scuff marks.
There could be any number of reasons why your appliance is taking a lot of abrasions.
However, knowing the cause can help you prevent it later on.
Here are the top factors that put metal surfaces at risk for scratching:
Metal Hardiness Rank
Metal resistance is a relative matter. When you look at it this way, any metal is subject to scratching.
Friedrich Mohs’ scale ranks metals and minerals according to their hardness.
Metals with low scores are more susceptible to wear and tear.
What’s the bottom line?
Stainless steel scores 5.5—6.3 on average. Even glass can scuff the surface of common house appliances.
Next time you use a tool on a metal counter, check their relative hardness first to avoid wearing the metal out.
Exposed Surface Area
Having a smaller surface area doesn’t necessarily mean fewer scratches.
It all comes down to how much this surface is exposed to deterioration factors.
Let me explain:
Take a metal watch as an example. It’s fairly small. Right?
Yet, it’s so easy to scuff because we’re constantly using our hands.
Similarly, the sink is frequently scratched because of how much scrubbing and throwing happens inside it.
That’s not always a factor you can control. The only way around it is to use caution whenever handling valuable items.
Scratches hardly seem like an urgent problem. That’s why we find it tempting to let a scuffed metal go unattended.
There’s almost always a scratched metal sheet sitting in the garage because you just don’t have the time.
So, you keep putting it off.
Here’s the problem with that:
The longer you wait, the harder the job gets.
Scuffs collect dust and grim. Before you know it, the piece of metal won’t be just scratched, it’ll be dirty, rusty, and grimy as well.
Wrong Metal Maintenance
I can’t stress the importance of proper metal maintenance.
It won’t prevent scratches entirely, but it’ll keep them under control.
You’d be surprised how easy it is to mistreat metals!
Rubbing against the grain or using abrasive sponges are the most common mistakes in metal maintenance.
Most people don’t even know there’s a metal grain to follow, but we’ll get to that in a minute with our FAQ section.
How to Remove Scratches from Stainless Steel
It’s easy to give up on scratched metal. Turning the rough texture to a smooth finish can seem almost impossible.
However, there are a few ways you can remove scratches from stainless steel surfaces.
Without further ado, let’s jump right in:
Method #1: Using Metal Cleaners for Fine Scratches
For fine surface scratches, a commercial-grade metal cleaner could be enough on its own.
It’s always better to use the cleaning product with a microfiber cloth and wipe with the grain, not against it.
Weiman makes stainless steel wipes that come with a handy microfiber cloth. Check it out here.
Here’s the best part:
You don’t need to buy cleaning products when vinegar works just fine.
Add equal parts vinegar and water in a spray bottle and use it instead.
If regular cleaning products don’t cut it, you can always use a metal scratch remover like Carfidant.
It’s a hybrid between a buffer and cleanser.
Method #2: Buffing Deep Metal Scratches
Buffer pads like Scotch-Brite Maroon Pads are easy to use. Plus, they’re good at hiding streaks or fingerprint smudges.
Once again, it’s crucial to make sure that you’re only wiping with the grain.
Scrubbing back and forth will do more harm than good.
Now, here’s the kicker:
If the metal is in really bad shape, you can resort to sandpaper.
However, keep in mind that sanding down is only suitable for uncoated metals.
I like to start with coarse sandpaper then gradually shift to fine grits. Doing so helps me create a smooth, even surface.
Method #3: Polishing Minor Metal Scratches
In the cases of minor scratches, buffing is hardly ever necessary. Simply polishing the surface can be enough.
Before you polish, wipe the metal clean with a damp cloth and let it dry. You don’t want to seal in any dirt or dust.
I find paste formulations more efficient than sprays. Here’s a user-friendly metal polish by 3M you can try out.
If you don’t have any polish around, put a dab of olive oil to restore the shine and luster of the stainless steel.
Tips to Keep Stainless-Steel Gleaming
Preserving the luster of a metallic surface can be frustrating. You’ll have to regularly deal with stains and scuffs.
Check out these simple tips for keeping your stainless steel shiny:
- Don’t use abrasive sponges
- Only wipe the surface along the grain
- Avoid leaving harsh chemicals like bleach on the metal
- Deal with metal scratches as soon as you spot them
- Use knives and sharp tools with caution on metallic surfaces
All-In-One Metal Scratch Remover Kits
Recently, I spotted pre-made metal scratch remover kits, and I wanted to see what the hype was all about.
A typical scratch eraser kit has multiple grit sandpaper, a brush, a microfiber towel, and a sort of oil or lubricant.
Check out this wet sanding technique before using the lubricating oil in the kit.
Here’s the deal:
In theory, it serves all the basic steps to fixing a scuffed metal. Here’s a kit by Rejuvenate if you want to try one for yourself.
Would I recommend these all-in-one kits? Yes, I would, as long as you’re only dealing with a few minor scratches.
For more complicated restoration jobs, you’d be better off buying the tools separately.
This way, you get larger amounts customized to your needs.
Here are some of the frequently asked questions about dealing with scratched metal:
Q: How can you identify metal grain?
A: The grain direction can be visible under a magnifying glass.
You can also run the tip of your finger horizontally and vertically to feel the grain.
Q: How can you remove scratches on cast iron skillets?
A: The best way to deal with cast iron scratches is by sanding the surface down, and don’t forget to re-season it after that.
Q: What sandpaper grit removes metal scratches?
A: Typically, 400 or 600 grit works best to sand down scuffs on metals, but you’ll need to scale down as you go to get a smooth finish.
Q: Can you use baking soda as a metal scratch remover?
A: Baking soda is a typical DIY cleaner. However, it could discolor the metal or dull the finishing coat.
The takeaway here is that scratched metal isn’t impossible to fix.
In most cases, you can remove scratches from stainless steel with just a few simple tricks.
If you’re willing to put in a little elbow grease, you can guarantee your metal appliances will always look brand new!