Refinishing knives

Published on August 13th, 2017 | by Henri


Stainless steel knives

Q.  My problem and question is that my Wallace stainless knives have developed a discoloration on the knife blades. I have tried a number of cleaners, etc., but nothing takes the discoloration away and restores them. I was wondering whether you have any knowledge of a product that would clean and restore the “new” look to the knife blade. Hope you can help and thank you.

A.    By discoloration, do you mean just dullness or rust-like stains? The following is a compendium of stainless steel care, not all of which are necessarily applicable to your concern.

We have successfully kept our stainless steel utensils stain-free over the years by carefully removing all food particles from them with a soft brush under running hot water in order not to scratch them, and then putting them through a normal cycle in the dishwasher. Of course this can only be done if your knives are solid stainless steel and do not have handles made of material that should not be put in a dishwasher. It is also best to remove the utensils and dry them thoroughly with a soft cloth or paper towels as soon as the cleaning cycle is complete to prevent water spotting.

If the stains you are experiencing are what are called heat streaks, gently rub the utensils with a soft cloth dampened in olive or mineral oil. You can also try making a paste with baking soda and liquid dish soap, and rubbing each stained utensil with a clean cloth dampened with the paste. Other suggestions are to immerse the blades in white vinegar for a few minutes, rinsing and drying them, but care must be exercised that the acid will not harm the utensils (more later).

Here are other recommended cleaning methods from Silver Magpies, a sales, appraisals and identification of vintage silver (, which the owner is generously suggesting be passed along to anyone in need.

Make a thick paste with two tablespoons of baking soda in a bowl and a little water. Vigorously rub the paste onto the stained blades and rinse the paste off, also vigorously, under running water. This should do it, but if not, she recommends substituting lemon juice for water with the caveat that some stainless steel, depending on how it is alloyed,  may be damaged by the acid. If need be, test your utensils before using any acid.

One comment she makes that is worth noting: If you have used your knives with acidic food and they haven’t become damaged, substituting lemon should be OK. Rub the paste and rinse it off as mentioned above. If still not satisfied, she recommends the use of a copper cleaning cloth.

Once all the stains are removed, buffing the utensils with a very small amount of lemon oil, following the grain of the steel, should bring out its original shine.

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