How to Remove Burn Marks from Stainless Steel Backsplash

Burn marks on a stainless steel backsplash can be unsightly and difficult to remove. However, with a little elbow grease and the right cleaning solutions, you can make your backsplash look brand new again. Here are some tips for removing burn marks from stainless steel.

What Causes Burn Marks on Stainless Steel?

Stainless steel is designed to be resistant to corrosion, rust, and stains. However, it is still susceptible to heat damage. Prolonged exposure to high heat from pots, pans, and other cooking utensils can cause the stainless steel finish to break down. This results in discoloration and burnt spots.

Common causes of burn marks on a stainless steel backsplash include:

  • Placing hot pots or pans directly on the backsplash surface
  • Spatters of oil, grease, or other hot foods hitting the backsplash
  • The edges of hot pans scraping against the backsplash as they are moved
  • Using high heat underneath an uncovered section of backsplash

The discoloration occurs when the top layer of the stainless steel weakens and exposes the layers underneath. To remove the marks, you need to get rid of this top layer of compromised material.

How to Remove Light Burn Marks

For light burn marks that haven’t penetrated too deeply, you can often remove them with household cleaners and a little scrubbing. Here are some easy methods to try:

Baking Soda and Water Paste

Make a paste with equal parts baking soda and water. Apply it to the burn marks and let it sit for 5-10 minutes before scrubbing with a soft cloth or sponge. The baking soda is a gentle abrasive that will help lift the stain.


Use undiluted white vinegar and rub it into the burn mark with a non-abrasive sponge or cloth. Let the vinegar sit for a few minutes before rinsing clean. Repeat as needed. The acidic vinegar will help dissolve the top layer of stainless steel where the discoloration occurred.

Cleaner Polishes

Look for a stainless steel cleaner made specifically for removing burn marks and stains. Apply it per the product instructions, let it soak in, and buff clean. The chemicals and light abrasives in the cleaner will break down the stain.

Metal Scrub Pads

For stubborn spots, use a soft metal scrub pad designed for stainless steel. Apply pressure while rubbing in the direction of the grain. This provides light abrasion to remove the damaged top layer. Avoid coarse pads like steel wool that can scratch.

Removing Severe Burn Marks

For severe burn marks or large discolored areas, more aggressive methods may be needed:


Fine grit sandpaper can slowly grind away the stained layer. Use 400 grit or higher wet/dry sandpaper and always sand in the direction of the grain. Rinse and dry between sanding to check progress.

Scouring Powders

Look for scouring powders made for stainless steel. Products like Bar Keepers Friend contain oxalic acid to help dissolve burn stains. Make a paste, apply to marks, let soak 5-10 minutes, and scrub. Rinse thoroughly after use.

Automotive Polishing Compound

Very fine automotive polishing compound can buff away severe discoloration with a lot of elbow grease. Use a soft cloth and rub the compound in the direction of the grain. Avoid rubbing too aggressively.

Professional Refinishing

For extensive damage or when DIY methods fail, professional refinishing may be required. This involves mechanically stripping off layers and re-brushing the stainless steel surface. This will restore the uniform finish.

Tips for Preventing Burn Marks

To avoid the hassle of removing burn marks, be mindful when cooking:

  • Use trivets and hot pads under hot pots and pans
  • Keep the backsplash free of food splatters when cooking
  • Avoid scraping metal utensils on the backsplash
  • Cover sections of backsplash near burners when boiling liquids or frying
  • Clean up spills immediately before residue bakes on
  • Use lower heat settings when possible

With proper care, your stainless steel backsplash should stay in pristine and mark-free condition for years to come. But if stains occur, these removal methods should have you covered. Scrub patiently and you’ll have that shiny backsplash restored in no time.

Frequently Asked Questions About Removing Burn Marks from Stainless Steel Backsplashes

How do I know if I can remove the burn marks myself or need professional help?

Minor discoloration and small marks can usually be removed with household cleaners and light scrubbing. But if the marks are widespread or penetrate deep into the metal, a professional refinishing may be the best solution.

What is the safest cleaning product to use?

For light duty cleaning, baking soda paste, vinegar, or a stainless steel cleaner designed specifically for burn marks are safe options. Avoid harsh chemicals like bleach or ammonia. Always spot test cleaners first.

How can I prevent metal scouring pads from scratching the surface?

Use the lightest duty pad required to remove the stain. Apply minimal pressure and only scrub in the direction of the grain. This minimizes potential scratching.

Is there a homemade cleaner recipe that works well?

A paste of baking soda and water often works for light stains. For tougher marks, mix water with cream of tartar or lemon juice. The acids in these help dissolve stains. Rinse thoroughly after use.

What grit sandpaper is best for sanding out severe stains?

Use at least 400 grit wet/dry sandpaper. Higher grit sizes like 600 or 800 are even gentler. Always sand in direction of grain and rinse after to prevent scratching. Start light and increase grit as needed.

Can I simply paint over burn marks if all else fails?

Painting over may temporarily mask the appearance, but it won’t fix the underlying damage and may eventually peel or flake off. Removing the stained layer is the proper permanent solution.