How to Clean Stainless Steel Properly

How to Clean Stainless Steel Properly

The ongoing debate among designers about the dominance of stainless steel in kitchens and its potential decline in favor of glossy black or white appliances with sleek finishes continues. However, stainless steel appliances and kitchen elements remain popular. Whether you have a little or a lot of stainless steel, experts offer advice on how to deal with fingerprints and maintain and clean this durable surface.

Stainless steel is favored in professional kitchens for its attractive appearance, smooth nonporous surface that resists bacterial growth, and resistance to rust despite daily wear. Nevertheless, rust and stains can still occur. Scratching the protective film with steel pads or wire brushes, exposure to standing or chlorinated water, or contact with certain household cleansers can damage stainless steel surfaces, according to the North American Association of Food Equipment Manufacturers.

For safe care and cleaning, the European Stainless Steel Development Association (ESDA) recommends using soft sponges and microfiber cloths as the first line of defense. Avoid steel scouring pads to prevent scratching and opt for plastic scrubbing pads for tougher tasks. When cleaning brushed or polished stainless steel surfaces, always wipe and scrub in the direction of the grain lines in the metal.

Over time, regular stainless steel tends to show fewer fingerprints, but there are also increasing options for fingerprint-proof finishes. Consistency is key when using cleaning products for stainless steel appliances. Sticking to a specific cleanser is important to maintain its perfection. The ESDA suggests using diluted vinegar for limescale, baking soda for coffee deposits, alcoholic solvents like acetone for adhesives, chloride-free glass sprays for polished surfaces, and commercially manufactured pastes and sprays designed for stainless steel use.

For a natural approach, the sustainable-living team at Eartheasy recommends using undiluted white vinegar or olive oil on a cloth to wipe stainless steel surfaces in the direction of the grain. To clean a stainless steel sink, club soda can be poured on an absorbent cloth for scrubbing, followed by drying.

Spray cleansers made specifically for decorative stainless steel surfaces often contain silicone oil, which can be removed by washing with mild soap and water. Polishing pastes, such as 3M Marine Metal Restorer and Polish, create a wax layer on the surface that facilitates easy cleaning. These pastes are resistant to detergents and can last several months, but they can be removed with alcohol on a soft cloth. It's important to note that pastes and sprays meant for decorative stainless steel should not be used on surfaces where food is prepared or cookware.

Avoid using silver dip polishes, as they are corrosive to stainless steel, similar to their effect on jewelry.

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