How to Keep Your Stainless Steel Clean

August 20, 2015

Protect this popular kitchen material with a consistent but gentle cleaning routine.


How to Keep Your Stainless Steel Clean

Keeping Stains off the Stainless.

Aside from looking great and having a smooth, nonporous surface that hinders the growth of bacteria and other microorganisms, one of the reasons stainless steel is so widely used in professional kitchens is that it won’t rust easily in spite of daily wear and tear.

Safety first.

For safe care and cleaning, start with the right tools. The European Stainless Steel Development Association, or ESDA, suggests using soft sponges and microfiber cloths as the first line of defense. Don’t clean with steel scouring pads, which can scratch. Instead choose plastic scrubbing pads for tough jobs.

Go with the grain.

On stainless steel surfaces with brushed or polished finishes, always wipe and scrub in the same direction as the “grain” lines in the metal.

Better with age.

The ESDA says in addition to the availability of an increasing number of fingerprint-proof finishes, regular stainless steel shows fewer fingerprints over time. Patience is a virtue.

Stainless solutions.

When it comes to choosing cleaning products, the key to cleaning is sticking to it. Staying consistent, Most cleansers don’t blend together well, and it makes it much harder to keep perfect. For appliances, we use CLR [Stainless Steel Cleaner]. It will clean off any hard-water stains from the water and ice dispenser and any drips or food.


Stainless Steel Kitchen

Since products containing chloride can be harmful to the protective finish on stainless steel, the ESDA advises using the following:

Naturally clean.

For a DIY approach to cleaning using pantry items, the sustainable-living team at Eartheasy advises dampening a cloth with undiluted white vinegar or olive oil and wiping in the direction of the grain. To clean a stainless sink, it suggests pouring club soda on an absorbent cloth to scrub, then wiping dry.

Shine on.

Spray cleansers made specifically for cleaning decorative stainless steel surfaces usually contain silicone oil, and although they will remove fingerprints and smudges, they will not prevent them. The ESDA says the silicone oil can be completely removed by washing with mild soap and water.

Using a polishing paste is another way to keep stainless sparkling. Commercially sold pastes, such as 3M Marine Metal Restorer and Polish, will create a microscopic wax layer on the surface that will make it easy to clean. Since the pastes are resistant to detergents, treatment with a polishing paste may last several months. It can be removed using alcohol on a soft cloth.

It’s important to note that pastes and sprays meant for cleaning decorative stainless steel elements — refrigerator doors, kitchen backsplashes — should not be used on pots, pans or surfaces where food is prepared.

Do not use silver dip polishes, like the ones used for cleaning jewelry, because they are corrosive to stainless steel.


Stainless Steel Kitchen

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