Caring for stainless steel
This month we’re answering concerns our clients often have about taking care of stainless steel surfaces in their kitchen. Because while it is stylish and appealing, the stainless steel needs regular maintenance to look brand new for many years. Luckily, you just have to follow a few simple instructions to keep the stainless steel surfaces shining and looking great.
Before cleaning you should always refer to the manufacturer’s information on maintaining your stainless steel surface. Stainless steel comes in a variety of finishes and you should always be careful with the materials and cleaning aids you use.
Things to avoid.
Scratching the surface. It is a simple rule and ironically most of the scratches on the stainless steel surface are not due to the materials we use but rather the dirt that sticks to this surface.
You cannot avoid dust and other general grime that can accumulate on the surface but as soon as any spills and splats are created they need to be carefully removed from the surface with a soft cloth and warm water. Any spill will stick to the surface and will dry and harden quickly. What happens next is we come and clean with a nice soft cloth and as soon as we start rubbing the stuck-on dirt it will crumble and flake. These ‘unstuck’ pieces will act together with our soft cloth as a fine sandpaper. This is the number one reason most stainless steel sinks and stove tops look scratched after some use since they are exposed to the nastiest stuck-on and baked-on dirt.
Cleaning chemicals can be suitable for some stainless steel surfaces and completely destructive on others so it is extremely important to check the manufacturer’s guidelines before using any cleaning chemicals. It’s also advisable to test the product on a small area before full use.
Never leave the stainless steel surface wet as the water will leave marks when drying out. Furthermore, when the water is hard it can leave residue which can discolour or scratch the surface of your stainless steel appliances. The excess water should always be removed by a paper towel or a clean dry cloth.
The safest option is to clean stainless steel with a damp soft cloth using gentle warm water. Most of the dust and everyday grime can be removed using this method but if a greasy spot is encountered, you can add a tiny amount of mild detergent to the warm water.
Removing stubborn stains
If the warm water mixed with a small amount of mild detergent after soaking does not completely remove the stain, then try vinegar or rubbing alcohol (manufacture guidelines permitting). When a stain is removed from stainless steel using this method you should still follow up with warm soapy water and then a complete dry treatment to maximize the safe cleaning effect. Another method of cleaning stubborn stains on stainless steel is to use a baking soda solution. Since baking soda is an active cleaner it is recommended to always test the effects of this solution on a small area to make sure that the surface will not be damaged. Once again, always follow up with warm soapy water afterwards and finish with a complete dry treatment.
We use our hands to open doors of kitchen appliances and most of the time this means that the stainless steel surfaces are marked by our fingers around the handles. One of the overlooked areas is the “around the corner” treatment. We often forget that when we open the door we leave finger marks not only on the front surface of an appliance but also on the side and back surfaces.
By following some of the above you will ensure that your stainless steel surfaces will continue to shine in your kitchen for many years to come.