How to clean stainless steel

The caption ‘stainless’ steel is well defined, as this family of alloys can stain or corrode, but significantly less than lower alloyed or carbon steels. When containing more than 10.5% of chromium, a steel is classified as a stainless steel. This level of chromium content encourages the formation of a thin, but highly adherent passive layer on the surface of the metal as soon as it is exposed to oxygen. However, dirt and deposits can build up on the surface, or localised pitting corrosion can occur leading to discoloration.

There are a number of proprietary cleaning agents for stainless steels on the market, but for most applications following some simple rules will achieve an acceptable result. As with many surfaces, warm soapy water should be sufficient to lift away surface dirt and deposits. Whatever you do, do not use bleach or chloride-containing solutions, which would greatly increase the likelihood of pitting corrosion inadvertently if not fully removed. Similarly, steel brushes or wool should not be used, as any tiny particles of steel that remain on the surface will quickly corrode, leaving a rust mark that is very difficult to remove. Following the grain of the machined or polished surface will not only retain the original finish, but result in more effective cleaning.

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