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Background

Stainless Steel products may be a little higher in price than other material products, however they portray the appearance of always being attractive and clean. There are special cleaning practices that one must take to keep them looking their best, but the frequency and the cost of cleaning stainless steel products is considerably lower than other material products. All stainless steel finishes and grade have the risk of becoming stained, discoloured and can attain a layer of built up grime during normal usage practices. As long as the proper stainless steel products are purchases for their intended use, stainless steel products can provide many years of great service with proper cleaning and maintenance.

Why Maintenance is Necessary

Despite how sturdy and strong stainless steel products are, there are certain factors and conditions that can damage these products if proper cleaning and maintenance are not performed. Naturally occurring conditions within the atmosphere where these products are located results in deposits being left on the stainless steel surfaces that can be very corrosive. Stainless Steel can contaminate like iron and rust and salt will actually eat at the surface of the product, resulting in pitting, staining and discolouration of the material.

Stainless steel products that are used in areas that are warm in temperature but high in humidity, such as indoor swimming pools, can cause corrosive conditions that can be aggressive in nature. Stainless steel products within these types of environments should be cleaned and maintained more frequently. When chemicals are present, there are certain factors to take into consideration when dealing with stainless steel. For example many modern cleaning processes call for use of cleaners, sterilisers and bleached for sanitation purposes. This is especially true in commercial kitchen settings. These products are safe when used in accordance with the manufacturers’ instructions, but if they are used incorrectly, the result can be discolouration or corrosion to the surface of the material. Strong acidic cleaners or products should never be used on any metal products, including stainless steel. If this does happen, the area should be flushed continuously with fresh water.

Maintenance during Installation

After installing new stainless steel products, they should be thoroughly cleaned with regular cleaning procedures. If installation is for food handling, pharmaceutical purposes or aerospace applications, extremely high levels of cleanliness should be applied.

On Going Maintenance

Stainless steel products should be cleaned when dirty in order to restore their original appearance. The actually cleaning schedule can be anywhere from four times a year to once a day, depending on the use of the stainless steel product. For products such as counter spaces, utility sinks and like use products you should thoroughly clean them after each use. It is important when dealing with stainless steel to make sure that they are completely dried with a towel or clean, dry cloth to prevent water stains from developing.

Good Housekeeping during Manufacturing

When manufacturing stainless steel products it is important to prevent the contamination of the stainless steel by pick-up of carbon steel or free iron. This is the main reason why most stainless steel manufacturers prefer to have work areas and machinery dedicated only to stainless steel products. For work areas that also work with other steels, pick up of the carbon steel should be avoided from:

Working with tools that are used with other metals.

 

  • Wire brushes, Grinding Wheels and finishing belts.
  • Steel storage racks
  • Grinding or Welding spark contamination
  • Employees handling equipment
  • Carbon steel fabrication work done adjacently

Cleaning Methods

Stainless steel is an easy to clean metal. Using a mild soap or detergent and warm water, thoroughly clean the stainless steel surface. Rinse well with clean water. Using a clean, dry towel or cloth; wipe the surface dry to prevent water spot stains from forming.

Precautions

To keep stainless steel products looking their best there are certain precautions that one should take when dealing with chemicals used on their stainless steel products. Some chemicals that require special use when used on stainless steel products include acids, solvents and chlorides.

When you handle acids always wear gloves and safety glasses. Special care should be taken to guarantee that acids do not spill over to adjacent areas. Residue from acids should be flushed to carry them to a treated waste stream. When diluting, you should always add acid into water and not water into the acid. This can cause adverse reactions and splashing. Glass or plastic containers should always be used with acids. To guarantee that there is no dulling of the stainless steel surface, you should try a small test on an underside of the product that is not visible. When you are done with the cleaning process using the acid, make sure that you thoroughly rinse the cleaning solution from the stainless steel product.

Solvents should never be used in confined spaces to clean stainless steel. Often times they can omit harmful gases that can become harmful when inhaled. Smoking should be avoided when using solvents as cleaners.

Many cleaning agents contain chlorides. For any cleaners that contain chlorides, hypochlorites or bleaches that are used on stainless steel products, they must be cleaned off immediately following the cleaning process with clear water, followed by a thorough drying process.