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Shining Stainless Steel Appliances and Sinks to Perfection

March 3, 2024
Shining Stainless Steel Appliances and Sinks to Perfection

Stainless steel is a popular material for kitchen appliances and sinks because of its sleek, modern look and excellent durability. However, like any surface, stainless steel requires proper cleaning and maintenance to keep it looking its best. Here are my tips for making stainless steel shine.

Cleaning Products to Avoid

When cleaning stainless steel, it’s important to avoid abrasive cleaners and scrubbers. Chlorine bleach and other cleaners containing chlorine should also be avoided, as they can damage the protective chromium oxide layer on stainless steel.

Some specific products to avoid include:

  • Scouring powders – These abrasive cleaners will scratch the surface.
  • Steel wool pads – Iron particles from the pads can embed in the stainless steel.
  • Oven cleaners – Often contain harsh caustic chemicals.
  • Ammonia-based cleaners – Can leave a dull, gray surface finish.
  • Vinegar – Has an acidic pH that can break down the chromium oxide layer.

Sticking to gentler, pH-neutral cleaners designed for stainless steel is your best bet.

Recommended Cleaners and Tools

Here are some of my favorite products for safely cleaning stainless steel:

  • Warm water, mild dish soap, and soft cloths – This simple solution is effective for routine cleaning.
  • Stainless steel spray cleaners – These can help restore shine and protect the surface. Barkeepers Friend is a popular brand.
  • Microfiber cloths or sponges – The soft, non-abrasive texture won’t scratch.
  • Nylon scrub pads – For tougher grime, these won’t scratch like metal scouring pads.

I also recommend using separate cloths or sponges just for stainless steel to prevent cross-contamination from other cleaner residues.

Cleaning and Polishing Techniques

When cleaning stainless steel appliances and sinks, some key techniques will help them shine:

  • Always rub gently with the grain of the brushed finish. Scrubbing across the grain can leave scratch marks.
  • Remove water spots and fingerprints using warm water and a degreasing cleaner. These are common culprits behind a dull look.
  • Use a stainless steel polish occasionally to help maintain the protective layer and enhance brightness. Apply with a soft cloth.
  • For sinks, treating with a protective wax can help repel water and prevent spots. Use a food-safe product made for stainless steel.
  • If discoloration occurs, try a stainless steel cleanser containing oxalic or phosphoric acid to restore the chrome oxide layer.

With proper regular cleaning and occasional polishing, your stainless steel can maintain its luster for years to come. Avoid letting grime or big messes set in, as those become much harder to remove. A little elbow grease pays off!

When to Call a Professional

While routine cleaning of stainless steel is straightforward, sometimes neglected surfaces develop stubborn stains or scratches that require a pro’s help.

Consider calling an appliance repair technician if you notice:

  • Rust or corrosion – This suggests damage to the chromium oxide layer that requires repair.
  • Etching or pitting – Harsh cleaners can eat away the surface. Refinishing may be needed.
  • Significant scratches – Deep grooves require expert polishing or brushing to remove.
  • Discoloration that won’t lift – Set-in stains sometimes require professional-strength cleaners.

Refurbishing severely neglected stainless steel is costly, so it’s always better to stay on top of regular care. But know when to call in backup if your efforts aren’t succeeding. With the right approach, your stainless can shine eternally!

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