Admin on July 8, 2015 19 Comments Though it seems like a tedious task, your stainless steel absolutely must be cleaned regularly–and correctly! Your stainless steel appliances and products need to be cleaned in order to maintain their aesthetic appearance as well as to preserve their corrosion resistance. A thin layer of chromium oxide is what protects the stainless steel and provides a defense against tarnishing and rusting. Oxygen from the environment joins with the chromium in the stainless steel to create this enduring film that protects it from additional erosion. With proper attention, this film can provide protection of your stainless steel appliances for many years. However, the integrity of the film can be damaged easily by dirt and other contaminants, so it is critical that you keep stainless steel clean. For that reason, some practice of regular cleaning is essential to maintain the condition and durability of the steel surface. While this might seem overwhelming, cleaning stainless steel appliances correctly is actually a simple process. Luckily, stainless steel is durable and not prone to chipping like porcelain or enamel. Stainless steel is a remarkably resilient substance utilized for an extensive range of household appliances. However, it does scratch easily. Unfortunately, people make common mistakes when cleaning stainless steel that can damage it. Below, we have outlined the top 7 most common mistakes people make that damage their stainless steel appliances. 1. Using Abrasive Cleaners Because stainless steel is easily scratched, you should avoid using abrasive cleaners on it. The granules in some of these cleaners may scratch and damage the grain of the steel. While abrasive cleaners are effective for removing dirt, stains and fingerprints, they are likely to scratch the surface of your stainless steel product, making it appear dull and aged. A neutral detergent low in chloride is better for the appliance. Fast-acting, non-abrasive cleaners will still polish and brighten your stainless steel appliances. Just make sure to follow the cleaning process by thoroughly rinsing it with clean water and wiping it with a dry soft cloth to prevent water streaking. 2. Not Wiping in the Direction of the Grain When cleaning and polishing, always rub along the natural grain of the metal. This method enables you to clean the microscopic grooves where dirt, grime and dust can get trapped. This also goes for polished stainless steel appliances and products. On polished surfaces, make sure to wipe and rub only in the direction of the polish lines–never across them–to avoid dulling your product. 3. Leaving Items in the Sink Although it is usually tempting to leave your pots, pans and dirty dishwater in your stainless steel sink, this is a costly mistake. The grime on your cookware can leave stains and streaks that are difficult to remove, and the longer the mess sits, the more difficult the cleaning becomes. Filthy, sitting water has the same effect. After you clean your cookware, it is also important that you thoroughly remove all traces of any cleaning products that you used and wipe down the sink to remove any leftover food and grime. 4. Using Chlorine and Bleach While bleach may initially make your stainless steel appliances shine, it will ultimately ruin the finish. In fact, many manufacturers caution against using harsh chemical products like chlorine or bleach on your stainless steel appliances. These types of harsh chemicals will cause surface pitting that can trap contaminants. Avoid alcohol and glass cleaners because these products will leave streaks and discolor the outer protective layer of the surface. You should also never mix two chemical cleaners together because this can create dangerous fumes. 5. Using Steel Wool, Steel Brushes or Highly Abrasive Cleaning Pads Never scrub your appliances with an abrasive sponge. These kinds of abrasive agents will scratch the grain of the steel and make your beautiful appliances appear dull. Steel wool may be ideal to clean other items in your kitchen, but it is too abrasive for your stainless steel. You should also avoid conventional steel brushes as their bristles can break apart and deposit small carbon remnants that become embedded in the steel. The particles will rust and create the appearance that the appliance is rusting. When you clean, use non-abrasive tools such as paper towels or soft microfiber cloths. Mesh and soft sponges work well if you need extra scrubbing power. Make sure to follow the cleaning by buffing with a soft, clean and dry cloth to remove any residue remaining on the surface. 6. Cleaning With Extremely Hard Water Stainless steel easily stains from heat and hard water. However, since you usually cannot change the kind of water that your house or apartment gets, this is unfortunately a problem that you may have to live with. Regardless of the type of water you use to clean your stainless steel appliances, always dry the products with a clean and soft cloth immediately to prevent the spots and streaks that hard water can leave behind. 7. Letting Grime Sit Your appliances will look new much longer if you wipe up spills with a damp rag or paper towel before they have an opportunity to set. Kitchen grease, dirt, grime and gunk tend to stick to stainless steel appliances if not cleaned up quickly and left to dry. The priority is to avoid scrubbing. While you can scrub stainless steel, this will harm its grain. Instead, clean small messes immediately with just a little water and a soft cloth. Leaving food deposits on the stainless steel will cause damage and make the cleaning process much more difficult. Don’t think that you have to do a complete cleaning right away. Just rubbing the product off with a little bit of warm water is enough before you have time to thoroughly clean and polish the area. Depending on the type of spill, stainless steel will easily resist the majority of stains. However, it is always recommended to wipe up splatters and residue as soon as they occur. While you most likely can clean a stain after it sets, it will mean more work for you with either harsh cleaners or abrasive brushes. Routine cleaning of your stainless steel appliances will help keep them looking beautiful for many years. Remember that just washing with a mild detergent and warm water followed by a rinse is usually enough to clean up a mess and keep your appliances from staining. Wipe away water spots, go with the grain, avoid abrasive cleaners and sponges and make cleaning a habit. Regular cleaning is essential for maximum resistance to corrosion.