Stainless steel, also known as inox steel, is a type of alloy steel that’s made with a minimum of 10.5% chromium. The presence of chromium helps to protect against the otherwise destructive formation of rust and corrosion. As such, many manufacturing facilities prefer stainless steel equipment over other types of metals. But even stainless steel must be cleaned on a regular basis to preserve its clean appearance and attractive characteristics.
So, what’s the best way to clean stainless steel? The safest technique is to use warm water. Depending on what exactly you are cleaning, a washcloth soaked in warm water may suffice. Using the washcloth, scrub the stainless steel until all visible dirt and grime is removed. To help minimize the appearance of mineral deposits, it’s recommended that you wipe in the same direction of the polish lines currently on the stainless steel. And when you are finished, go back over the metal with a lint-free microfiber cloth to remove any excess moisture.
Water alone isn’t always enough to clean stainless steel. If there’s grime “caked” onto the surface, it may require a stronger, more powerful solution. There are dozens upon dozens of cleaning products on the market designed specifically for stainless steel. However, few things beat good old fashioned vinegar. Due to its highly acidic properties, vinegar is able to eat through tough dirt and grime, leaving behind a pristine stainless steel surface that’s looks like new.
To clean stainless steel using vinegar, simply pour a small amount of vinegar on the washcloth and use this washcloth to wipe down the stainless steel surface. Vinegar has antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal properties, meaning it will also sanitize stainless steel — something that’s not available in water. This makes it particularly useful for machines and equipment that people touch on a regular basis.
Of course, you can always use a stainless steel cleaning product to clean your steel machines and equipment. Before using any commercial-grade steel cleaner, however, it’s recommended that you test it in a small area to see how it works. If it causes discoloration, fading, chipping, rusting or other damage, it’s best to choose a different product.