Getting The Most For The Metal You Use
Since stainless steel appliances made the transition from restaurants and institutional kitchens to our homes relatively recently, we didn’t have a chance to learn how to clean them. And even if we had, their instructions probably would have included stainless steel polish, which usually contains acids and other chemicals that aren’t very safe for people or the environment. Fortunately, harsh chemicals just aren’t necessary for making stainless steel sparkle. Several cleaning methods, listed below from least to most intensive, use nothing but all-natural household products.
Did you know that if you wanted everything in your kitchen to be stainless steel, it would be absolutely no problem at all? The consumer demand for stainless steel appliances and gadgets wasn’t always so high. The spike in stainless steel’s popularity is probably due to a combination of factors: it’s hygienic, easy to maintain, and more eco-friendly than plastic. Plus, it’s shiny. With most products being made from stainless steel, it’s no wonder that large companies like envirotech-europe.com use highly intensive solvents to clean their medical and aerospace equipment.
- The gentlest method of cleaning stainless steel is to simply wipe the surface with hot water and a soft, clean cloth. Then dry the metal thoroughly with another soft cloth to prevent water spots. When using this or any of the other methods, remember that stainless steel has a “grain”—tiny grooves running in one direction across the surface of the metal—and it’s best to clean with the grain rather than scrubbing across it. Some people will tell you that this is to avoid scratching the metal or lodging particles of dirt in the grain where they can cause rust to form. This may very well be true, but scrubbing with the grain also seems easier and more effective.
- If plain water leaves behind some dirt or grease, try adding a gentle detergent to the water. Use naturally derived, biodegradable dish soap, and found that it removed a little of what water alone had missed, including some grease. If you’re cleaning stainless steel pans or tableware, this is the best method to use. Cooked-on food can usually be removed by soaking the pan in the soapy water and using a sponge with a gentle scrubbing pad.
- Don’t get impatient and use steel wool; it can scratch stainless steel or leave behind particles that may rust. And again, remember to rinse and hand-dry the stainless steel after cleaning.
- Grease can be dissolved with rubbing alcohol on a soft cloth. I was impressed with how well this took the grease off my pizza oven. Some of the thicker deposits didn’t respond to a once-over with the cloth, but if you keep rubbing at them with the alcohol, and they will disappear completely within a couple of minutes. As with the other methods, it’s important to rinse off the alcohol and dry the metal to make it shine.
Stainless steel is a steel alloy containing at least 10.5% chromium. When chromium comes into contact with oxygen in the air, it forms chromium oxide, so a thin layer of chromium oxide always sits like a skin over the surface of stainless steel, protecting it from dirt and moisture. This is what makes stainless steel “stainless,” meaning it usually comes clean easily and rarely rusts. It is not, however, impossible for stainless steel to stain or rust. If food or dirt is allowed to sit on stainless steel for a long time, it can hold moisture or acids against the surface of the metal and cause it to corrode or retain some of the colour of the grime. This is why it’s important to clean stainless steel on a regular basis