Keeping Stainless Steel Clean to Retain its Shine


Stainless steel is an amazing material that offers a strong, waterproof, and attractive finish to a lot of kinds of products like hand-rails, appliances, tanks, and others. However, while stainless steel is known not to rust, it does not remain rust-free. That is why it must be cleaned, especially if exposed to outdoor elements. Also, when preparing stainless steel for finishing or fabrication, its surface must be clean. Whether you are in the market to buy steel Houston or steel products, you want to know how to maintain its shine.

What Makes Stainless Steel Stainless?

Stainless steel has a minimum of 10% percent chromium. As a highly reactive metal, the chromium on the surface of stainless steel oxidizes quickly, causing the formation of rust. This will occur when there is oxygen or water molecules in the atmosphere. The oxidized chromium molecules will form a thin, tight film which serves as a barrier against the surrounding air, preventing further steel oxidation.

However, when the protective film is damaged during the manufacturing process, the surface of stainless steel can form a heavy scale that could cause adhesion or welding failure. This flaw can be removed by applying a combination of acids to the surface. Usually, the solution includes nitric acid as it encourages the formation of a passivation layer.

How to Clean Stainless Steel

Below are some effective ways to clean stainless steel:

  • Preparing Metal Surface. When making a stainless steel product, the steel can form an oxide scale due to hot rolling, welding, thermal treatments, and brazing. Coolants and lubricants may be applied to the stainless while being cut and formed. Also, metal bits from cutting tools may embed into the surface. During handling and storage, shop dirt, grime, and fingerprints may accumulate on the stainless. It is important to remove these contaminants in the surface preparation process before the steel goes through processes such as welding, painting, priming, electro-static painting, and powder coating.

  • Cleaning Stainless Appliances. To clean the surface of stainless steel appliances, tanks, or vent hoods, it is essential to begin with the simplest solutions. This could mean applying a drop of dish soap, water, and a microfiber cloth with elbow grease. To prevent streaking, any leftover water must be dried off. To make sure the finish is shiny, a cloth with two drops of mineral oil must be rubbed with the metal grain. In case there is rust or cloudy oxidation on the surface, a non-toxic and non-acidic product must be used to eliminate the oxidation. Heavier stains, rust, mold, or grease will require the use of commercial stainless steel cleaners with a degreaser.

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