Getting the Best out of Stainless Steel

Does stainless steel corrode?
Although stainless steel is much more resistant to corrosion than ordinary carbon or alloy steels, in some circumstances it can corrode. It is 'stain-less' not 'stain-impossible'. In normal atmospheric or water based environments, stainless steel will not corrode as demonstrated by domestic sink units, cutlery, saucepans and work-surfaces.

In more aggressive conditions, the basic types of stainless steel may corrode and a more highly alloyed stainless steel can be used.

For all your questions about Stainless steel please check this link of the British Stainless Steel Association Web Site

Cleaning methods for stainless steel

Stainless steel is easy to clean. Washing with soap or mild detergent and warm water followed by a clear water rinse is usually quite adequate for domestic and architectural equipment. Where stainless steel has become extremely dirty with signs of surface discolouration (perhaps following periods of neglect, or misuse) alternative methods of cleaning can be used, as outlined below.

Routine cleaning of light soiling

Soap, detergent or dilute (1%) ammonia solution in warm clean water. Apply with a clean sponge, soft cloth or soft-fibrebrush then rinse in clean water and dry6

Satisfactory on most surfaces


Detergent and warm water, alternatively, hydrocarbon solvent

Proprietary spray-applied polishes available to clean and minimise remarking

Oil and grease marks

Hydrocarbon solvents (methylated spirit, isopropyl alcohol or acetone) 2

Alkaline formulations are also available with surfactant additions e.g.'D7' Polish1

Stubborn spots, stains and light discolouration. Water marking. Light rust staining

Mild, non-scratching creams and polishes. Apply with soft cloth or soft sponge and rinse off residues with clean water and dry6,7.

Avoid cleaning pastes with abrasive additions3. Suitable cream cleansers are available with soft calcium carbonate additions, e.g. 'Jif', or with the addition of citric acid, e.g. Shiny Sinks1. Do not use chloride solutions8,9.

Localised rust stains caused by carbon steel contamination

Proprietary gels, or 10% phosphoric acid solution (followed by ammonia and water rinses), or oxalic acid solution (followed by water rinse).6

Small areas may be treated with a rubbing block comprising fine abrasive in a hard rubber or plastic filler. Carbon steel wool should not be used, nor should pads that have previously been used on carbon steel. A test should be carried out to ensure that the original surface finish is not damaged.

Burnt on food or carbon deposits

Pre-soak in hot water with detergent or ammonia solution. Remove deposits with nylon brush and fine scouring powder if necessary. Repeat if necessary and finish with 'routine cleaning'.

Abrasive souring powder can leave scratch marks on polished surfaces.

Tannin (tea) stains and oily deposits in coffee urns

Tannin stains - soak in a hot solution of washing soda i.e. sodium carbonate. Coffee deposits - soak in a hot solution of baking soda (sodium bicarbonate).

These solutions can also be applied with a soft cloth or sponge. Rinse with clean water. Satisfactory on most surfaces.

Adherent hard water scales and mortar/cement splashes

10-15 volume % solution of phosphoric acid. Use warm, neutralise with dilute ammonia solution, rinse with clean water and dry6. Alternatively soak in a 25% vinegar solution and use a nylon brush to remove deposits.

Proprietary formulations available with surfactant additions. Take special care when using hydrochloric acid based mortar removers 8,9.

Heating or heavy discolouration

a) Non-scratching cream or polish e.g. Solvol Auto Chrome Metal Polish 1,9 b) Nylon-type pad, e.g. 'Scotchbrite' 3,4,5

a)Creams are suitable for most finishes, but only use 'Solvol' on bright polished surfaces. Some slight scratching can be left. b)Use on brushed and polished finishes along the grain.

Badly neglected

A fine, abrasive paste as used for car

May brighten dull finishes. To avoid a patchy

surfaces with accumulated grime deposits

body refinishing, e.g. 'T-cut' rinsed clean to remove all paste material and dried1.

appearance, the whole surface may need to be treated.

Paint, graffiti

Proprietary alkaline or solvent paint strippers, depending upon paint type. Use soft nylon or bristle brush on patterned surfaces.​