Stainless steel is a remarkably durable construction material that, when properly specified and installed, will last indefinitely. However, the accumulation of dirt and other contaminants warrant occasional cleaning in order to maintain stainless steel’s original appearance. While exterior applications not subjected to pedestrian contact will seldom require frequent cleaning, high traffic areas undoubtedly require more attention.
We are prepared to offer specific guidance in the event a particular contamination problem cannot be resolved using the methods described here. As with cleaning any material, it is best to try a hidden test area with the proposed cleaning method to be sure no unintended consequences occur. If there is doubt as to your ability to perform a particular stainless steel cleaning regimen, it is advisable to consult a professional cleaning service that has experience with stainless steel.
What to Avoid
Cleaning the surface of decorative stainless steel requires care. There are certain mechanical and chemical treatments that must be avoided in order to preserve the appearance and corrosion resistance of this material:
In all cases, it is best to use a clean soft cloth if you need to manually loosen contaminants when applying cleaning solutions. If scrubbing and scraping must be attempted, the softest utensil possible (soft bristle brush or plastic scraper, for example) should be tried in a small, hidden test area before proceeding. In the case of a grained finish, wiping with the grain is advisable. The following methods are effective for general cleaning:
Grease, Tar, Sap or Chewing Gum
After using one of the treatments below, it may be necessary to wash the area with detergent and rinse to remove unwanted residue:
Glass cleaner with a soft cotton cloth can usually remove fingerprints. However, if that is not sufficient, there are a number of commercially available stainless steel cleaners that are very effective in addressing fingerprints, including:
If a slight stain remains on the surface after using the products indicated below, try a second treatment. If that is not sufficient, a stain removal effort (as indicated above) may be effective. After using an alcohol or solvent treatment, it may be likely necessary to wash the area with detergent and rinse to remove unwanted residue.
In the case of unwanted paint on the surface of stainless steel, the good news is that solvents can remove paint without damaging the stainless steel underneath. While removal of aged paint is possible, it is best to initiate cleanup as soon as possible after spatter or overspray occurs. If a slight stain remains on the surface that will not disappear after a second paint remover treatment, a stain removal effort (as indicated above) may be effective. After using a solvent treatment, it may be necessary to wash the area with detergent and rinse to remove unwanted residue.
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