Stainless, rust-free or rust-resistant steel are not material that are easy to clean and are ideal for hygienic applications such as kitchens, the food industry, pharmaceutical industry, etc. This accounts for their continuing popularity.
Stainless steel needs occasional maintenance
If stainless steel gets dirty - provided of course that the correct material quality is chosen - it is not so much damaged by the belt, but by external contaminants that attach to the stainless steel and can start to rust or cause rust. A typical example would be a wall cladding for external use close to a busy railway line. After a few months, these panels will exhibit corrosion because of the minuscule particles of iron in the air. That is not an immediate problem for rust-free steel but it is advisable in this case to wipe off the dirt of the steel or clean it.
Rust-resistant steel has a reputation for not needing maintenance and stainless steel is very easy to maintain, though this does not mean that it is completely maintenance-free. Any contaminant is a problem for stainless steel and is best removed. It is usually sufficient to undertake maintenance once or twice a year, depending of course on the level of contamination in the environment. People such as architects who draw up specifications should prepare or request a maintenance plan if they are using stainless steel outside. Aside from the maintenance that stainless steel needs to prevent corrosion forming, there are naturally appearance and hygiene aspects to consider. A working surface in the kitchen must be cleaned frequently.
Tips for cleaning
- In the home, where the basic materials generally have a polished or brushed finish, cleaning is best done with a cloth or sponge moving in the direction of the polishing or brushing.
- NEVER use abrasive sponges or products. A soft cloth, sponge or damp microfibre cloth is ideal, but certainly not abrasive sponges. Also watch out for abrasive detergents touted in advertisements as wonder substances. These are generally unsuitable for stainless steel. Products based on chlorine are also unsuitable.
- There are lots of good stainless steel cleaners on the market, especially for cleaning and maintaining rust-free steel. Some of them leave a kind of film on the surface. Most give good results but the disadvantage is that they cannot be found on the shelves of normal supermarkets - you have to go to specialists or stainless steel finishers. Usually even this is not necessary; soapy water and a little household detergent or glass cleaner is usually enough.
- Dry the stainless steel after cleaning. There are often traces of lime left behind by the water droplets. Here too you should work in the direction of polishing.