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How To Clean Stainless Steel

11 May 2016

As stainless steel fabricators, we are often asked about the best way to clean stainless steel.

The good news is that stainless steel is simple and easy to clean and you’ll be rewarded with years of high-performance and good looks from your stainless steel product if you follow a programme of routine, gentle cleaning.

Obviously the frequency of your cleaning regime will be determined by the particular application (i.e. domestic, architectural or industrial sheet metal), but if you follow these few simple, easy steps, it’s easy to keep your stainless steel surfaces looking as good as new.

 Routine cleaning Wash with soap or mild detergent and warm water, then rise with clean water and wipe dry or use an air blower to avoid streaking.  If cleaning brushed stainless steel, follow the direction of the polish.  A one percent ammonia solution can be used but bleach or chlorides should be avoided.
Fingerprints, oil marks, grease Use detergent and warm water or a hydrocarbon solvent, for example methylated spirits or acetone.  You can also use a small amount of alcohol or mineral turpentine.  Then rinse with clean water and dry.
Stubborn marks, light discolouration/rust Apply a mild, non-scratch cream cleanser or chalk-based cleaner (no chloride solutions) using a soft absorbent cloth or sponge.  Rinse with clean water and dry.
Localised rust stains These can be caused by contact with mild/carbon steel and can be removed by proprietary gels, a 10% phosphoric acid solution or an oxalic acid solution.  Use only according to the manufacturer’s instructions and always test on a small, unobtrusive surface first and rinse well with clean water.
Tannin or coffee stains Soak in hot water with detergent, or a solution of baking soda (sodium bicarbonate).  Rinse well.
Limescale Soak in hot water and 25% vinegar solution, then rinse with a solution of bicarbonate of soda and warm water or 1% ammonia.  Finally, rinse well with clean water.
Stubborn deposits Use a non-scratching cream or polish, a nylon pad or a fine, abrasive paste to get rid of accumulated grime.    If required, you can use an oven cleaner containing caustic soda.


Here are some important do’s and don’ts:


  • Do use a nylon brush or synthetic scouring pad
  • Do rub in the same direction as the grain
  • Do follow manufacturers’ recommendations and take safety precautions


  • Don’t use steel wool, metallic scourers or a metal scraper. These can damage the surface and cause it to rust.
  • Don’t use chloride-rich chemicals or hydrochloric acid-based cleaning products
  • Don’t use bleach
  • Don’t use cleaning cloths/scourers that have been used previously on ordinary steel surfaces
  • Don’t use abrasive powders

Routine cleaning of stainless steel should prevent stubborn stains from building up but depending on the application, the metal may become discoloured.  Careful attention and prompt action should prevent serious staining, but if you have any questions about how to clean your stainless steel, we would be delighted to help.  With almost 30 years of experience in specialist steel fabrication in Perth, we have all the answers – so please give us a call on 08 9377 3778.

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