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The 8 Do’s and Don’ts for Cleaning Stainless Steel

February 24, 2020

If you’ve recently discovered that your once shining stainless steel is now dull and grimy, then it’s time for a change.

It’s true that stainless steel is sturdy and, overall, easy to maintain – but what about cleaning stainless steel? There are some important do’s and don’ts to consider when caring for stainless steel appliances, sinks, cabinets, and cookware. Let’s find out what they are!

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Do’s for Cleaning Stainless Steel

DO use a non-abrasive cleaner.
Bar Keepers Friend Cleanser, Bar Keepers Friend Soft Cleanser, and Bar Keepers Friend MORE Spray+Foam are perfect for regularly cleaning stainless steel sinks and cookware. Each of these products is non-abrasive and won’t harm the chrome oxide barrier when used properly. Make sure to rinse off cleanser thoroughly with water and wipe product dry to prevent streaking. Stainless steel appliances, in particular, will benefit from our Stainless Steel Cleanser & Polish. Many manufacturers, including GE Appliances, recommend Bar Keepers Friend for cleaning their products.

DO remember that not all stainless steel is created equal.
Stainless steel is comprised of a variety of different elements including carbon, chromium, nickel, manganese, silicone, phosphorous, sulfur, and nitrogen. There are approximately 150 grades of stainless steel, each of which is made of a different mixture of elements. In addition, many appliances have special coatings or finishes. These variances make it extra important to follow manufacturers’ care instructions and to test cleansers on a small spot first.

DO clean up messes quickly.
Sometimes, all it takes to clean a mess is a few moments with Bar Keepers Friend and a soft cloth. Wipe up spills as they happen and you won’t have to worry about scratches and stains.

DO practice patience.
Let the pan cool down before attempting to clean it.

DO clean with grain when cleaning stainless steel.
Clean, wipe, or polish stainless steel in the direction of the grain and not across it. This method ensures that you won’t dull or scratch your product. It also helps to clean out the grooves where dirt and grime get trapped.

DO wait until the water boils before salting.
Wait just a few minutes for the water to boil before adding salt. That little bit of extra time can save your stainless steel cookware.

DO use the right tools.
Microfiber cloths and non-abrasive sponges are the best tools to use to clean stainless steel.

DO remove hard water stains as soon as you see them.
The calcium build-up from hard water stains not only looks bad, but it hinders cooking and can hide bacteria. Bar Keepers Friend Cleanser contains oxalic acid, which breaks down and removes calcium deposits from hard water. Better still, it is non-abrasive, so it safe for stainless steel. Make sure to always dry your stainless steel with a soft cloth or towel in order to keep moisture from sitting on the surface. Any moisture that remains on your stainless steel will hinder the protective chrome oxide film from regenerating.


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Don’ts for Cleaning Stainless Steel

DON’T use chlorine bleach, chloride, oven cleaner, or other abrasive cleaners.
Many different cleaners contain chlorides or chlorine. These chemicals and other abrasive cleaners will cause surface pitting. They can also strip the protective chrome oxide barrier from stainless steel. This barrier is what makes stainless steel so durable. Make sure to read labels and know what they contain before using any cleaning products. If you accidentally get chlorine on stainless steel, be sure to wash it off quickly and thoroughly.

DON’T forget to review the manufacturer’s manual.
Whenever you purchase a new appliance, sink, or cookware, you will oftentimes receive a manual that instructs you how to care for your stainless steel product. No one knows their product better than the manufacturer, so it is important that you read their manual and follow its instructions for use. Many manufacturers also have their manuals and care instructions online, which is perfect for a quick double-check before you do something you might later regret.

DON’T leave things sitting in a stainless steel sink.
Plates, silverware, and cookware that are left to sit in a stainless steel sink can leave behind streaks and scratches. While doing dishes may not be the way that you want to spend your time after dinner, it could save your sink.

DON’T clean a stainless steel pan unless it is cool to the touch.
Exposing a hot pan to cold water can warp or crack it.

DON’T wipe against the grain.
Cleaning against the grain can scratch the surface of stainless steel.

DON’T saltwater in a pan before boiling.
Putting salt in a stainless steel pot containing water before heating it can cause pitting of the metal. Pitting is irreversible and can lead to spots of rust later.

DON’T use steel wool or scrub brushes on stainless steel.
Stainless steel is easily scratched and using abrasive cleaning products will harm and dull the finish. Steel wool and scrub brushes can also leave behind tiny particles that may later rust.

DON’T ignore chalky, white build-up.
Are you noticing a chalky, white build up on your stainless sink or cookware? That unsightly film is hard water deposits and they can harm your stainless steel. Hard water deposits can occur from putting your cookware in the dishwasher. This build-up can also occur when water sits on the surface of cookware because it is not towel dried after washing. While you want to remove hard water deposits, do not use abrasive cleaners or cleaning products.

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