Despite the fact that it is called “stainless” steel, Lynton Cleaning Services knows that this material for kitchen appliances, sinks and fixtures occasionally does not live up to its name. On a stainless-steel kitchen sink, for example, you may have had a cleaning mishap that can leave brown stains on the metal. Stains can also sometimes result when a spray cleaner is applied to the metal but isn’t rinsed away properly. There are other mistakes you can make with stainless steel that can leave stains. These stains can be stubborn, but fortunately there are ways to clean them away.
How to Remove Stains from Stainless Steel
Cleaning stainless steel can sometimes come across as being difficult since the shiny material can be scratched easily. This is less problematic with a matte-finish surface, like that found on some sinks, but shiny stainless steel requires some care to remove stains without scratching the finish. Fortunately, stainless steel is a very resilient material that responds well to several different cleaning techniques.
First, examine your stainless-steel surface and determine if it has a “grain” pattern. While the metal itself is solid, the process by which the manufacturer polished the surface may leave it with faint directional scratches. Whenever you scrub at a stainless-steel surface—even if using so-called “non-scratch” pads—you should rub at the stains in the same direction as whatever grain is already present on the surface.
Here are four methods you can try for removing stains from stainless steel. Run through these solutions in order, as they are listed in order of how likely they are to damage the surface, with safest solutions first.
Many stains will be lifted from stainless steel by the action of steam vapours.
- Heat water to boiling in a kettle with a spout that will allow you to pour it.
- Place a paper towel or microfiber towel over the stained surface.
- Pour enough of the boiling water onto the paper towel to wet it. Allow it to steam to work for five to 10 minutes.
- Once the surface has cooled, rub the surface with the paper towel, moving with the direction of the grain. If this doesn’t remove the stain, try the next solution.
Baking Soda and Dish Soap
Baking soda mixed with liquid dish soap can make a good paste to gently rub out stains. Baking soda is a very fine abrasive that is unlikely to seriously scratch the stainless-steel surface.
- Apply the mixture of baking soda and liquid dish soap to a microfiber cloth or another soft cloth, then rub at the stain, moving back and forth in the same directions as the grain in the metal.
- After scrubbing, rinse the stainless-steel surface thoroughly, and towel it dry.
- Examine the surface. If this hasn’t removed the stain, try the next technique.
The next thing to try is vinegar.
- Pour a little white vinegar onto the stained surface.
- Let it sit for a few minutes; the gentle acid in the vinegar may lift out the stains.
- Rub the stained with a soft cloth, following the grain of the steel.
- Rinse thoroughly and dry the surface with a clean towel.
- Examine the stained area; if discoloration still is present, move on to the last solution.
Stainless Steel Cleaner
As a last resort, if the stains still don’t budge, try a stainless steel cleaner and polisher. Be sure to follow the directions, rinse thoroughly, and towel dry.
Tips for Preventing Stains on Stainless Steel
Rather than removing stains, the best remedy is preventing them. To avoid the problem in the first place. Here are some tips to help you prevent stains on stainless steel:
- Never use bleach or anything containing chlorine on stainless steel. Avoid spraying a chlorine bleach product nearby or allowing bleach to drip onto stainless steel surfaces.
- Don’t use oven cleaners around stainless steel. When using oven cleaners, shield stainless steel surfaces from exposure.
- Don’t use standard abrasive cleaners on stainless steel and prevent them from even contacting the metal.
- Never use steel wool, wire brushes, or other abrasive cleaning tools on stainless steel. Non-scratch vinyl scrubbing pads can be used.