Stainless steel products are useful in many industries. Steel 316 alone is used for lab equipment, jet engines, food and drug processing, boat fittings, and chemical containers. These steels are resistant to corrosion, highly durable, and easily manipulated. And they are also quite simple to maintain. With the right tools and knowledge, you can keep your steel products strong and shining for years to come. Follow these simple tips to clean and care for your steel no matter your industry.
- Clean Regularly: As with many types of alloys, routine cleaning is a must and is quite straightforward. For basic, routine cleaning, simply apply warm soap and water to the metal surface with a sponge. You can also use gentle detergents for this job as well. For more intense stains, you may need to purchase special steel cleaners and polishes. Just be sure to avoid powders and other corrosive materials, as they could scratch and lead to rusting.
- Avoid Harsh Chemicals: As a rule, avoid any acidic cleaners or dilute them with water. Using too much acid can dull the surface of the steel. If you use acids or chlorides, be sure to rinse with warm water promptly afterward. Also avoid using solvents in small spaces or environments where there is fire, as these chemicals are highly flammable.
- Keep Metal Brushes Away: While it may seem efficient to scrub stubborn residue with steel wool or other metal brushes, these will scratch the surface of the steel. For all stainless steel grades, scratching can let rust and bacteria accumulate. This is especially important to pay attention to if you are using steel in food processing.
- Cover It Up: When you are not using the steel appliance or machine, cover it with a sheet or tarp if possible. This will keep any debris from falling on it and maintain its cleanliness while not in operation.
No matter their strength and environmental resistance, all grades of steel need some level of maintenance. As you use the steel, pay attention to corrosion and damage. Otherwise, the material will eventually reach a point where it requires replacement. Be sure to address this as soon as possible, as waiting may hinder function.