Stainless steel is comprised of 90% steel and 10% chromium, which helps to protect the steel. It’s an extremely durable material that does not corrode or rust, but despite its moniker, stainless steel can still become dirty with smudges, fingerprints and gunk that can stick to it. Stainless steel appliances can give kitchens a sleeker and more modern look and feel, but they need to be cleaned often to keep up their shine and luster. Stainless steel also needs to be cleaned to prevent corrosion. Oxygen from the atmosphere combines with the chromium in the stainless steel to form a passive chromium oxide film that protects the object from further corrosion. Any contamination on the surface by dirt or oils hampers this process and traps corrosive agents, reducing corrosion protection. Cleaning stainless steel doesn’t have to be difficult, expensive, or harmful to your health and the environment; in fact, all that you need is probably sitting in your pantry right now. These solutions can be used to clean everything from refrigerators and ovens, to countertops to pots and pans.
1. Baking Soda
This common baking ingredient also provides an inexpensive and nontoxic alternative to
chemical metal cleaners. Polish and clean stainless steel using a gentle scouring paste of
3 tablespoons baking soda, and enough water to reach a consistency that’s not too runny or too thick. Rub the mixture over the surface with a sponge and then rinse thebaking soda off with water.
Distilled white vinegar naturally removes spots from the surface of stainless steel. Soak a sponge or a soft cloth with white vinegar and rub it over the surface. Rinse the area withwater and pat dry. Vinegar is a strong acid and can corrode mineral deposits and acetate fibers, so dilute it when used on any material that may surround the stainless steel
surface. As a precaution, test a small amount of the mixture on an inconspicuous area to
check for discoloration. The vinegar smell will disappear when it dries.
Olive Oil or Club Soda
After cleaning the spills and debris off the stainless steel surface with baking soda or vinegar, follow up with a polish made of olive oil or club soda to remove streaks. Dampen a clean sponge or soft, lint-free cloth with a bit of olive oil or club soda, and rub it over the metal surface until the streaks disappear. When using olive oil, if the surface appears too shiny, absorb some of the oil with a dry, lint-free cloth or paper towel.
3. Rubbing Alcohol
When stainless steel comes in contact with grease from cooking, you may notice a sticky film on the surface. Pour some rubbing alcohol on a soft cloth, and the film will disappear. Be sure to wipe the alcohol off with warm water afterwards.
4. For Pots and Pans
1/2 C White Vinegar
1 Tbsp Baking Soda
6″ Square Aluminum Foil
Place the aluminum foil in the pot or pan, and then add the vinegar. Add the baking soda, and swirl the pan around so the baking soda gets evenly distributed. While the solution is bubbling, gently rub the stain with the aluminum foil without scratching the pan’s surface/finish. Rinse with water and dry thoroughly with a dish towel.
5. Harmful Ingredients to Avoid
Many commercial products designed for cleaning metal contain harsh chemical ingredients that can damage health by releasing volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into the air. Avoid products labeled as poisonous, corrosive, chemically reactive or flammable, an indication of how dangerously toxic they are.
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