Handrail Solution's Guide to the
Cleaning & Maintenance of Stainless Steel
Like all surfaces, stainless steel requires cleaning to remove dirt and grime to keep it in pristine condition. The level of cleaning and maintenance depends primarily on the environment. In some exterior instances normal rain washing is sufficient, e.g. roofing, but more polluted or corrosive environments, e.g. coastal situations, the surfaces require regular washing to retain their good looks. The type of finish can also influence the cleaning requirements, and it is recommended that the rougher the surface the more regularly cleaning is required. For example, Stainless Steel Wire has a rough surface that harbours corrosive agents which causes discolouration relatively quickly. Regular cleaning is required to remove this.
Discolouration, or 'tea staining', most commonly occurs within 5 kilometres of the coast and becomes progressively worse the closer it is to the water. Note that in situations right on the seafront, it is recommended that cleaning is performed once a month.
Dirt and grease accumulate from many sources. They can usually be removed by routine cleaning using soap, ammonia or detergent and warm water. It should be noted that nearly all abrasive cleaners will scratch bright polished stainless steel surfaces. On other finishes the cleaners should only be used in the direction of the polish. A clean, dust and grit free cloth should be used to avoid scratching. In all cases the mildest cleaning procedure that will do the job efficiently should be used, e.g. wash down with warm water and washing up liquid followed by a wash of clean warm water only followed by wiping dry with a clean absorbent cloth. For textured and rigidized finishes a nylon bristled brush will remove any dirt and grime which may accumulate in the valleys of the textured finish. After initial installation, the stainless steel will require thorough cleaning to remove any adhesive – either from the protective coating or other building operations – that may have been left on the surface. If marks such as fingerprints etc are a continuous problem a light surface coating of baby oil, clear silicone wax polish or furniture polish such as Neopol will help prevent recurrence of this problem. Care should be taken on choosing such a product to be used on the surface of stainless steel if clothing is likely to come into contact with the surface.
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