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How to Maintain Your Restaurant’s Stainless Steel Equipment for a Lifetime

We perform a lot of custom design stainless steel installation projects for restaurants in the Perth area. Stainless steel is noted for its anti-corrosive properties. This makes stainless steel the easiest to keep clean. That is why stainless steel is mandated for so many applications requiring high sanitation standards.

The Science of Stainless Steel

To understand how to maintain stainless steel, it is helpful to know what makes it stainless steel in the first place. There are various types of stainless steel; essentially, stainless steel is a steel alloy containing at least 12% chromium. The chromium interacts with the oxygen in the air to create a thin layer or film of oxide on the surface.

Maintain Restaurant Stainless Steel Equipment

The result is a material that is easily workable, durable, easy to clean and cost effective. As long as the surface is cleaned daily and in the right way, it will never rust or corrode. It is resistant to bacteria because the surface is not porous and doesn’t corrode, leaving bacteria and fungi no place to colonise. This is what makes stainless steel such a great surface for food contact.

But there is a downside. If the surface is not kept clean and free of scratches, it loses its anti-corrosive properties and can become just like any other surface. Anything that keeps the surface chromium from interacting with air can cause it to lose its protective layer.

In other words, stainless steel needs to be cleaned often. Unlike many materials, regular cleaning doesn’t degrade stainless steel in any way. There is no such thing as cleaning stainless steel “too often” because the chromium layer isn’t compromised by cleaning—as long as it’s done correctly. Here’s how to keep your stainless steel clean.

How to Clean Your Stainless Steel Equipment

The best way to clean stainless steel is with a wet cloth and a mild detergent. You can often clean it with nothing but water, but soap is often necessary. Just remember to keep the detergent or soap mild.

You will notice that many stainless steel products have a direction or grain to their finish. If they do, always wipe with the grain. If you wipe against the grain, especially with a pad, you can damage the finish. Never use any abrasive pad or cleaners on stainless steel.

If a cleanser isn’t enough, you can make a paste out of baking soda and water. This paste is non-abrasive but provides a bit more “leverage” for cleaning the surface. You can also use a cream cleanser, but make sure that it is not abrasive.

Always remember that time is of the essence if you have a spill. The faster you clean spills, the less chance there is of your surface being damaged or stained. If the food is acidic, it can damage the chromium layer, turning your stainless steel into an ordinary material. Another reason to address spills immediately is that you don’t want to give them time to dry onto the surface. The sooner you clean a spill, the easier it is to clean.

Believe it or not, fingerprints can be dangerous to stainless steel. The oil from fingerprints can cause tarnishing or etching to occur. This is especially true with finishes polished to a mirror finish. At the end of every day, a glass cleaner should be used to remove all fingerprints from any stainless steel surface.

After cleaning, be sure to dry the surface immediately. If your water is too hard, it can damage the surface. All you have to do is dry the surface and it’s “no worries.”

How Not to Clean Stainless Steel Equipment

Do not ever use chlorine in any form, including bleach, on stainless steel. It breaks down the chromium layer, removing all of the benefits of a stainless steel surface. Use ammonia instead.

Also, as we mentioned earlier, never use an abrasive pad such as steel wool or Brillo. You can use a pad or brush made of a soft material like nylon or soft plastic if you really need the extra scrubbing power.

Don’t use a stainless steel cleaner or polish unless the surface is already damaged. Then it acts as a protective coating.

Call 1300 794 647 to learn more.

About Paul

Paul Bartlett is the owner and director of Western Stainless Solutions. He has a passionate commitment to personally seeing each project through from conception to completion. Mr Bartlett has owned Western Stainless Solutions since 2005. He had prior experience as a foreman for Caterlink, where he learned to fit out numerous restaurants with stainless steel equipment.

With Western Stainless Solutions, Mr Bartlett has overseen numerous large projects, always getting them finished on time and on budget. His favourite projects include:

  • Fiona Stanley Hospital
  • Joondalup Health Campus
  • Coles Inglewood
  • Woolworths Yanchep
  • Mt Barker Chicken
  • The Merrywell Bar
  • Perth Children’s Hospital
  • St John of God Subiaco refurb and development

Mr Bartlett has extensive experience in completing large projects, but is always around to add a personal touch to projects such as restaurants and pubs.

Mr Bartlett also has experience in the sports world. He currently serves as a volunteer coach for School Sports WA and spent two years as the General Manager of the Stirling Senators in the State Basketball League.

The bottom line: Mr Bartlett specialises in getting things done. He has a “hands-on” approach that is rare for owners of businesses the size of Western Stainless Solutions.