Stainless steel is a staple in all commercial kitchens, and when properly looked after, it can be found shining everywhere from your worktops to the sinks, worktops, refrigeration, and the cooking and dishwashing equipment. There are a number of reasons for this prevalence, but mostly, stainless steel is used throughout because it is very durable, safe for food preparation, resists corrosion more so than other materials (resist is the key word here) and it is nonporous, so moisture, bacteria and other harmful remnants can’t easily seep into the material. However, contrary to popular belief, stainless steel can stain and even rust if not properly maintained. Here are some tips for cleaning and maintaining your stainless steel surfaces in the kitchen – or indeed anywhere it’s found – so you get rust-free service for years:
- Always use soft cloths, rags and sponges when cleaning the surfaces of your countertops, sink bowls, and your stainless steel equipment. Abrasive brushes, scrapers and steel wool can quickly scratch and damage the thin film shield that protects the steel, creating a better opportunity for rust to form. Also, it is a general tip that you should clean going with the grain line. Usually, you can see which way the grain of the steel is going and it’s best to polish going with- not against- that line.
- Be sure to clean your stainless surfaces regularly and use the right sanitising cleaners, keeping in mind the recommended concentration of your cleaner. Cleaning solutions like alkaline and alkaline-chlorinated cleaners should be used whereas traditional chloride solutions are advised against. High chlorine content is not recommended for stainless steel cleaning as it will eventually pit and rust the steel surface. If you do use chlorinated cleaners, be sure to check the concentration and strength, and then rinse it off quickly, before wiping down and drying the stainless surface.
- Hard water is one of the hardest things on stainless steel (no pun intended). Many commercial food businesses know this all too well and have equipped their water supply with filtration systems to soften the water by sifting through some of the harsh chemicals that result in deposits, spots, and eventually, rust. Furthermore, hard water when heated can leave deposits on your steel surfaces which will eat through the protective film, causing rust, once again. Knowing this, it’s important to keep water from standing on surfaces and wipe down moisture whenever you can.
Blog post by Ian Canavan www.busychef.co.uk