10 tips on caring for stainless steel

How to avoid corrosion, stains and more


Contrary to what the name suggests, stainless steel is not invincible to rust and corrosion. Like all other metals, if treated poorly and improperly, even the highest quality stainless-steel equipment will begin to corrode at some point.

However, if you maintain your stainless steel properly, you can have your rental equipment lasting longer than you ever expected. With stainless steel’s properties making it easy to clean, durable and bacteria resistant, it can be a very useful and important material for your rental equipment. Be sure to keep your stainless steel equipment in top shape with the following tips:

  1. Wipe clean immediately. Be sure to wipe down your stainless steel after every use, even if nothing has been spilled on it. Residue can build up over time without frequent cleaning, so it’s important to continuously wipe your equipment after every use. If something is spilled, clean it immediately, as it can damage the stainless steel.
  2. Wash gently. You don’t need anything fancy to clean your stainless-steel equipment. Just use a wet hand towel and some mild detergent if necessary. This is often sufficient to keep stainless steel clean and looking great.
  3. Wipe with the finish. You may notice that some equipment have a brushed stainless-steel finish with a grain. If your equipment does, it is best to wipe in the direction of the finish or with the grain. Going against the grain can damage the finish and effectiveness of your surface.
  4. Use baking soda. For really tough stains, you can add baking soda before applying your water and soap solution. This should help break the stain up while being non-abrasive and friendly to the stainless-steel finish.
  5. Be mindful of fingerprints. Fingerprints and other oils on our hands also can cause long-term damage to stainless-steel finishes. Be sure to wipe off these oils from your stainless steel thoroughly. It is best to use a glass cleaner to remove these, as they are effective and gentle on the steel itself.
  6. Rinse after cleaning. After every cleaning, make sure to rinse the surface of your stainless steel with a wet cloth to make sure there is no residual solvents of any kind left behind. Soap and other cleaners sitting on a stainless-steel surface can cause serious damage to the finish.
  7. Dry immediately. After every rinsing, be sure to dry your stainless steel immediately as well. Leaving water on the surface for an extended period of time can create dry spots and other blemishes on the surface, compromising its long-term integrity and aesthetic.
  8. Don’t use chlorine. If you need a bacteria-killing solution for your stainless steel, chlorine is not the solution. Chlorine will slowly break down the surface of your stainless steel. Instead, look for an ammonia-based solution.
  9. Use non-abrasive materials. It can be tempting to scrub the surface of your stainless steel with a strong material, such as steel wool. However, these materials always are a bad idea on stainless steel as it can damage the finish of your steel, reducing its effectiveness and shine.
  10. No damage, no polish. Don’t use stainless-steel cleaners or polishes unless there already has been damage to the finish of your steel. These cleaners and polishes are meant to help restore damaged steel, so these are completely unnecessary if your steel is still undamaged and looking new.

If you follow these tips and keep your stainless steel in top condition, your equipment will be functioning great for years to come. Stainless steel can be a very versatile and important material for kitchen equipment, so it’s important you give it the utmost care and attention throughout its lifetime.

Jacqueline Krol is national marketing manager, Progressive Pro/Caterer’s Warehouse, Rochdale, Mass. More information about the company is available online at catererswarehouse.com.