Stainless steel care
It’s a myth to believe that stainless steel is truly stainless and impervious to marking and damage. Although it is much easier to care for than other metals such as aluminium, it is still neccessary to look after your stainless steel.
We do not recommend placing stainless steel in the dishwasher. Not if you want to care about the long term maintenance of the product. Dishwashers use extremely high heat and strong chemicals to clean.
This is all detrimental to anything you put in the dishwasher, so for items that you care about or have a decorative or display aspect, keep them away from the dishwasher. Use regular dishwashing liquid and a non abrasive pad to clean these items.
Unlike aluminium, stainless steel does not generally react to water, so you can use stainless steel with water and other liquids, including oils and salad dressings, etc. When you then hand wash them (as recommended) you can even leave them to dry naturally, although you could get some spotting, which towel drying will avoid.
Polished stainless steel does scratch. This is true of all polished stainless steel and care should be taken to avoid scratching, especially if you care about the appearance of the item.
There are a number of stainless steel cleaners and polishes on the market, but none that we have tried will restore polished stainless steel to as new. The best product we have found is “Auotosol” the same one we use on our aluminium peices.
CARE OF STAINLESS STEEL CUTLERY
First, it must be emphasised that staining is a rare phenomenon and that in most cases it is due to something that becomes firmly deposited on the steel, rather than to any attack of the steel itself. Probably the most common cause of staining is attack by one of the proprietary dip solutions used for removing tarnish from silver. Although excellent for cleaning silver and E.P.N.S., these solutions should never be allowed to come into contact with stainless steel; they contain acids that etch the steel, first giving it an iridescent rainbow stain and ultimately etching it a dull grey. Even if care is taken to dip only the silver handle of a knife, it is so easy, when lifting it from the solution, to let drips fall onto the stainless steel blades of other cutlery that happen to be lying around.
All tap water contains dissolved mineral salts that would leave an extremely thin film on any article on which it was allowed to dry out without wiping. In most cases, the resultant stain will wipe off, but occasionally more vigorous treatment is needed, using a polishing preparation, such as stainless steel cleaners.
Detergents, especially unnecessarily strong solutions of detergent, can leave an indelible rainbow stain on stainless steel if they are not rinsed off and are allowed to dry, out on its surface. This is a common problem with some dishwashing machines when the rinse cycle is malfunctioning.
Very hard water can deposit a chalky film on stainless steel, but this is only likely to occur in dishwashers that use un-softened or incompletely softened water.
Very hot grease, fat or meat juices sometimes leave stubborn rainbow coloured stains on stainless steel, but this is more likely to occur on meat dishes than cutlery – again this does not mean there is anything wrong this the stainless steel and the articles will be as good as new after the stain has been removed.
Heat by itself will impart a rainbow coloured heat tint to stainless steel, but this is only likely to occur if the cutlery is accidentally left on a hot plate or gas burner, when the cause would be immediately obvious.
Prolonged immersion in synthetic ‘vinegar’ (condiment) can stain stainless steel knives if left on for several hours, but more rapidly if the ‘vinegar’ also contains salt.
Sometimes rust coloured stains occur. Wet fragments of steel wool that find their way onto cutlery may go rusty and leave indelible rust stains on the stainless steel. Other rust coloured stains may come from corrosion pits in the cutlery, although the pits themselves may be so small as to be barely visible.
Most stains that resist ordinary rubbing with a soapy cloth can be removed with stainless steel cleaners.
Finally, it must be pointed out that there may be other causes of staining that have not yet been identified.
WASHING CUTLERY IN DISHWASHERS
Dishwashing machines provide a welcome relief from the task of washing up but to maintain knives in good condition a few simple precautions are necessary. Special hardenable stainless steels are generally used for knives to give them a lasting edge but these steels can become slightly pitted or corroded if left repeatedly and for too long in contact with moisture.
- – Whenever possible wash knives immediately; do not leave them wet overnight and do not subject knives to the ‘rinse and hold’ cycle. The use of the dishwasher as a dirty storage cabinet causes many cases of knife corrosion.
- – As soon as the dishwasher has completed its cycle, remove the knives and wipe them dry. It is particularly undesirable to leave them overnight in the damp atmosphere of a dishwasher.
- – Observe the dishwasher manufacturer’s instructions concerning the type and quality of detergent used and the method of loading cutlery in the compartments provided.
- – Water with a high salt content is particularly corrosive to stainless steel. Dishwashers are often fitted with water softeners that must be regenerated with salt. After adding salt, make certain that the machine is put through the programme recommended by the supplier before washing knives in the machine.
- – Cutlery with handles of wood, plastic, bone or china should be washed by hand unless it is stated to be suitable for dishwashers.
- – If any stains are produced by hard water, detergent or by any other cause, they can usually be removed by rubbing them with a non-abrasive metal cleaning paste or liquid. Detergent stains can often occur with regular dishwasher use and show themselves as rainbow like stains, these can easily be removed with lemon juice.
- – Do not allow undiluted dishwasher detergent to come into contact with silver or silver plated items as this may result in permanent staining of the surface. Some dishwasher manufacturers are not aware of this and position the cutlery basket immediately below the detergent dispenser.
- – Do don’t place silver plated or silver cutlery in at the same time stainless steel items, as it can increase the risk of the stainless steel corroding. Don’t place knives with silver/ silver plated handles in the dishwasher at all.
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