Paul Thorn is the managing director of Washware Essentials, a commercial sanitary ware supplier specialising in stainless steel fixtures
How to keep stainless steel fixtures showroom-ready
Posted 19th September
Stainless steel fixtures can give a stylish, modern feel to any washroom – but unfortunately, the material doesn’t always live up to its name, especially in a showroom when countless consumers are touching the products.
Thankfully, cleaning stainless steel is fairly straightforward, provided that you follow a few simple rules. In this guide, we’ll go through the basics of cleaning stainless steel and show you how to tackle some of the most common stains to keep your bathroom fixtures showroom-ready.
Not so stainless?
The name ‘stainless steel’ is actually slightly misleading; rather than being ‘stainless’, per se, stainless steel gets its name because it is highly resistant to corrosion. Stainless steel is an alloy of iron and chromium. The chromium produces a thin surface layer of chromium oxide which protects the metal from rusting; however, if this surface layer is damaged, the underlying steel will be exposed to oxygen, causing rust to form.
For that reason, you should avoid using abrasive scourers on stainless steel, as these can damage the protective chromium oxide film. Instead, use a sponge or microfibre cloth, which will clean the stainless steel without scratching the surface.
The good news is, most stains can be removed from stainless steel with no more than warm water and a clean cloth or sponge. You should never use bleach or bleach-based products on stainless steel, as this can cause irreparable damage and staining.
For more stubborn stains, you can use a few drops of ordinary household washing up liquid diluted in water. The main thing to bear in mind is that you should dry the stainless steel thoroughly after cleaning, because the natural minerals present in water can interact with the chromium oxide layer and leave unsightly marks.
With regards to water stains, prevention is better than cure – but of course, this is easier said than done, especially when it comes to commercial washrooms. Thankfully, water stains can be easily removed by rubbing them gently with a cloth or sponge soaked in white vinegar. Be sure to only use white vinegar, not malt, balsamic or any other kind.
If any stains remain, cover them with the vinegar-soaked cloth or sponge and leave to soak in for five minutes before wiping down again. Once you’ve finished, rinse down the entire surface with plain water and dry thoroughly.
White vinegar can also be used to remove limescale build-up on taps and shower heads. Simply fill a small plastic bag, such as a sandwich bag, with white vinegar and place over the shower head or tap, securing with a rubber band. Wait for one hour then remove the bag and wash away the residue with water before polishing with a cloth.
Fingerprint stains on taps and handles can be removed with ordinary glass cleaner. Spray the glass cleaner onto a cloth or sponge and then gently wipe down the surface in a circular motion. Once the fingerprints have been removed, rinse the area with water and dry thoroughly.
Sometimes, you’ll encounter severe staining that no amount of elbow grease will shift. Thankfully, the British Stainless Steel Association has issued comprehensive guidelines on removing serious stains like paint, cement and heavy rusting.