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Cleaning Stainless Steel

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Cleaning stainless steel flatware

Stainless steel is essentially iron which has been infused with more than 10% chromium.  It is very good at resisting corrosion and rust through normal wear and tear, but occasionally it will dull.  Stainless steel is noted for its hardness and ability to withstand everyday use.  To make the flatware shine a little of the chromium is used to form the hard oxide coating on the surface.  This is like a hard outer shell protecting the steel on the inside.  Over time, and subject to use and exposure to harsh elements like dishwashing detergent….this hard protective shell slowly wears down.  Frequently the exterior of flatware will dull and does not retain its luster.  This is a normal occurrence for all flatware – although it should not occur for quite some time (depending upon the initial quality of the silverware.

If your flatware is still relatively new and in good shape – there are a number of possible ways to clean it up and restore some of its original shine.  One such method used to remove streaking is to take a soft dish towel rub a little Olive Oil on the flatware….this should remove streaking.  One can also polish and shine stainless steel by using Vinegar and a soft cloth to wipe the flatware – this is also good to remove heat stains from the flatware.  If you don’t have any vinegar, club soda can also be used as an alternative.

When placing your flatware in the dishwasher – try to rinse off any salty or acidic foods stuck to the flatware.  Usually people will put utensils in the dishwasher and then wait upwards of 3 days to actually run the dishwasher.  This extended time is a killer on your stainless steel flatware and will dull it quicker.  An important note to remember is that detergents are harsh chemicals used to clean off stubborn foods….but they can also damage your flatware if they come in contact with flatware which is wet.  Usually dark spots are the result.  You should already know how to remove those spots if you read the paragraph above.

These days it is not surprising to see very nice stainless steel pots and pans.  The same principals for flatware apply to these utensils as well.  Try not to ever let boiling water completely evaporate from a dry pot or pan…this will definitely cause discoloration.  Frequently, due to the conductivity of stainless steel – hot spots will occur within your pots and pans – try not to let food items burn in your steel utensils as this too will cause discoloration.

If you truly want to take the time to properly care for your stainless steel flatware and pots and pans – then washing by hand is the way to go.  Not all of us are willing to take such time, but on occasion this is not a bad idea.  Simply clean the items with warm water and a gentle detergent and dry them by had immediately.  Letting them drip dry will cause spotting and streaking.  If a haze or blur occurs over time, a gentle silver polish can sometimes be used to remove this.  Certain foods are more corrosive than others and should be removed from the stainless steel as soon as possible.

Remember –try not to use harsh abrasives or steel wool on stainless steel as it will surely scratch the surface and cause additional problems.









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