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Cleaning Metal Finishes

Cleaning and routine maintenance are essential components of any investment you make for your business. Many of the industrial products we use and provide to our customers are made from metals and specific finishes that require great care to ensure longevity. This article will review the process of cleaning metal finishes to provide insight so you can narrow your product search according to your sanitization requirements and expectations.

Most commercial goods and appliances are made from stainless steel, aluminum, chrome, brass, and other common materials.Stainless steel is an alloy of chromium-nickel, iron, carbon, as well as other metals and can be used in the construction of commercial-grade appliances or ADA-compliant fixtures. Although steel is preferred for its resistance to corrosion, chemical damage, and heat damage, products involved in the handling of food, chemicals, or pharmaceuticals perform best when cleaned.

The first step to cleaning metal finishes requires that you identify the condition or finish and the types of surface contaminants. In a handbook supported by the Specialty Steel Industry of North America (SSINA), it is noted that stainless steel is traditionally protected from corrosion by a thin layer of chromium oxide. These two agents combine to form a passive film that protects from further corrosion. Contamination of any kind can hinder this passivation process, trapping corrosive agents and reducing protection.

Most stainless-steel appliances can be cleaned by warm water with or without a gentle detergent. If contamination calls for effective removal, the product may require a mild non-scratching abrasive powder or typical household cleaners, warm water, bristle brushes, sponged, or clean cloths. When it comes to removing fresh fingerprints, oils, or greases that haven’t had time to oxidize, organic solvents can be useful. Severely stained surfaces should be cleaned with commercial cleaners compounded from phosphates, synthetic detergents, and alkalis. Polished aluminum products typically require a pre-softened paste wax, whereas polished chrome usually calls for a wet cheesecloth in a nonabrasive cleaner such as dish soap.

The major distinctions to remember when cleaning metal finishes are between household cleaners and commercial cleaners. Household cleaners are either nonabrasive or abrasive, and both kinds are effective for mild stains or surface contaminations. It is important to distinguish whether your metal product is susceptible to scratching before utilizing abrasive cleaners. Commercial cleaners, on the other hand, are excellent for cleaning severely soiled surfaces.

Before instituting a standard operating procedure for care, consult the manufacturer of your product and their recommendations. If you have any questions about this article, please contact a member of the team today for assistance.

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