By Jim Flieler, Vice President of Sales for Charlotte Products Ltd

When it’s well maintained, stainless steel will help your facility shine. And while it is ubiquitous throughout many different types of facilities and industries, stainless steel can be a pesky surface to keep clean. Fingerprints and smudges are hard to hide on stainless steel. Follow this process and you’ll be able to keep them at bay, and allow your stainless steel surfaces to wow your building occupants. 

Know Your Surface Type

Most people don’t realize that every stainless steel surface is different. Often what looks like stainless steel is actually an imitation stainless steel panel. And when it comes to the real stainless steel, you will still have many different levels of quality. Stainless steel comes in a variety of synthetic coatings, such as plastic coatings, smudge-free coatings and more. The thing you need to know is that all of these surfaces require different cleaning processes. So, you should first understand what type of surface you are addressing, get to know whether it is real stainless steel or just made to look like stainless steel. Next, find out if your stainless steel has any coatings. This information will help you find the best products to clean your surfaces.

Know Your Facility

Your process also depends on the traffic in your facility. How often do people come by and touch or use the stainless steel surface you are addressing?  Do you have a lot of children in your facility who like to touch surfaces, leaving their mark? This will determine how frequently you will need to clean the surface. Make sure that you have your stainless steel surfaces written into your SOP process so that your custodial staff is paying attention to the surface and has clear directions on how often, when and how to clean it.

Know Your Stainless Steel Cleaning Product Types

When it comes to real stainless steel, there are two main types of products to choose from. Most people don’t realize how different these product types are. When you learn how to identify the ingredients in the products, you will be better able to choose the right one for the job. 

  • Oil and petroleum based stainless steel cleaners: These products contain dyes and fragrances and harsher ingredients. They should not be used in the food service industry. They can help achieve a high shine on a surface but leave a residue, which can re-attract dust and finger prints. 
  • Water based or silicone stainless steel cleaners: These products are often fragrance and dye free and can be safely used in a food service setting. They are safer for human health and the environment. These products don’t produce as high a sheen as oil-based cleaners but do leave a nice, dry surface. They also leave a surface less prone to smudging.

Additional Tips for Cleaning Stainless Steel

  1. Put it in the SOP. You have to add your stainless steel surfaces and cleaning frequency into your SOP. Make sure your custodial staff is trained on these surfaces and treating them daily, with a plan.
  2. Use a good quality water soluble stainless steel cleaner. Check out ES78+ Stainless Steel Cleaner from Envirosolutions for a safe, silicone-based cleaner that gets the job done.
  3. Pay attention to the grain. Just like wood, real stainless steel has a grain. Follow the grain when you are wiping it down to get inside all the nooks and crannies and for the cleanest surface when you are done.
  4. Clean your tools. A dirty microfiber cloth will leave streaks. Clean cloths dedicated to your stainless steel surfaces will be your best tools for keeping stainless steel spotless.

Bonus tip! After you’ve cleaned your stainless steel surfaces, streaks will likely reappear. Take a clean microfiber cloth rinsed well just in water, wipe following the grain and you will have exceptional results. That is a final pass that removes all streaks and makes your stainless steel shine. Don’t forget this quick damp wipe with plain water. It will make you look like a superstar!

Want to learn more about our stainless steel products, training tools and expert tips? Contact an expert at Charlotte to learn more.