Brightening Stainless Steel
Stainless Steel Scratches
Renewing Stainless Steel Pots and Pans
What do I use for brightening stainless steel? Our kitchen sink is very dull and I want to make it look a little nicer.
BH from Coconut Creek, FL
The usual procedure to get the most sheen is to either use a metal polish, an acidic cleaning product, a wax product, a mild abrasive such as "Soft Scrub" or a fine steel wool. The operative word is "fine." Perhaps a short stainless steel tutorial is in order... then you will understand how to treat this material with the respect it deserves. The secret to stainless steel's strong resistance to corrosion is in its composition... it is a blend (or, more correctly, an alloy) of iron and 10% or greater chromium... with nickel added to produce a tough surface.
This alloying process produces a metal that has self-protective properties. During manufacture, the surface of the steel reacts with oxygen to form an extremely hard coating... chromium oxide... that protects the steel within. Though very durable, this coating is not invulnerable and, if penetrated, the steel will rust! Therefore, care must be taken to protect the stainless steel surface from scratches!
There is not just one stainless steel... indeed there are hundreds of formulations of this metal designed for different applications and for different environments. For example, your stainless steel kitchen sink would not keep its pristine appearance for long in sea water... most stainless steel is especially susceptible to chloride (salt)! Some types of stainless steel are non-magnetic, while others are magnetic! Some types can be welded... others not. Just understanding the varying types of stainless steel can be a life study!
Stainless steel can be cleaned and brightened with vinegar... the acidity will remove a slight amount of metal oxide. However, don't leave any acid in contact with stainless steel for a long time... it can cause permanent pitting in the surface.
Chlorine bleach should not be used on stainless steel. Chlorine is a very reactive chemical and can damage the steel's oxide coating.
Using a mild abrasive or steel wool pad can also help brighten up stainless steel, but there is a risk of leaving surface scratches, or "whorls," that may be aesthetically undesirable. Plus... you are wearing away the oxide! Metal polishes are a better solution. One product I am personally familiar with and highly recommend is Gel Gloss at gel-gloss.com! This product will both clean and leave a coating that will restore sheen and offer some chemical protection to the sink. Gel Gloss can also restore the stain resistance and sheen to old plastic laminate countertops that have reached their "golden" years!
copyright 2000 G.G. Alonzy
Have a small home repair question for THE NATURAL HANDYMAN? Just click here NaturalHandyman.com/aitikia. For more home repair information, visit NH's growing list of original home repair articles and quality links NaturalHandyman.com. If this information has been valuable to you, please consider making a small donation to support NH's free service to the home repair community! For more information, please visit our "Friends" page NaturalHandyman.com/Friends.
The Natural Handyman Site Directory
- Home Repair Articles naturalhandyman.com/iip
- Home Repair Links Library naturalhandyman.com/linkslibrary
- NH's Bookshop naturalhandyman.com/bookshop
- Find a handyman at naturalhandyman.com/network
- Win unique home repair gifts and prizes at NaturalHandyman.com/Contest. Please read the important copyright and disclaimer information located at NaturalHandyman.com/Copyright.
More Money-Saving Tips for Your Home
- 6 cheap, effective home security solutions
- 5 frugal ways to expand your living space
- Top 10 DIY mistakes made by home 'handymen'
- 4 ways to pay off your mortgage earlier
- How much does it cost to cool your home?
- Monthly dishwasher maintenance that can help you save
- Natural spider control
- This week's Readers' Tips
- Should I use a HELOC for home remodeling and repairs?
- Should I refinance my mortgage?
- Compare HELOC rates
- Check for a lower homeowners insurance rate
- 3 ways to use a mortgage calculator
- Mortgage calculator: Calculate your payment and more
- Home equity calculator: HELOC vs. line of credit
- How much can additional payments save me on my mortgage?