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Stainless steel appliances, fixtures, and sinks are a popular choice among homeowners, and it’s no wonder. They offer a lot of advantages.

If you are thinking of investing in stainless steel appliances, sinks, etc., there are a lot of reasons to proceed with this purchase. In this blog, we’ll discuss the benefits of stainless steel as well as a few drawbacks. After all, no material is perfect, and understanding a few of the disadvantages will help you stay on your toes when it comes to caring for the material. We’ll also share some tips for keeping stainless steel looking as good as it did the day you bought it.

Why You Should Buy Stainless Steel

(Pixabay / JamesDeMers)

Advantages to Stainless Steel

  • Elegant: Stainless steel can match just about any decorating style, so you don’t have to worry about it blending in with your existing decor.
  • Strong: Stainless steel appliances and fixtures are incredibly strong and durable. It takes a lot to dent or puncture stainless steel, so your appliances and fixtures look newer for longer.
  • Stain-resistant: This holds true even in areas with high heat and moisture content.
  • Bacteria-resistant: Stainless steel doesn’t collect bacteria the way many other materials do because it doesn’t have any grain or surface grooves to trap the bacteria.

Disadvantages to Stainless Steel

  • Expensive: The better the quality of stainless steel that you buy, the more expensive it will be.
  • Smudges Easily: A lot of good things can be said about stainless steel, but smudge-resistant is not one of them. In fact, the biggest complaint against stainless steel is the ease with which it collects smudges.
  • Scratches: When stainless steel gets scratched, it is very noticeable because of the natural grain. While it is possible to remove many scratches yourself, some may be deep enough that you can’t get rid of them, which can significantly damage the aesthetic.

What is Stainless Steel?

Stainless steel is made by combining steel with multiple elements such as chromium, nickel, and carbon in order to create a strong, stain-resistant new product. Though the name says that stainless steel doesn’t stain, water, salt, and certain acids can cause corrosion due to the nature of steel. Additionally, your appliance, sink, or fixture can rust if left in contact with cast iron. To prevent rust, manufacturers have played around with the ratios of the additional elements to see how they influence the final quality of the steel.

Some combinations are stronger or more rust-resistant than others, so before you make a purchase, be sure to do your research. For example, the 430 series is very strong and magnetic, but it doesn’t resist corrosion as well as steels in the 300 series. The 316 series is strong and corrosion-resistant, while the 304 is shiny and strong but vulnerable in environments with a lot of salt. The 200 series is the cheapest but also the most susceptible to corrosion.

Removing Rust

The first thing you should know about removing rust from your stainless steel fixture, sink, or appliance is to avoid abrasive cleaners and steel wool at all costs. These two things can remove the manufacturer’s finish and further damage the stainless steel.

Instead, opt for a nonabrasive cleaner and soft sponge. Start by cleaning the appliance, sink, or fixture completely using a sponge and warm water. Get rid of as much dirt and debris as you can before applying a cleaning agent. If you choose to use a commercial stainless steel cleaner, be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions exactly. You can also make a paste with equal parts baking soda and lemon juice and then rub the paste into the stainless steel, making sure to follow the grain. Let the mixture sit for a few minutes and then rinse the area off with warm water. If you notice the rust is still there, repeat the process.

Sand Out Scratches

If you see any light scratches, they can usually be buffed or sanded out using a fine-grit sandpaper. Start by using a nonabrasive cleaner like Bar Keeper’s Friend and gently rub it into the scratch with a soft cloth, following the direction of the grain. If that doesn’t remove the scratch, use fine-grit sandpaper instead (still remembering to follow the direction of the grain). Once the scratch is gone, gently use the sandpaper to blend the area that was scratched with the area around it. Follow up by using a stainless steel cleaner and polish to make everything look like new.

It’s important to note that if you have stainless steel with a smudge-resistant coating on it, you should not use sandpaper as it will remove the coating. Instead, follow your manufacturer’s advice on removing scratches.

DIY Fingerprint Repellant

The most annoying thing about stainless steel is its tendency to attract fingerprints, but there is something that you can do about it. If your appliance, sink, or fixture didn’t come with a fingerprint-resistant coating, you can apply one yourself using high-quality car wax. Simply apply the wax in a circular motion, wait for it to dry, and buff it until it shines. This should keep your stainless steel looking shiny and protect it from water, fingerprints, and other grime.

Stainless steel is a fantastic addition to any kitchen because of its durability and elegance. Even without care, it will last for years, but with just a little bit of TLC, you can keep it looking like new almost indefinitely.