[caption id="attachment_4509" align="aligncenter" width="620"]cia-kitchen Picture via atpearl.com taken at The Culinary Institute of America- San Antonio[/caption]

Learn how to care for stainless steel. Your stainless steel is a staple in foodservice kitchens, and when properly looked after, it can be found shining everywhere from your countertops to the sinkswork tables, refrigeration, and the cooking and ware washing equipment.

There are a number of reasons for this prevalence, but mostly, stainless steel is used throughout because it is very durable, safe for food preparation, resists corrosion moreso than other materials (resist is the key word here), and it is nonporous, so moisture, bacteria and other harmful remnants can't easily seep into the material.

However, contrary to popular belief, stainless steel can stain and even rust if not properly maintained. Here are some tips for cleaning and maintaining your stainless steel surfaces in the back of the house so you get rust-free service for years:

  1. Always use soft cloths, rags and sponges when cleaning the surfaces of your countertops, sink wells, and your stainless steel equipment.
    • Abrasive brushes, scrapers, and steel wool can quickly scratch and damage the thin film shield that protects the steel, creating an opportunity for rust to form.
    • Also, it is a general tip that you should clean going with the grain line. Usually, you can see  which way the grain of the steel is going, and it's best to polish going with- not against- that line.
  2. Be sure to clean your stainless surfaces regularly
    • Use the right sanitizing cleaners, keeping in mind the recommended concentration of your cleaner.
    • Cleaning solutions like alkaline and alkaline-chlorinated cleaners should be used whereas traditional chloride solutions are advised against.
    • High chlorine content is not recommended for stainless steel cleaning as it will eventually pit and rust the steel surface.
    • If you do use chlorinated cleaners, be sure to check the concentration and strength, then rinse it off quickly, before wiping down and drying the stainless surface.
  3. Hard water is one of the hardest things on stainless steel (no pun intended).
    • Many foodservice establishments know this all too well and have equipped their water supply with filtration systems to soften the water by sifting through some of the harsh chemicals that result in deposits, spots, and eventually, rust.
    • Furthermore, hard water when heated can leave deposits on your steel surfaces which will eat through the protective film, causing rust, once again.
    • Keep water from standing on surfaces and wipe down moisture whenever you can.