Stainless steel sinks are hard-wearing and maintain their finish well. Nonetheless, even these sinks can become stained and dirty over time if they aren't cleaned regularly. This is particularly important for commercial sinks, both because of the higher level of use they tend to receive and because of the increased importance of maintaining a high standard of hygiene. Fortunately, with regular care, keeping commercial sinks hygienic is relatively straightforward.
- Regular rinsing
Whenever possible, rinse sinks after use, washing most stains with soapy water will remove them. Run the water evenly across the surface and rub the area firmly with a sponge to dislodge any food or other residues that may be in the sink. Dry the sink with a towel after rinsing. Regular rinsing and drying will help to prevent mineral build-up and other sources of staining and contamination.
- Preventative care
Keeping a sink clean means protecting it from sources of rust and staining and this is why it is essential to ensure no residue is left within. Some metal products, such as cast iron or mild steel, can cause staining if left in the sink for any length of time; store these outside the sink when they are not being cleaned. Avoid rubber sink mats, which can trap water and chlorides, leading to rust.
- Disinfecting & deep cleaning
Commercial sinks should periodically be cleaned with a solution of one part water to one part bleach. Wipe the rim and interior of the sink with a cloth or sponge soaked with solution. Fill the sink less than half full with the same concentration of bleach in water, then let it soak for a quarter of an hour before draining. Rinse the sink thoroughly as it drains and once all of the solution has drained out, then dry as normal.
- Treating Stains
Even with regular maintenance, some stains will develop on a sink. Different types of stains can be addressed with different cleansers. For fingerprints and smudges to the sink's finish, detergent and water should suffice. For more persistent grease marks, a solvent such as acetone or isopropyl alcohol will restore the finish. If the finish of the sink becomes discolored, creams and polishes applied with a soft sponge can restore it.
Rust (although less likely to be seen on stainless steel) is one of the most challenging problems for stainless steel sinks - although regular care should prevent it forming. Do not use traditional methods such as steel wool pads etc. as they may work on other types of steel surfaces, but they can damage the finish of stainless steel. A solution of oxalic acid can remove the rust; however the area should be rinsed thoroughly afterwards. A wide range of commercial rust-removal solutions are available. Always follow the instructions on the packaging carefully.
Regular cleaning and maintenance will keep a sink clean and trouble-free for years; although frequent rinsing and disinfecting can add a few minutes to the working day, they will save the effort of dealing with a stained or damaged finish.