How to Protect your Stainless Steel Sink
It is a common misconception that stainless steel is invulnerable to any damage, and won’t be affected by harsh chemicals or abrasive surfaces. Unfortunately, this is simply not the case. While stainless steel is one of the most food-safe, durable materials that are available, it still needs to be properly cared for if you want to maintain its function and appearance for the lifetime of the sink.
While it is impervious to rust, stainless steel is very susceptible to scratching from things like abrasive ceramics or dropped cutlery. This may come as a surprise if you’ve had a stainless steel sink for a long time and have never noticed it scratching. This is because modern, surgical grade T304 stainless steel is made with less iron in its composition than older steel. The result is a sink that is much more food-safe, and the only detriment is that it is more susceptible to purely cosmetic scratching. Luckily, it is pretty easy to protect your sink from the most obvious scratches. Most sinks will either come with or have available custom sink grids that sit in the bottom of the sink and protect it from scratching. These grids are a great way to keep your sink safe from any cosmetic damage that might occur.
Another common mistake is the use of high concentrations of bleach for long periods of time on a stainless steel sink. While the material is very durable, it can still be corroded under harsh conditions, and extended periods of time soaking in bleach is the perfect condition for this to occur. While using diluted bleach to clean dishes in your sink won’t be a problem, as long as you thoroughly rinse the sink out afterwards, leaving improperly diluted bleach to soak for a long time will discolour your sink, and can actually begin to corrode away the surface and weaken your sink. This will result in distinct, horizontal lines across the sides of the sink. While this should be avoided at all costs, since it is weakening the material of your sink, it can be improved with a stainless steel cleaner, such as Bar Keeper’s Friend. By rubbing the cleaner with a soft cloth or mildly abrasive scrubber into the steel, you can significantly improve the appearance of your sink, though depending on the severity of the corrosion you may see limited results.
The last tip for keeping your sink as beautiful as the day you got it is to dry it off after you’re done using it. Even if you don’t have hard water, all water has some amount of minerals in it. When this water is allowed to evaporate off of any surface, it will leave behind a small deposit of minerals that over time will build up and be visible. By drying your sink off before water can evaporate off of it, you prevent this build up and keep your sink looking shiny and new! It is also important that you don’t leave anything wet sitting in your sink to dry. Something like a scrubber or sponge that dries in the bottom of your sink will have the same result, and leave a visible mark in your sink.
While there are things that can damage or mar the appearance of your stainless steel sink, they can be pretty easily prevented with a little forethought, and any damage that does occur can be significantly improved with some TLC. With a little bit of effort and a little bit of elbow grease, you can preserve both the appearance and functionality of your sink for years to come!