Whether in a swank restaurant or your very own kitchen, it’s hard to argue against the fact that stainless steel just plain looks sexy. From modern side-by-side refrigerators to sinks to even the faceplate on a dishwasher, a well-designed stainless-steel kitchen is great eye-candy.
But even bars of gold need polishing now and then, and if stainless steel adorns your kitchen, galley, RV or camper, you already know what a gosh-awful pain it is to keep that stainless steel looking clean. And there’s the rub – it’s stain “less”, not stain “free”. With that terrible knowledge comes the fact that there are as many alleged stainless-steel cleaning “miracles” as there are stars in the sky. The internet is chock-full of blog and videos with home-made stainless-steel cleaners, commercial product comparisons and tons of heartfelt testimonials for each one of them.
Gonna stop right here and say that we’re not here to bad-mouth any of them. If you found one you like and it works for you, that’s cool. Good on ya! But, if you’re like a lot of folks who wrestle with keeping their stainless-steel clean, especially if you’ve got kids, we hear you. You’re not alone. And we’re here to offer a little help.
Understanding The Beast
Left on its own, stainless-steel is a marvelous invention. It resists tarnishing like almost nothing else and as a surface that comes into contact with humans and food, it’s hard to find something better. But don’t be fooled. Everything gets dirty and pretty much everything oxidizes. As elements on the periodic table go, oxygen is one of the more likely to “sleep around” with other elements, resulting in oxidation or tarnish. So even stainless-steel isn’t going to stay pristine forever.
Whether it’s cooking grease in the air, kid’s fingerprints or who knows what else, your stainless is going to get dirty. And when it does, you’re going to reach for something to clean it – and that’s where things can get (excuse the pun) sticky. The truth is, most of the real problem dirt on stainless-steel is grime wrapped in some kind of oil and, depending on the cleaner you choose, you can actually add to the mess you’re trying to get rid of.
For things that live under the sink, vinegar mixed with water is one of the first go-tos for a lot of folks. The acidic properties of vinegar can help to cut through grease and oil and it’s been a mainstay stainless-steel cleaner for a long time. Of course, there’s the challenge of figuring out the right vinegar to water ratio and the fact that on stainless-steel, depending on how you mix it and the cloth(s) you use to clean, you can wind up with streak city. Insurmountable problem? Nope. Pain in the butt? Yes.
What’s With The Fingerprints? – The Dirty Little Secret
Whether you clean with vinegar and water or something you grabbed off the shelf at your local grocer, the return of the fingerprints to your fridge are more frustrating and more predictable than a Sharknado sequel. Body oils plus dirt are a real pain. And if that’s all there was to it, that would be plenty. But it’s not.
Most of the stainless-steel cleaner/polish combinations on store shelves are designed to remove the dirt and leave behind a shine, which sounds very good on paper. But in practice? Not so much. The cleaning part of most of those formulations are usually just fine. A good cleaner or “surfactant” will get rid of mostly everything the average fridge will run into. It’s the polishing part where things get dicey.
The truth is, cleaner/polish combinations aren’t some kind of sci-fi sentient compound that knows when the cleaning ends and the polishing begins. All the ingredients are mixed together and the general hope is they’ll do enough of a good job to be passable. Again, sounds good on paper…
Hiding In Plain Sight
But before you buy one of those stainless-steel cleaning/polishing combination products, make sure you take a good long look at the list of ingredients in unbearably tiny print. It’s a good bet that somewhere down the list you’ll see “mineral oil”. Now it may be in disguise or carrying a different nom de guerre. It could be listed as paraffin oils, white mineral oil, petroleum distillates, or my personal favorite, “aliphatic oils”. Look, no matter what it’s called, it’s pretty much the same thing: baby oil. Yup, the same stuff mom rubbed on your backside, is what a lot of companies use to give your stainless a little shine once their cleaner ingredients have done their thing.
You don’t need to degree in chemical engineering to understand what happens when you smear oil on a surface and then touch it – fingerprints. That’s right, a lot of those cleaners are actually a big part of the problem. That oil not only loves fingerprints, it’s also a big attractor and collector of the dust, dirt and pollen in the air. And if that wasn’t enough, most of those cleaners don’t pull up all the oil they deposited the time before, so after a while, you begin to get a layer of oil building up over time that makes things worse.
And there you go – the solution (pun intended) is the problem.
Make It All Go Away
As you may have suspected, we haven’t brought you this far to not provide you with an answer to the problem. Say hello to a couple of our friends: Flitz Stainless Steel & Chrome Clean and Flitz Stainless Steel Polish/Protectant.
Remember that part about products not being smart enough to be able to separate the jobs they’re supposed to do? That’s why we have two products. One to clean, one to protect. Zero confusion.
Flitz Stainless Steel & Chrome Clean is designed to remove the crud that’s sitting on top of your stainless. It doesn’t polish. It cleans. If you’ve been using one of those combo cleaners you may need to hit your stainless with our cleaner three or four times to finally cut through that nasty layer of mineral oil that’s been accumulating over time. Once you finally get back down to the actual stainless, then it’s time to protect.
Flitz Stainless Steel Polish/Protectant puts a micro-thin hard ceramic coating on top of your stainless-steel. Unlike a sticky wax or oil, it dries hard and actually resists fingerprints. Any that do happen will wipe right off with a microfiber. The nano-ceramic coating is hydrophobic and can last 6 months or more! Plus, it not only works on your stainless, it’ll protect your countertops, bath and kitchen fixtures, literally any hard surface! (Who doesn’t like a multi-tasker in the kitchen!)
Here's what the Wall Street Journal had to say: “Several new stainless-steel cleaners on the market promise to keep kitchens looking showroom new. We tested the latest products. Here are our recommendations:
(#1) Flitz Stainless Steel & Chrome Clean/Stainless Steel Polish. The product got rid of several tough stains, and did well at preventing fingerprints.”
A busy kitchen is always going to need cleaning. Stainless-steel doesn’t stay clean forever. Just make sure you don’t add to the problem with products that claim to be “time-savers”. Don’t just clean it – Flitz it!