In 1913, Harry Brearly, an English metallurgist, accidentally concocted a metal mixture which has revolutionized our everyday life. He was working on a project to improve rifle barrels but discovered that adding chromium to low carbon steel gives it stain resistance, thus giving birth to “stainless steel”. Chromium in the steel combines with oxygen in the atmosphere to form a thin, invisible layer of chrome-containing oxide called passive film. If the passive film is scratched or disrupted, oxide will form and recover the surface, preventing corrosion.
Stainless steel is used in almost anything from bridges, monuments and sculptures (some examples include the Unisphere in New York and the Cloud Gate at Chicago), automotive bodies, passenger rail cars, aircraft, jewelry, etc. Most of all, stainless steel has been introduced to homes across the world due to the invention of stainless steel flatware.
Despite the moniker of being “stainless”, our flatware isn’t actually stain-proof. Passive film requires oxygen to repair, so those that have been kept in low-oxygen areas or exposed to certain chemicals can have “spots”. Knowing some tips and tricks on stainless steel flatware maintenance will help restore your cutlery’s immaculate glory.
Care During First Time Use
- When using stainless steel flatware for the first time, hand wash it thoroughly in hot water using mild soap or detergent. It’s important to use hot or warm water because it will remove all soap residues which cause cutlery to dull. After rinsing, dry the silverware using a towel as air-drying them would often lead to spots.
Care During Everyday Use
- Caring for your silverware during everyday use entails avoiding use for food that have high acid content such as tea, coffee, mayonnaise, tomato sauce, and citrus fruits.
- It’s also advisable to rinse cutlery immediately after use as stuck food particles can cause corrosion.
- When using a dishwasher, remember to load fork and spoons with their handles down, and avoid mixing stainless steel flatware with tableware made out of a different metal type in the same compartment or load.
- Never ever soak flatware overnight! Oxygen levels in water are low which lead to the breakdown of oxides that create protective corrosion layers.
- Do not pour detergent or soap directly on your flatware. It’s best to discharge it unto a sponge and use that to scrub their surfaces.
- Do not allow your cutlery to overheat. For example, leaving it on a hot burner or using it to stir boiling food.
- Avoid using steel wool to scrub stains from your stainless steel cutlery; because it can damage the surface and finish of the flatware.
- Cleaners containing lemon or orange additives can also cause corrosion.
- Do not use alcohol or oven cleaners to scrub difficult stains.
How do I remove stains or spots in my cutlery?
If prevention isn’t enough and you still find stubborn stains on your flatware, there are several hacks which you can keep in mind in order to restore their spotless glow.
1) Go the olive oil and washcloth route. To begin, clean the surface with non-abrasive soap, or baking soda and water. Then, apply olive oil to a washcloth and use this to wipe surface stains. Wipe excess oil with a clean, dry rag or a paper towel. This will also give it a little shine.
2) Use undiluted white vinegar. Some people swear by this method even though white vinegar has a funky smell. This is especially effective if your flatware stains are caused by heat.
3) The aluminum foil method. With this method, you’ll need a large skillet, aluminum foil, and water. First, place a large sheet of aluminum foil on the base of a large skillet. Fill the ¾ with hot water and add a teaspoon of salt and baking soda. Slide the cutlery in and let the water boil for 5 minutes. Then, turn off the heat and allow the water to cool before removing the stainless steel cutlery. Rinse each piece with warm tap water and towel dry with a clean cloth. Voila! Clean cutlery!
4) Use a rust-fighting product with oxalic acid. But only use this as a last resort! This solution should only be attempted under dire circumstances because oxalic acid is a strong chemical solution.
Check out The Escape Place ebay store for great collection of stainless steel silver.
These are our Oneida Collection Stainless Steel Silverware. You may click on each picture to check out the item.