Caring for Stainless Steel Equipment

No one wants to clean their vehicle at a dirty-looking car wash. Customers return to locations with clean, nice-looking bays and equipment. Regularly cleaning your car wash’s stainless steel surfaces will improve their corrosion resistance and appearance. Thus, not only the longevity of your equipment increases, your revenue can increase too!

Stainless steel is not a single alloy, the name applies to a group of iron-based alloys containing a minimum of 10.5% chromium. Other elements are added along with the chromium to improve corrosion resistance, heat resistance, mechanical, and other properties depending on the needs of the application. There are over 50 grades of stainless steel recognized by the American Iron and Steel Institute.

Cleanliness and stainless steel are closely related. In many applications, they are dependent on each other. Stainless steel provides a degree of corrosion resistance; however, stainless steel performs best when clean. Cleanliness is essential for maximum corrosion resistance. Stainless steel is protected by a thin layer of chromium oxide, which is formed on the surface formed by the combination of the chromium and oxygen. Contamination on the surface may reduce the formation or effectiveness of this protective layer, reducing corrosion resistance.

Best Cleaning Practices
Any surface or material exposed to the environment, especially one designed specifically to remove dirt from an object such as a car wash, can get dirty. Dirt and soil will vary greatly in appearance and their effect on corrosion resistance. Warm water with or without a gentle detergent is often enough to remove most dirt and soil. You may also use mild non-scratching abrasive powders found as typical household cleaners if a general detergent is not enough. These can be used with warm water, brushes, sponges or clean cloths. Carbon steel brushes and steel wool should not be used as they can embed particles into the stainless steel which can lead to rusting. Cleaning should always be followed by rinsing with clean water.

Cleaners & Protectants
There are also many cleaners available for stainless steel in household and commercial strengths. Avoid cleaners which are abrasive or contain chloride. If using some kind of cleaning pad, such as a green scotch pad, it should be used in the same direction as the grain pattern on the material. Clean or scrub the entirety of the surface evenly. Spot cleaning or aggressive spot cleaning will result in unevenness and shiny spots that are generally unaesthetic. Some also report success in maintaining surfaces and preventing chemical stains by applying light coats of products such as lemon oil after cleaning.

Contact us today to speak with one of our experienced D&S car wash professionals about your specific needs. We’re here to help!