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Cleaning Stainless Steel


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                     O F S TA I N L E S S



                                   TABLE OF CONTENTS

                                   INTRODUCTION      ..............................................                                             1

                                   WHAT IS STAINLESS STEEL                  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1

                                   ALLOY TYPES   . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1

                                   FORMS AND FINISHES              .......................................                                      2

                                   CLEANING OF STAINLESS STEEL                          . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .3

                                     Types of surface contaminants                        . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .3

                                   TYPES OF CLEANERS AND METHODS                                  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .4

                                   EFFECTIVE CLEANING METHODS                           . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .5

                                   CARE OF STAINLESS STEEL                    . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .5

                                   LISTING OF STAINLESS STEEL PIPE

                                     AND TUBE MANUFACTURERS                              ............................                           6

The Specialty Steel Industry
of North America (SSINA)
acknowledges that this new
handbook contains information
originally published by the
Committee of Stainless Steel
Producers, American Iron and
                                                                                                                 The Specialty Steel Industry of the North
Steel Institute, which no longer
                                                                                                              America (SSINA) and the individual
exists. Current SSINA member                                                                                  companies it represents have made every
companies were represented                                                                                    effort to ensure that the information
on that committee.                                                                                            presented in this handbook is technically
                                                                                                              correct. However, neither the SSINA nor its
The SSINA wishes to                                                                                           member companies warrants the accuracy of
                                                                                                              the information contained in this handbook
acknowledge the contributions
                                                                                                              or its suitability for any general and specific
of the Nickel Development                                                                                     use. The SSINA assumes no liability or
Institute and its consultant,                                                                                 responsibility of any kind in connection with
Technical Marketing Resources                                                                                 the use of this information. The reader is
                                                                                                              advised that the material contained herein
(Pittsburgh, PA) for help in
                                                                                                              should not be used or relied on for any
preparing the contents of                                                                                     specific or general applications without first
this handbook.                                                                                                securing competent advice.
INTRODUCTION                                     WHAT IS STAINLESS STEEL
Cleanliness and stainless steel are              Stainless steel is not a single alloy, but rather the name applies to a group of iron-based
closely related and, in many applications,       alloys containing a minimum 10.5% chromium. Other elements are added and the
each is dependent upon the other. In
                                                 chromium content increased to improve the corrosion resistance and heat resisting
the handling of food, chemicals,
                                                 properties, enhance mechanical properties, and/or improve fabricating characteristics.
pharmaceuticals and in the use of
stainless steel as a construction material       There are over 50 stainless steel grades that were originally recognized by the American

(roofs, wall panels, entry ways, signs, etc.),   Iron and Steel Institute (AISI). Three general classifications are used to identify stainless
stainless steel provides the degree              steel. They are:
of corrosion resistance that is necessary
                                                 1) Metallurgical structure.
to prevent product contamination or
                                                 2) The AISI numbering system (200, 300 and 400 series numbers).
surface rusting. However, stainless steel
performs best when clean -- cleanliness          3) The Unified Numbering System, which was developed by the American Society

is essential for maximum resistance              for Testing Materials (ASTM) and the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) to apply
to corrosion.                                    to all commercial metals and alloys.
  This handbook describes various
                                                   The various types of stainless steel are detailed in a designer handbook, "Design
practices for cleaning stainless steel
                                                 Guidelines for the Selection and Use of Stainless Steel," available from the Specialty
during manufacture and in use. This
includes methods for removing free-iron          Steel Industry of North America (SSINA). Several other publications are also available,

contamination on stainless steel surfaces        including: "Stainless Steel Fabrication," "Stainless Steel Fasteners," "Stainless Steel
that may have been picked up from                Finishes," "Stainless Steel Specifications," and "Stainless Steel Architectural Facts,"
metalworking tools; and for removing
                                                 to mention a few.
general accumulation of dirt, grime and
surface stains that occur during normal
                                                 ALLOY TYPES
handling and exposure to the elements.
  The reader should keep in mind                 304 is the basic chromium-nickel                 316 offers more corrosion-resistance
that there are few specific rules for a          austenitic stainless steel and has               through the addition of molybdenum.
cleaning procedure. Accordingly, the             been found suitable for a wide range             This grade is desirable where the
methods discussed in this handbook               of applications. It is the most readily          possibility of severe corrosion exists,
are suggestions. Each manufacturer or            available in a variety of product forms.         such as heavy industrial atmospheres
user, after obtaining competent advice           This grade is easy to form and fabricate         and marine environments.
with respect to their individual                 with excellent resistance to corrosion.
                                                                                                  316L is the low carbon version of 316.
requirements, should select methods
                                                 304L is the low carbon version of
appropriate to those requirements.                                                                430 is a straight chromium ferritic
                                                 304. It is sometimes specified where
                                                                                                  stainless steel with lower corrosion
                                                 extensive welding will be done.
                                                                                                  resistance than the 300 series. It is
                                                                                                  principally employed for interior use.

                                                  Item         Description                             Dimensions
Sheet, strip, plate, and bar forms are shown in                                                        Thickness                   Width                      Diameter or Size
Table 1. Sheet finishes are shown in Table 2.     Sheet        Coil and cut lengths:
Bar product conditions and finishes are                        Mill finishes Nos. 1, 2D & 2B           under 3/16" (4.76mm)        24" (609.6mm) & over              --
                                                               Pol. finishes Nos. 3, 4, 6, 7 & 8       under 3/16" (4.76mm)        all widths
shown in Table 3; Plate is shown in Table 4.
                                                  Strip        Cold finished, coils or cut lengths     under 3/16" (4.76mm)        under 24" (609.6mm)               --
In addition to the common mill and polished                    Pol. finishes Nos. 3, 4, 6, 7 & 8       under 3/16" (4.76mm)        all widths
finishes, there are numerous special finishes     Plate        Flat rolled or forged                   3/16" (4.76mm) & over over 10" (254mm)                        --
used for architectural applications. Some of      Bar          Hot finished rounds, squares,
the more delicate finishes require special                     octagons and hexagons                         --                          --                   1/4" (6.35mm) & over

precautions when cleaning and the advice                       Hot finished flats                      1/8" (3.18mm) to            1/4" (6.35mm) to                  --
                                                                                                       8" (203mm) incl.            10" (254mm) incl.
of the supplier should be obtained.
                                                               Cold finished rounds, squares,
The most common special finishes are                           octagons and hexagons                         --                          --                   over 1/8" (3.18mm)

shown in Table 5.                                              Cold finished flats                     1/8" (3.18mm) to            3/8" (9.53mm) to                  --
                                                                                                       4 1/2" (114mm)              4 1/2" (114mm)

                                                  Wire         Cold finishes only: (in coil)
                                                               Round, square, octagon,
                                                               hexagon, and flat wire                  under 3/16" (4.76mm)        under 3/8" (9.53mm)               --

                                                  Pipe &       Several different classifications, with differing specifications, are available. For information on standard
                                                  Tubing       sizes, consult your local Steel Service Center or the SSINA.

                                                  Extrusions Not considered "standard" shapes, but of potentially wide interest. Currently limited in size to
                                                             approximately 6 1/2" (165.1mm) diameter, or structurals.

                                                  Table 2 STANDARD MECHANICAL SHEET FINISHES
                                                  Unpolished or Rolled Finishes:
                                                  No. 1 A rough, dull surface which results from hot rolling to the specified thickness followed by annealing
                                                          and descaling.
                                                  No. 2D A dull finish which results from cold rolling followed by annealing and descaling, and may perhaps get
                                                         a light roll pass through unpolished rolls. A 2D finish is used where appearance is not of primary concern.
                                                  No. 2B A bright, cold-rolled finish resulting in the same manner as No. 2D finish, except that the annealed and
                                                         descaled sheet receives a final light roll pass through polished rolls. This is the general-purpose cold-rolled
                                                         finish that can be used as is or as a preliminary step to polishing.

                                                  Polished Finishes:
                                                  No. 3 An intermediate polish surface obtained by finishing with a 100-grit abrasive. Generally used where a
                                                          semifinished polished surface is required. A No. 3 usually receives additional polishing during fabrication.
                                                  No. 4    A polished surface obtained by finishing with a 120-150 mesh abrasive, following initial grinding with coarser
                                                           abrasives. This is a general-purpose bright finish with a visible "grain" which prevents mirror reflection.
                                                  No. 6    A dull satin finish having lower reflectivity than No. 4 finish in a medium of abrasive and oil. It is used for
                                                           architectural applications and ornamentation where a higher luster is undesirable, and to contrast with
                                                           brighter finishes.
                                                  No. 7    A highly reflective finish that is obtained by buffing finely ground surfaces but not to the extent of completely
                                                           removing the "grit" lines. It is used chiefly for architectural and ornamental purposes.
                                                  No. 8    The most reflective surface obtained by polishing with successively finer abrasives and buffing extensively
                                                           until all grit lines from preliminary grinding operations are removed. It is used for applications such as mirrors
                                                           and reflectors.

Table 3 CONDITIONS & FINISHES FOR BAR                                                                                           CLEANING OF
 Conditions                          Surface Finishes*                                                                          STAINLESS STEEL
 Hot worked only                     (a) Scale not removed (excluding spot conditioning)                                        Stainless steels need to be cleaned for
                                     (b) Rough turned**
                                     (c) Pickled or blast cleaned and pickled                                                   aesthetic considerations and to preserve

 Annealed or otherwise               (a) Scale not removed (excluding spot conditioning)
                                                                                                                                corrosion resistance. Stainless steel is
 heat treated                        (b) Rough turned                                                                           protected from corroson by a thin layer of
                                     (c) Pickled or blast cleaned and pickled
                                                                                                                                chromium oxide. Oxygen from the
                                     (d) Cold drawn or cold rolled
                                     (e) Centerless ground                                                                      atmosphere combines with the chromium
                                     (f) Polished                                                                               in the stainless steel to form this passive
 Annealed and cold worked            (d) Cold drawn or cold rolled                                                              chromium oxide film that protects from
 to high tensile strength***         (e) Centerless ground
                                     (f) Polished
                                                                                                                                further corrosion. Any contamination of the
                                                                                                                                surface by dirt, or other material, hinders
  * Surface finishes (b), (e) and (f) are applicable to round bars only.                                                        this passivation process and traps corrosive
 ** Bars of the 4xx series stainless steels which are highly hardenable, such as Types 414, 420, 420F, 431, 440A,
    440B and 440C, are annealed before rough turning. Other hardenable grades, such as Types 403, 410, 416 and                  agents, reducing corrosion protection. Thus,
    416Se, may also require annealing depending on their composition and size.                                                  some form of routine cleaning is necessary
*** Produced in Types 302, 303Se, 304 and 316.
                                                                                                                                to preserve the appearance and integrity of
                                                                                                                                the surface. Stainless steels are easily

Table 4 CONDITIONS & FINISHES FOR PLATE                                                                                         cleaned by many different methods. They

 Condition and Finish                Description and Remarks                                                                    actually thrive with frequent cleaning, and,
 Hot rolled                          Scale not removed. Not heat treated.                                                       unlike some other materials, it is impossible
                                     Plates not recommended for final use in this condition.*                                   to "wear out" stainless steel by excessive
 Hot rolled, annealed                Scale not removed. Use of plates in this condition is generally confined                   cleaning. The effect of surface/pattern
 or heat treated                     to heat resisting applications. Scale impairs corrosion resistance.*
                                                                                                                                roughness, grain/pattern orientation, and
 Hot rolled, annealed or             Condition and finish commonly preferred for corrosion resisting and
                                                                                                                                designs that allow for maximum rain cleaning
 heat treated, blast cleaned         most heat resisting applications.
 or pickled                                                                                                                     (exterior applications) should be considered.

 Hot rolled, annealed, descaled      Smoother finish for specialized applications.
 and temper passed                                                                                                              Types of surface contaminants
 Hot rolled, annealed, descaled      Smooth finish with greater freedom from surface imperfections                              Dirt - Like any surface that is exposed to
 cold rolled, annealed, descaled,    than the above.
                                                                                                                                the environment, stainless steel can get dirty.
 optionally temper passed
                                                                                                                                Dirt and soil can consist of accumulated
 Hot rolled, annealed or heat        Polished finishes: refer to Table 2.
 treated, surface cleaned                                                                                                       dust and a variety of contaminates that
 and polished                                                                                                                   come from many sources, ranging from the
                                                                                                                                wind to everyday use. These contaminates
 * Surface inspection is not practicable on plates which have not been pickled or otherwise descaled.
                                                                                                                                will vary greatly in their effect on
                                                                                                                                appearance and corrosivity and ease of
Table 5 SPECIAL STAINLESS STEEL FINISHES                                                                                        removal. While some may be easily
 Finish                              Description                                                                                removed, others may require specific
 Selective Polishing                 Selective polishing of unprotected areas to produce patterns                               cleaners for effective removal. It may be
 Swirl                               Swirl patterns obtained with grinding wheels or stainless steel wire brushes               necessary to identify the contaminate or
 Engine Turn                         Rings, circles, or overlapping circles created with a CNC-operated machine                 experiment with various cleaners.
 Distressed                          Random scratch pattern covering entire surface
                                                                                                                                Frequently, warm water with or without a
 Angel Hair                          Finer random scratch pattern
                                                                                                                                gentle detergent is sufficient. Next in order
 Abrasive Blast                      Matte, uniform, blast media choice determines appearance
                                                                                                                                are mild non-scratching abrasive powders
 Selective Etching                   Etching of selected surface areas to obtain a pattern
                                                                                                                                such as typical household cleaners. These
 Embossing                           Raised patterns pressed into the stainless by rolling
                                                                                                                                can be used with warm water, bristle
 Electrochemical                     Applied to cut sheets, numerous colors (also called INCO or light interference coloring)
 Epoxy Paint                         Applied to coils, full range of colors                                                     brushes, sponges, or clean cloths.

 Sputtering                          Thin layer of a colored material applied to surface
 Plating                             Electroplating with colored and/or precious metals
 Perforated Designs                  Simple or elaborate patterns                                                                                                               3
    Ordinary carbon steel brushes or steel         Shop oil and Grease - Shop oils, which may          not a problem on dull finishes, or those
wool should be avoided as they may leave           carry grease, grit and metal chips,                 surfaces finished with a coarse polishing
particles embedded on the surface which            commonly produce surface soiling after              grit. The best preventative measure is to
can lead to RUSTING.                               many shop operations. Greases and other             avoid using abrasive cleaners unless
    For more aggressive cleaning, a small          contaminates may also soil surfaces in food         absolutely necessary. When abrasives are
amount of vinegar can be added to the              preparation and many other household and            needed, first experiment on an
scouring powder.                                   commercial situations. These soils may be           inconspicuous area. A "soft abrasive," such
    Cleaning should always be followed by          corrosive in themselves or may not allow the        as pumice, should be used. Abrasives can
rinsing in clean hot water.                        surface to maintain passivity, and so               permanently damage some colored and
    When water contains mineral solids,            periodic removal is a necessity. Initially,         highly polished finishes. Advice should be
which leave water spots, it is advisable to        soap or detergent and water may be tried or         obtained from the finish supplier when
wipe the surface completely with dry towels.       a combination of detergent and water plus a         cleaning special finishes. Many cleaners

Fingerprints and Stains - Fingerprints and mild    solvent. The removal of oil and grease from         contain corrosive ingredients which require

stains resulting from normal use in                stainless steel parts by immersion in               thorough post-clean rinsing with clean

consumer and architectural applications are        chemical solvents is frequently used with           water; however, thorough rinsing is

the most common surface contaminates.              cold-formed or machined parts that are              recommended for all cleaning procedures.

Fortunately, these usually affect only             laden with lubricants. This process, in its         Clean Water and Wipe - The simplest, safest,

appearance and seldom have an effect on            simplest form, consists of bringing liquid          and least costly method that will adequately

corrosion resistance. They are easy to             solvent into contact with the surface to be         do the job is always the best method.

remove by a variety of simple cleaning             cleaned and allowing dissolution to take            Stainless surfaces thrive with frequent

methods. Fingerprints are probably the             place; for example, washing a surface with          cleaning because there is no surface

most troublesome marks to remove from the          trichloroethylene or similar liquid or stirring a   coating to wear off stainless steels. A soft

surface of smooth polished or bright               batch of small parts in a container of              cloth and clean warm water should always

finished stainless steel. Fortunately, they        solvent. Non-halgenated solvents, such as           be the first choice for mild stains and loose

can be removed with a glass cleaner or by          acetone, methyl alcohol, ethyl alcohol,             dirt and soils. A final rinse with clean water

gentle rubbing with a paste of soda ash            methyl ethyl ketone, benzene, isopropyl             and a dry wipe will complete the process

(sodium carbonate) and water applied with          alcohol, toluene, mineral spirits, and              and eliminate the possibility of water stains.

a soft rag. Once again, this should be             turpentine work well.                               Solvent Cleaning - Organic solvents can be

followed by a thorough warm water rinse.             Many of these solvents are widely                 used to remove fresh fingerprints and oils

There are several special surface finishes         used as individual cleaners, but there are          and greases that have not had time to

where fingerprints present special problems:       thousands of blended or compound cleaners           oxidize or decompose. The preferred

polished No. 6, etched, some abrasive              on the market. Users are advised to contact         solvent is one that does not contain chlorine,

blasted finishes, and light electrochemical        suppliers of solvents for information on their      such as acetone, methyl alcohol, and

colors applied over satin or brushed finishes.     applications on stainless steel.                    mineral spirits. There are many
                                                                                                       compounded or blended organic cleaners
(NOTE: there are several special finishes
                                                   TYPES OF CLEANERS                                   that are commercially available and attempt
designed to withstand fingerprints:                AND METHODS
                                                                                                       to optimize both cleanability and safety
embossed, swirl patterns, lined patterns, etc.).   General Precautions
                                                                                                       attributes. Cleaning can be accomplished
                                                   In selecting cleaning practices, consider the       by immersing smaller articles directly into
                                                   possibility of scratching and the potential for     the solvent, wiping with solvent-impregnated
                                                   post-cleaning corrosion caused by                   cloths, or by sophisticated vapor or spray
                                                   incompletely removed cleaners. Scratching           methods. The wiping technique sometimes
                                                   can occur on a bright mirror finish by              leaves a streaked surface.
                                                   cleaners that contain hard abrasives, or
                                                   even by "grit" in wash water. This is usually

EFFECTIVE CLEANING METHODS                                                                                                   CARE OF STAINLESS STEEL

Job                          Cleaning Agents*                                   Comments                                     The cleaner stainless steel can be kept
                                                                                                                             while in storage, being processed or during
Routine Cleaning             Warm Water, Soap, Ammonia, Detergent               Apply with sponge or soft cloth.
                                                                                Can be used on all finishes.                 use, the greater the assurance of optimum
                                                                                                                             corrosion resistance. Some tips on the care
Fingerprints and Smears 3M Stainless Steel Cleaner and Polish,                  Provides barrier film to minimize
                        Arcal 20, Lac-O-Nu, Lumin Wash, O'Cedar                 fingerprints. Can be used on all finishes.   of stainless steel are listed below:
                        Cream Polish, Stainless Shine
                                                                                                                             1) Use paper or other protective
                                                                                                                                wrapping on the surface of the
Stubborn Stains              3M Stainless Steel Cleaner and Polish,             Rub lightly, using dry damp cloth, in
                                                                                                                                stainless steel until processing
and Discoloration            Allchem Concentrated Cleaner, Samae,               the direction of polish lines on the
                             Twinkle, Cameo Copper Cleaner, Grade FFF           stainless steel.                                is complete.*
                             or Grade F Italian Pumice, Whiting or talc,
                                                                                                                             2) Handle stainless steel with clean
                             Liquid Nu Steel, Copper's or Revere Stainless
                             Steel Cleaner, Household Cleaners, Lumin                                                           gloves or cloths to guard against
                             Cleaner, Zud Restoro, Sta-Clean, Highlite,
                                                                                                                                stains or finger marks.
                             Allen Polish, Penny-Brite, Copper-Brite
                                                                                                                             3) Avoid the use of oily rags or greasy
Grease and Blood             Scotch-Brite Power Pad 2001, Easy-Off,             Excellent removal on acids, all finishes.
                                                                                                                                cloths when wiping the surface.
Burnt-on or                  De-Grease-It, 4% to 6% hot solution                Particularly useful where rubbing
Baked-on Foods               of such agents as tri-sodium polyphosphate,        is not practical.                            4) Do routine cleaning of exposed
                             5% to 15% caustic soda solution
                                                                                                                                surfaces. Buildings with window
Grease and Oil               Any good commercial detergent or                   Apply with sponge or soft cloth in              washing systems can utilize this
                             caustic cleanser.                                  direction of polish lines.
                                                                                                                                method to clean exterior panels.
*NOTE: Use of proprietary names is intended only to indicate a type of cleaner and does not constitute an endorsement.       5) Where possible, after cleaning,
 Omission of any proprietary cleanser does not imply its inadequacy. All products should be used in strict accordance
 with instructions on package.                                                                                                  rinse thoroughly with water.
                                                                                                                             6) Cleaning with chloride-containing
Household Cleaners - Household cleaners fall                   or low in chloride. The cleaning method                          detergents must be avoided.
into two categories: detergent (non-abrasive)                  generally employed with these cleaners is to                  7) Even the finest cleaning powders
and abrasive cleaners. Both are effective for                  apply them to the stainless surface and                          can scratch or burnish a mill-rolled
many mild dirt, stain, and soil deposits, as                   follow by cloth wiping, or to wipe directly                      finish. On polished finishes,
well as light oils such as fingerprints. The                   with a cleaner-impregnated soft cloth. In all                    rubbing or wiping should be done
abrasive cleaners are more effective but                       cases, the cleaned surface should be                             in the direction of the polish lines,
introduce the possibility of scratching the                    thoroughly rinsed with clean water and                           NOT across them.
surface. However, the degree of                                wiped dry with a soft cloth if water streaking                8) DO NOT USE SOLVENTS in closed
abrasiveness will vary greatly with the                        is a consideration.                                              spaces or while smoking.
particular product, and some brands will                       Commercial Cleaners - Many commercial
produce noticeable scratching on only the                      cleaners compounded from phosphates,                             *Many adhesive-backed papers and plastic
most highly polished and some colored                                                                                           sheets or tape applied to stainless steel for
                                                               synthetic detergents, and alkalis are
                                                                                                                                protection "age" in fairly short periods of time
surfaces. All of these cleaners vary widely                    available for the cleaning of severely soiled
                                                                                                                                and become extremely difficult to remove.
with respect to their acidity and the amount                   or stained stainless surfaces. When used                           Manufacturers should be contacted
of chloride they contain. A neutral cleaner                    with a variety of cleaning methods, these                        regarding information as to how long
low in chloride is preferred unless the user is                cleaners can safely provide effective                            protective films or paper can be left in place.
assured that the surface can be thoroughly                     cleaning. Manufacturers should be
rinsed after cleaning. The fact that the label                 consulted and their recommendations
states "for stainless steel" is no guarantee                   followed whenever using cleaners of this
that the product is not abrasive, not acidic,                  kind. The general precautions stated above
                                                               also pertain to these cleaners.


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