Although stainless steel is very resistant to corrosion, factors exist that cause stainless steel to stain or discolour, impairing the overall look. This brown discolouration, also known as tea staining, does not affect the structural integrity or the longevity of the material and it can be controlled.
Any discolouration should be removed immediately or permanent discolouration and pitting of the surface could occur. In most cases, if attended to immediately, the product can be restored to its original condition.
In coastal or caustic environments stainless steel finishes may tea stain if not washed regularly to remove salt. Cleaning involves washing with a potable, low chloride water or washing with a neutral detergent followed by rinsing with clean water. If products are not regularly washed, pits may develop and the surface may be permanently damaged.
Most discolouration can be removed with a mild cleanser or a specialist stainless steel cleanser and a non-scratch cleaning sponge or cloth.
Apply clean water with the cleaning sponge and rub gently. If the mark does not shift, apply the specialist stainless steel cleanser and rub gently. An old toothbrush can be used to get into any difficult areas. The surface should then be thoroughly rinsed with clean water and buffed with a soft cloth.
NEVER rub across the grain as the finish may be spoiled, the stainless may lose its shine and the finish may pull threads from the cloth which may be difficult to remove.
NEVER use steel wool to clean stainless steel. Steel wool is usually made from carbon steel and the fragments left behind, as well as scratching the surface, will rust onto the stainless steel surface causing further damage. If a scourer is to be used, use a plastic scourer or a stainless steel wool scourer.