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How To Remove Rust From Stainless Steel

Stainless steel might sound like it's impervious to stains, but it's more accurate to think of it as "hard to stain" steel. While stainless steel contains mostly steel — which is prone to rusting — it gains its rust-resistant properties from chromium. When exposed to oxygen, the chromium forms a thin layer called chromium oxide, which covers the steel's surface, shielding it from rust and stains. However, if this protective layer gets damaged, rust can form at those points. The good news is the chromium oxide layer has a self-healing capability with some proper care.

To maintain this protective layer, it's crucial to steer clear of cleaners containing chlorides — like fluorine, chlorine, bromine, or iodine — as well as alcohol, ammonia, or mineral spirits, as they can harm the layer. Steel wool or steel brushes should also be avoided because they can leave tiny particles on stainless steel that may lead to rusting. Caustic cleaners containing these substances should be used with extreme caution and must be thoroughly removed from the stainless-steel surface after use because they can damage the chromium oxide layer.

Proper cleaning is essential for preserving stainless steel and its protective layer. For everyday cleaning to remove dirt, dust, fingerprints, and other non-oxidized soils, a mild soap or detergent mixed with warm water works well. After cleaning, rinse with fresh water and dry thoroughly. Alternatively, we recommend using a stainless-steel cleaner like 3M Stainless Steel Cleaner.

To tackle oxidized stains or surface rust, mix baking soda and water to create, and the resulting paste can be effective at removing rust. Alternatively, cleaners containing oxalic acid — e.g. Bar Keeper's Friend Soft Cleanser — can also be used for this purpose. With regular care and the right cleaning methods, stainless steel can resist rust and maintain its sleek appearance for years to come.

Please note, this only applies to Zephyr range hoods, microwave drawers, Presrv™ coolers, kegerators, and refrigerators made with stainless-steel metal. Zephyr range hoods that do not specify stainless steel in their spec sheet or user manual have different cleaning requirements. Zephyr Presrv® indoor coolers only use stainless steel on their doors, therefore the cleaning instructions indicated above would not pertain to the sides and backs of those models. Please check your spec sheet and user manual for details on what metal your Zephyr product is made with.

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