How to: Clean Stainless Steel Medical Equipment


Stainless steel is steel alloyed with chromium to make it highly resistant to stain, rust and corrosion. Note: This does NOT mean that stainless steel will never rust or corrode. Science has not yet developed a steel which is completely stainless or corrosion PROOF. The type of stainless steel and finish selected by SSCI for the Total Animal Pens is the best available for the intended use.

Cleaning & Cleansers

The basic rule of thumb is to use the mildest cleaning procedure that will do the job effectively.

Always rinse thoroughly with clear water, and dry completely. Frequent cleaning will prolong the service life of stainless steel equipment and will help maintain a bright, pleasing appearance. Ordinary deposits of waste and fluids can usually be removed with soap and water. More stubborn deposits or tightly adhering debris may require harder scrubbing. They also may possibly require the use of commercial cleaning products acceptable for use on metal surfaces.

When using any cleaning agent, rub in the direction of the polish lines or “grain” of the metal. For high luster finishes, clean soft cloths or pads should be used. If especially rough cleaning is necessary, use “stainless steel” wool, nylon or plastic scrubbers. Test these scrubbers in an inconspicuous area first to be sure they do not mark or scratch the stainless steel finish.

Minor scale build-up and some hard water spotting may be removed by washing with some vinegar, followed by a neutralizing rinse with clear water. A thorough drying with a soft cloth should follow. For heavy deposits of scale, 5% oxalic acid (use warm), 5-15% sulfuric acid, or
5-10% phosphoric acid may be used. Always follow with a neutralizing rinse of clean water and a thorough drying.

Deodorizing Agents, Disinfectants, & Sanitizers

The large selection of brands and combinations of chemicals available for deodorizing, disinfecting and sanitizing is staggering. Select one or more agents for use in your facility only after weighing in all the benefits claimed by each product. Often this choice is made without adequate consideration of the effects these agents may produce on equipment or furnishings.

Avoid prolonged use of chlorides (such as chlorine bleach), bromides, iodides and thiocyanate on stainless steel surfaces as these chemicals will cause pitting, corrosion and metal discoloration. Allowing salty solutions to evaporate and dry on stainless steel may also contribute to corrosive conditions. In summary, select chemical deodorizers, disinfectants and/or sanitizers only after weighing in all possible outcomes and known adverse effects.

CAUTION: Before selecting a chemical to employ in your facility, review label statements regarding use with metals (stainless steel). Always consult the chemical supplier if there are any doubts.