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In most cleanrooms, labs, sterile environments, and manufacturing facilities, stainless steel is everywhere.
Below are tips for how to clean stainless steel to ensure best GMP practices and to prolong the life of your stainless steel furniture and equipment.
These recommendations apply to: stainless steel tables, stainless steel benches, stainless steel stools, stainless steel garment racks, and more.
Stainless steel is one of the best materials in cleanrooms and labs, and for good reason – because it resists corrosion, holds up to rigorous cleanings, and helps prevent product contamination.
How To Clean Stainless SteelA thin layer of chromium oxide protects stainless steel from corrosion. When stainless steel furniture and equipment is new, it acquires its oxide film as soon as it’s exposed to oxygen in the atmosphere. In order to protect this passive film, you need to clean stainless steel frequently. Otherwise contamination from dirt and debris will trap corrosive agents and reduce the protection that prevents corrosion.
You can clean stainless steel as often as you like – the more often, the better. Unlike other materials found in cleanrooms and labs, stainless steel will never “wear out” from repeated or excessive cleanings. Because there’s no surface coating to erode, stainless steel surfaces can tolerate unlimited cleanings.
Cleaning Stainless Steel With WaterFor most types of dirt, soil, liquids, and other materials that might be found on tables, benches, stools, and equipment, water will do the trick for cleaning stainless steel. Use a soft cloth and warm water to clean stainless steel, and that should remove most materials, including mild stains. To avoid water stains, do a final rinse with clean water and a dry cloth.
Cleaning Stainless Steel With SolventsIf you need to remove fingerprints, oils, or greases from stainless steel surfaces, you may need to use a solvent. It’s important, however, that you choose a solvent that doesn’t include chlorine, so you’ll need to avoid acetone, mineral spirits, and isopropyl alcohol.
What To Do If Stainless Steel RustsChlorine solutions can remove the protective chromium oxide layers from stainless steel surfaces, exposing them to iron and causing corrosion. Carbon steel tools and equipment that scratch stainless steel surfaces can also lead to rust. Once rust sets in on stainless steel, the only way to fix it is through passivation.
Passivation is the process of treating stainless steel with a mild oxidant (a nitric acid solution, for example) that will cause the protective passive film to form again.
How To Prevent Stainless Steel From RustingPassivation is a great step you can take as a preventive measure to avoid rust, and protect your investment in your stainless steel cleanroom furniture and stainless steel cleanroom equipment.
By performing passivation on a regular basis, you can make the stainless steel resistant to corrosion. The easiest way to ensure passivation is to clean your stainless steel with deionized water, which will help protect the surfaces and ensure that the table, bench, stool, or equipment is ultraclean.
Please note that if you need to use a chlorine solution in your cleanroom, lab, or sterile environment electropolished furniture and equipment is the answer. The process of electropolishing removes the metal ions from stainless steel that are susceptible to corrosion when exposed to chlorine.
If you have any questions about how to clean stainless steel, or if you’d like recommendations for which type of stainless steel furniture or equipment would work best for your cleanroom or lab, contact us at (303) 752-0056 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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We have 316 stainless steel tables (all welded construction, in custom sizes) that are ideal for pharmaceutical manufacturing, cleanrooms, labs, and other sterile environments.