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Stainless steel is a popular choice for kitchen appliances, jewelry, and cutlery due to its sleek appearance, corrosion resistance, and durability. Shining glossy is one of the factors that people choose it. However, does your stainless steel keep shining during use?

Numerous myths and misconceptions surrounding stainless steel tarnish can cause confusion among consumers. In this post, you will learn the truth about stainless steel tarnish and learn some tips on cleaning and maintaining them. It will help you keep your stainless steel projects looking new for years to come.

Get ready to discover the secrets of keeping your stainless steel sparkling!

Why Is Stainless Steel Shiny

What material is the new favorite in decoration? It is stainless steel, no doubt. It is an alloy with strong durability, excellent weather ability, and corrosion resistance, made of iron, chromium, and nickel. Primitive ​stainless steel has a rough and dull surface because dirt and oxide are attached to the surface.

In order to fabricate attractive stainless steel products, the manufacturer makes its surface smooth and shiny by using annealing, pickling, polishing, and other processing methods. By processing, the properties of regular stainless steel will be greatly improved. It is often used in architectural decoration, ornaments, kitchenware, surgical instruments, and industrial equipment.

Due to its unrivaled corrosion resistance, stainless steel does not rust or stain as easily as other metals. So, does it means that the stainless steel will not rust or tarnish? In fact, over time, stainless steel can develop a dull, grayish patina from exposure to oxygen and moisture. This process is called tarnishing.

As decorative metal materials, stainless steel supports various processing, including but not limited to sandblasted, brushed, polished, colored, and embossed. These processes can make your stainless steel play a better decorative effect. Of course, it requires proper cleaning and maintenance to keep shining. However, several misconceptions exist about cleaning and protecting stainless steel from tarnishing.

Myth1: Does Stainless Steel Tarnish

Tarnished means no longer attractive. Like a human face, with the passage of time, the immature face will eventually be full of vicissitudes. The gloss fades 1-2 times faster in a humid environment than in an ordinary environment. So, stainless steel, which has the best corrosion resistance and durability, will it tarnish over time? The answer is yes. Stainless steel that was once shiny and attractive will start to look dull and lose its original luster.

The reason why regular stainless steel has anti-rust and anti-corrosion properties is that the chromium it contains will spontaneously oxidize to form an oxide film after contacting with air, reducing the possibility of corrosion of the steel body. It is this film that gives stainless steel its distinctive shiny appearance. After polishing, wire-drawn, coloring, and other fine processing, the corrosion resistance of stainless steel is almost unrivaled by other metal materials.

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Even so, this does not mean that stainless steel is adequately protected from rust and tarnish. When the surface passivation film is damaged or removed, the metal beneath the film becomes oxidized and stained. Exposure to moisture for a long time will eventually reduce the appearance of stainless steel. Especially in a chemical environment, the tarnish rate of stainless steel is 3-4 times that of an ordinary environment.

Despite exposure to a wet environment, stainless steel retains its appearance for a long time compared to other metals. It still provides a degree of resistance before eventually losing its luster. Perhaps this explains why stainless steel products seem so durable. This makes it ideal for use in the construction industry for supporting large structures. In addition to the construction industry, stainless steel can also be seen in components such as jewelry, medical equipment, watches, and semiconductors.

You may also ask: is it necessary to choose a particular type of stainless steel? Of course. When it comes to tarnishing, the type of stainless steel used is important. Different types of stainless steel have different levels of corrosion resistance. Some steels may be severely affected during tarnishing, while others are less affected. These differences are mainly caused by their composition, including manganese, chromium, carbon, nickel, and iron.

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Take 316 stainless steel and 304 stainless steel as an example. SS 316 belongs to medium-grade stainless steel, while SS 304 is low-grade stainless steel. 316 stainless steel contains higher mineral elements such as iron, Cr, Ni, Mn, and C than SS 304. So, SS 316 has better corrosion and high-temperature resistance than SS 304. Secondly, 316 stainless steel contains a small amount of Mo, which gives it better acid and alkali resistance, suitable for the chemical industry. In general, 316 stainless steel is less prone to discoloration than 304 stainless steel.

When choosing stainless steel, the use environment and service life should be considered comprehensively, and the appropriate stainless steel should be correctly selected. If you are unsure which stainless steel type or finish to use, you can provide your requirements to your suppliers, who will assist you in selecting the stainless steel right.

Myth2: Why Does Stainless Steel Rust

In most people’s minds, it is impossible for stainless steel to tarnish and rust. This viewpoint is wrong. However, stainless steel is much more corrosion-resistant than other types of metals. But when the level of external damage reaches a protective threshold, an otherwise robust performance becomes vulnerable. For example, if you live in an area with high humidity or salt water, your stainless steel appliances, which are not made of 316 stainless steel, may be more likely to develop rust.

In a general way, there are 4 main factors that cause stainless steel to rust: composition, surface finishing, environment, and maintenance. The environment is the largest factor. When you use stainless steel in an environment containing chlorine, the corrosion of stainless steel will be accelerated.

Composition is the internal influencing factor but also the decisive factor. Cr is the main element affecting the corrosion resistance of stainless steel. Due to different chromium content, its corrosion resistance strength is different. Austenitic stainless steels have the highest corrosion resistance. If you want to use stainless steel in a corrosive environment, Austenitic stainless steel is the first choice, such as 316 and 304.

If you notice rust on your stainless steel surfaces, removing it as soon as possible is important. If left unchecked, rust can spread quickly and cause damage to the metal. Once you’ve removed the rust, protect your stainless steel surfaces from future corrosion by regularly cleaning and polishing them.

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Myth3: Is Your Stainless Steel Maintenance Free

There is a common conception that stainless steel is impervious to rust and therefore does not require any maintenance. Reading this, we can disprove this perception and build a new view that stainless steel will tarnish and rust over time. Especially if your stainless steel is not properly cared for, it will accelerate tarnish or rust.

To keep your stainless steel looking its best, it is important to clean and polish it regularly. It would help to use a mild cleaner and soft fiber cloth to maintain stainless steel products. Because the harsh chemicals or abrasive cleaners will damage the finish, resulting in irreparable damage.

If your stainless steel does start to show signs of wear, do not despair! There are a number of ways to restore its original luster. For example, you can use a specialty cleaner or polishing kit designed specifically for this purpose. With a little effort, you can keep your stainless steel looking new for years.

does your stainless steel tarnish

There are 3 tips for preventing tarnish and rust on stainless steel.

Due to its excellent appearance and unique properties, stainless steel is a popular choice for jewelry, flatware, hardware, and structural components. However, the stainless steel will tarnish over time. So it would be best if you took some measures to care for it:

Tips 1. If your jewelry is stainless steel, please store them in a cool, dry place.

Tips 2. As everyone knows, water and chemicals can accelerate the tarnishing or rusting of stainless steel. Please do not expose your stainless steel in the environment with water or chemicals, including the swimming pool and shower.

Tips 3. Regular maintenance helps stainless steel stay bright. Polish your stainless steel products regularly with a soft cloth.

If your stainless steel product does become tarnished or rusted, do not get a new one just yet. Here are 3 tips to help you to regain the brightness of stainless steel:

– If your stainless steel jewelry does become tarnished, please try to clean it with a mild detergent and a soft-bristled brush.

– If your stainless steel jewelry becomes rusty, use vinegar and baking soda to clean it.

– You can use a stainless steel cleaner to remove corrosion when architectural stainless steel systems become tarnished or rusty.

Dawn® and Sprayway® brand glass cleaners may routinely clean stainless steel. Krud Kutter® cleaner can help you to remove tea staining. Unique polishing product, like Sprayway® or 3M®, is also a good option to regain the brightness of stainless steel.

Stainless Steel Finishing Company

TOPSON Metal is the stainless steel manufacturer under the TOPSON Group, with over 15 years of experience in stainless steel decorative sheets and metal fabrication works. As a world-class supplier, we are equipped with several surface treatment and PVD / LIC production lines.

Our stainless steel decorative sheets are applied with various surface finishes and colors. Basic stainless steel finishes include hairline, satin, mirror, etching, bead blast, embossed, and vibration. Also, support to mix surface treatment, such as hairline gold and mirror etching rose gold. We have provided stainless steel products to over 1000+ clients worldwide, including artists, designers, building contractors, and metal suppliers.


Stainless steel is a great material, but it requires proper care to avoid tarnishing. Knowing the truth about stainless steel tarnish and debunking myths and misconceptions will help you keep your stainless steel products looking their best for years. With these tips in mind, you’ll be able to successfully take care of stainless steel products without worrying about them losing their shine over time.

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