Stainless steel does not “rust” as one thinks of regular steel rusting with a red oxide on the surface that flakes off. If you see “red rust” it is probably because the product was contaminated or there is iron in the water supplied to the shower. Airborne iron particles can become embedded in the surface, or the stainless steel could have been exposed to steel products resulting in contamination. These particles are much less corrosion resistant than the stainless steel and rust, making it appear that the stainless steel is rusting.
Stainless steel should never be cleaned with steel wool or an abrasive cleaner. In most cases, light staining can be removed with a fine abrasive cleaner, scouring powder, or non-metallic abrasive scouring pad such as a Scotch Brite® pad. Stainless Steel Cleaner and WD-40 are excellent and practical cleaners and polishers for stainless steel. Apply the cleaning product in the same direction as the finish to minimize damage. Stainless Steel cleaner can be purchased at most home improvement stores.
Stainless steel is the preferred material for providing aesthetic appeal, strength, durability, corrosion resistance and ease of fabrication at beachside and pool properties. It’s possible, however, for problems to occur regarding stainless alloys in natatorium environments. But aquatics professionals can generally avoid potential problems by paying proper attention to pool operation, maintenance and material selection.
Aggressive environments – The chloramines produced by pools disinfected with chlorine-based chemicals can pass into the atmosphere, where they can accumulate as condensate on above-water surfaces. When the chloramines decompose, they can form a solution that initiates corrosion of underlying metals.
Do not add chlorine to your pool nearby stainless steel equipment, and rinse the stainless steel if in the same area where chemicals are added.
Do not store stainless steel products in a closed area underneath steel beams or where other steel products can contaminate the surface, or in areas where chlorine is stored.
Do not clean with steel wool, sandpaper, mineral acids, or bleaches or chlorine.
Occasionally, operators or owners report “rusting” or staining on their outdoor showers. Staining that looks like rust can be caused by the pool environment, lead content in the water, chlorine-based chemicals, chemicals in the atmosphere, or contact with undesirable other contaminants or chemicals. The brown stains on stainless steel components do not impair the structural integrity of the product. It is advisable to clean stainless steel products in salt water conditions weekly and apply a protective coating to prevent staining.
Operators should use caution when cleaning with muriatic acid or bleach solutions for disinfection. Such chemicals should immediately and thoroughly be rinsed from stainless surfaces in the vicinity. Brushes with carbon steel bristles or steel wool should never be used on stainless surfaces. Iron particles from these pads will contaminate the surface. NEVER use an iron-based product on stainless steel.