November 14, 2012 2 min read
As far as railings go, stainless steel designs are probably the easiest to maintain because they are significantly less prone to water damage than wood and look fairly neutral in residential, commercial or industrial environments.
No material is maintenance free, however, and even a stainless steel handrail will need regular cleaning. It's true that, as the name suggests, the metal isn't likely to stain, but germs spread easily on railings, especially in stairways with heavy foot traffic.
The good news is you can use any basic household cleaner to disinfect a railing. The bad news is, many of these cleaners have a harsh chemical smell that irritate sensitive sinuses. If you or a family member have this problem, there are organic options available that will clean your handrails without making you sneeze.
Vinegar is pretty much the ultimate cleaning tool as it functions as a great degreaser and sanitizer in almost any situation. Mixed with water, the universal solvent, you have a perfectly acceptable alternative to expensive chemical based products you'd buy at the store.
VersatileVinegar.com, a resource explaining the many ways to use this multi-faceted substance, recommends using equal parts vinegar and water to clean surfaces like glass or stainless steel where fingerprint marks may leave unsightly blemishes. Pour this simple solution into a spray bottle and gently wipe down a small inconspicuous portion of the stairs to test your cleaner. If your handrail looks shiny and clean, continue the wiping all sides of the handrail going the entire length of the stairway.
Though you may be removing fingerprints, you want to be sure you aren't just creating new problems for yourself, as watermarks will develop on stainless steel that isn't properly dried. Be sure to go over your handrail with a dry rag after you do the initial scrubbing to catch any drips or wet spots you may have missed the first round.
Before applying this technique to the whole bannister, be sure to test it out on a small, inconspicuous spot on the railing to make sure the solution won't leave any blemishes.
Aside from this basic maintenance, there's little else that needs to be done to keep your stainless steel handrail looking great.
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