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Fight stainless steel's biggest (and smallest) foe: fingerprints

By: The Washington Post
May 19, 2018 Updated: May 19, 2018 at 7:47 am
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Designer Elizabeth Pash's kitchen features stainless steel not just on the appliances but also on a retractable "garage" to conceal smaller appliances, with a trio of stainless-steel cabinets above. MUST CREDIT: Josh Gaddy.

When interior designer Elizabeth Pash set about renovating her Manhattan kitchen, she knew she wanted a mix of materials: wood for the cabinetry, honed marble for the countertops and stainless steel for the appliances. Pash also used stainless steel for other elements. Her custom range hood was built with sheets of matte stainless steel and trimmed with polished stainless steel, and a retractable stainless-steel "garage" conceals smaller appliances with a trio of stainless-steel cabinets above.

"There are a lot of trends that seem to come and go in kitchen design, but stainless steel has played a role in kitchens for a long time, and I think it will be here for years to come," she says.

Stainless steel is easier to clean and maintain than cabinetry and marble countertops, Pash says.

Stainless steel is not only classic, but also gives a kitchen a more professional look. It conveys a serious, strong vibe and projects a sense that real cooking takes place there. And stainless steel won't chip, fade or stain.

But don't confuse its durability for indestructibility; stainless steel can scratch and dent, and by far the biggest complaint owners have is that the surface shows fingerprints.

Joel Chesebro, head demonstration chef for Sub-Zero, Wolf and Cove and father of three, knows all too well what toddler paws can do to stainless-steel surfaces. He and his wife, Jenny, admit that for years, "wiping those little fingerprints fell to the bottom of our task list." But because stainless steel is very cleanable, he says, it's still the best choice for any environment where cleanliness is most important. Unlike other surfaces that mask dirt, he says, stainless steel shows when it needs to be cleaned.

The best way to prevent fingerprints from showing is to use a wax-based spray made for treating stainless steel. Pash likes 3M's Stainless Steel Cleaner & Polish.

At the showroom in New York, where the appliances need to look their shiniest, the staff members use Zep Stainless Steel Polish. Although they use it once a week, most homeowners would be fine using it once or twice a month.

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