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Using chlorine near stainless steel?

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I know that chlorine and stainless steel don't get along well, so I never use chlorine directly in stainless steel. However, there are plenty of times when I use chlorine to clean or disinfect something in my kitchen, and end up washing everything in my stainless steel sink.

Anyone have any experience or scientific know how on this subject? How much chlorine is hitting near the danger point? I'm kind of a germ freak, so there are plenty of times when I want to soak something in a bleach solution, and the whole shebang sits in the sink for a 15-30 minutes.

Seems to me that the diluted chlorine solutions I'm using can't be that much of a danger.

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  1. I have used chlorine bleach disinfectants, occasionally, on stainless steel sinks over the years. About the only thing that may be happening is that the finish is dulling. I rinse it really well and I don't do it regularly. I have given stained items a soak in the sink without any real issues that I can't otherwise attribute to normal wear and tear. I have switched to kitchen disinfectant sprays and wipes that don't have chlorine for most tasks, like cleaning up after chicken cutting, and while that is a more expensive alternative, I'd recommend considering that instead. A little cheaper and milder way to go is to use antibacterial detergent dish soap and give it a good rinse with hot water when you are done. I have no idea if it is as effective as bleach, but it makes me feel better about things and I know it doesn't seem to harm the finish..

    1. Tom, I always recommend against anti-bacterial anything. It doesn't clean any better and only helps to promote and breed drug-resistant strains of bacteria. It has become far to common in soaps, lotions, cremes, sponges, etc. Normal soap an water are still the best. People, don't use this junk!

      As to your question, I used to work in many restaurants and we always used a diluted bleach-water solution to clean stainless and all work surfaces. I've never seen any negative effects from this. The solution was 10% bleach. It was changed twice a day. I hope this helps.

      3 Replies
      1. re: redgoblin

        So, are you recommending NOT using antibacterial soap or cleaner on your counters and sinks after cutting and washing something that is likely infected with microbes, like salmonella in a chicken or e coli in a hamburger? I was always under the impression that you needed very hot, soapy water -- much hotter than your faucet will deliver -- or an antibacterial soap to get rid of these things from the food prep surfaces. I put the cutting boards in the superheated dishwasher, so that is not a concern, but the counter and the sink certainly are because of the possibility of cross contamination. I wouldn't want to put fresh fruits or veggies in there without disinfecting. Isn't that why your restaurants are using the 10% bleach solution?

        1. re: RGC1982

          One does not need antibacterial soap or cleaner for household use. The wide spread (common) use of antibotics are creating antibiotic resistant bacteria.

          If you know people in the medical field, ask them about antibotic cleansers, "they" have to wash their hands/forearms for as long as 10 minutes with an antibacterial wash (Betadine), do you really think your efforts approximate 10 minutes?

          I too recommend not using antibacterial soap and cleaners on counters. If one lets the counter dry, the bacteria will die. I read an article, most (dry) bathroom counters are "cleaner" than (wet) kitchen counters. I added the (dry) and (wet) because the article was not written that way, but that was the implication. I believe the article was in the Berkeley Wellness Letter sometime this year.

          Hot water can kill some "germs", but one usually can not use water hot enough with out injury. Soap (soap made from animal or vegetable fats) does more to remove "germs" than kill them.

          I would rather get a few germs and develop a resistance than try to live in a sterile environment and get very sick from having developed no germ resistance.

          Please do some research on this, google can be your friend.

          If one is getting salmonella in their chicken or e coli in their hamburger, one needs to change suppliers.

          1. re: RGC1982

            I don't allow antibacterial soap of any kind into my house. Not for handwashing, not for dishwashing - nada. I use chlorine bleach to disinfect my wooden countertop from time to time, and my sink once in a while. Bleach works very differently than an antibiotic agent. Biologists may wish to correct me but my understanding is that you can't develop a resistance to bleach and live to survive as a stronger organism, but you can develop an antibiotic resistance. These antibiotics are creating resistant critters and causing the legitimate use of antibiotics for fighting disease to be less effective.

            Anyway, as far as I know, I have never had an outbreak of anything food-borne from my kitchen - ever. And I've fed a LOT of people over 30-odd years. It all boils down to basic, common sense kitchen hygiene. And you don't need an antibacterial soap for that. Not trying to criticize anyone here, just hoping that we can reduce the use of these unnecessary products. We have been sold a bill of goods by an industry who sees a market driven by groundless germ-phobia.

            Obviously my remarks do not apply to anyone with a compromised immune system. But for average, reasonably healthy people.

        2. In general you don't want want hot bleach solutions to sit in contact for periods of time on stainless steel. Stainless steel will react with the ions in the bleach solution. Overtime you'll see some pitting on the surface of the steel. In biotech, steaming under high pressure is an industry standard. For household use, boiling in water to disinfect is perfectly fine.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Cary

            To add a PS to Alan 408's remommendations. If you are on a spetic system you can do a lot of damage to it using a lot of anti-bacterial products iin your home. They can destroy the good bacteria in the system that helps break things down. It can be a very expensive repair problem.

          2. A friend of mine said that once he boiled a chorine solution in a stainless steel pot and it ate a hole in the pot. Don't know how strong the solution was or how long he boiled it... when I asked him why he would even do such a thing he mumbled something about sterilization for beer brewing. He may have had a few just before this incident, too....

            1 Reply
            1. re: Bat Guano

              You run into dilute chlorine in a swimming pool or tap water. Did you know that if you fill an aquarium with tap water,and wait 24 hours.it's safe for tropical fish because almost all the chlorine has evaporated. Restaurants always used to use bleach on the woodcutting tables. We used white vinegar to clean all the stainless on the line.

              I would not worry about dilute bleach as a kitchen sanitizer as it basically evaporates and doesn't leave a residue.