Can You Use SOS Pads on Stainless Steel?

Stainless steel has become a fixture in many homes over the course of the last couple of decades. The shiny finish, sophisticated color, and durability make it an ideal choice for kitchens, outdoor spaces, and many more.

With the proliferation of this material, more people are wondering how to keep it clean. Can you damage it by cleaning it too rough? Are SOS Pads a viable strategy for removing stubborn grime from stainless steel?

While stainless steel is very resistant to the elements, it can be scratched by gritty surfaces like steel wool. Use of SOS Pads or Brillo Pads can be done with caution.

What are SOS Pads?

SOS Pads are a brand of cleaning pads that is saturated with a powerful grease-cutting soap. They are marketed for restoring surfaces like outdoor furniture, gardening tools, and sports equipment. The brand originally sold SOS Steel Wool Pads to clean the new aluminum pans that were gaining popularity in the fifty’s and have rebranded themselves to follow the stainless-steel trend. Today, they sell Steel Wool pads as well as Non-Scratch Pads.

Can You Use SOS Pads on All Stainless-Steel Surfaces?

SOS Steel Wool Pads are marketed for use on a variety of surfaces, including stainless steel. They claim to be non scratching, but this is a misnomer. Over time, steel wool will scratch a surface, but in finer grades like SOS pads this will take several uses. This can damage the coating of stainless steel and make it less rust-resistant.

Overall, using SOS pads on your stainless steel will not cause any immediate harm to the surface or your health, but will shorten the life of the stainless steel. Their synthetic Non-Scratch Pads should be safe on your stainless steel, however.

Which Stainless Steel Surfaces Should You Avoid SOS Pads on?

Any stainless-steel surface which you want to remain shiny and beautiful should not have SOS Steel Wool Pads used on them frequently. This product will damage and remove the finish, making your stainless-steel look dull. Instead, vinegar cleaners and nonabrasive cloths along with mineral oil will keep it looking shiny. If you must use an SOS Pad, then choose the non-Scratch variety.

How Do SOS Pads Damage Stainless Steel?

Steel wool like that which makes up SOS Pads is a ball of fine metal strands twisted together. It cleans by scratching away at a surface, much like a toothbrush on your teeth. Over time, this can remove bits of material from the surface and cause microscopic scratches. The finer the grit, the smaller the scratches. If enough of these scratches build up over time, the material will look dull and lose its’ shine.S.O.S. Steel Wool Soap Pads, 4 Count

What Grade Grit are SOS Pads?

SOS Steel Wool Pads are a very fine grit, 0000. In the automotive industry, this grit is used for buffing chrome or removing thin layers of paint. This fine grit will clean without causing noticeable damage to a surface for several uses. However, continued use of SOS Pads will shorten the life of your stainless steel.

Are SOS Pads Available in Different Grits?

SOS Pads come in two varieties, the original steel wool pads, and the non-scratch pads. The non-scratch pads are synthetic instead of steel wool, and as such do not pose the same risks to your stainless-steel surfaces. Synthetics are designed to be softer than the metal, but harder than the dirt. This means that while the fibers will not affect the metal, they will scratch away at the grime.

Can You Use SOS Pads on Glass?

Using SOS Pads on Glass is something that you technically can do, but I would not suggest it. To avoid damaging the glass you would need to be very gentle, and at that point is the product any better than a cloth.

Should You Wear Gloves When Using SOS Pads?

SOS Pads are saturated with a powerful soap, which can dry out your hands. It is suggested to wear gloves while using them if dry skin is a concern.

Can You Use Brillo Pads on Stainless Steel?

For the same reason that traditional SOS Pads should not be used on stainless steel, I cannot recommend the use of Brillo Pads. Brillo Pads are also made of steel wool, and likely to damage the finish on stainless steel over time.

Final Thoughts

When cleaning stainless steel, nonabrasive is better. If extra cleaning power is required, I would prefer to use the nonscratching SOS pads rather than the traditional steel wool ones. This is because steel wool is notorious for leaving tiny scratches on surfaces, which makes them prone to rust, less shiny, and will shorten their lifespan. Brillo pads should be avoided for the same reason.