How to Clean Aluminum

Aluminum has a natural luster and beauty. Through anodizing and painting it can be given different looks. However, without regular cleanings, aluminum surfaces will lose their luster and become spoiled. The cleaning process for aluminum depends largely on the product you are trying to clean.

Cleaning Aluminum Cookware

What You Will Need:

  • Cream of tartar
  • Lemon juice
  • Vinegar
  • Water
  • Steel wool soap pad
  • Baking Soda
  • Rubber gloves

The Cleaning Process:

  1. Wash aluminum pan to remove any dirt and dry.
  2. Mix 1 tablespoon cream of tartar, vinegar or lemon juice with one quart of water. Mix enough of this solution to fill the discolored pan.
  3. Place on the stove over medium heat until the water comes to a simmer.
  4. If you have any aluminum serving utensils, place those in the pan as well.
  5. Boil for 10 minutes or until the discoloration is gone.
  6. When the discoloration is gone and the pan has cooled, wear rubber gloves and scrub the pan with the steel wool pad.
  7. Rub the steel wool very gently in a back and forth motion. Avoid using a circular motion as this can cause an uneven look.
  8. Also, be cautious not to scrub too hard with the steel wool as this can scratch the aluminum.
  9. To clean the outside of the pans, apply a mile, nonabrasive cleaner or silver polish.

Cleaning Aluminum Sinks

What You Will Need:

The Cleaning Process:

  1. Wash away surface dirt and grime with a mild dish detergent and rinse away.
  2. Sprinkle the entire sink with borax.
  3. Moisten the soft cloth with water and use it to rub away any remaining dirt.
  4. Rinse thoroughly with clean water.

Cleaning Outdoor Aluminum Surfaces

What You Will Need:

  • Mild detergent
  • Bucket
  • Warm water
  • Solvents for special stains/build-up
  • Clean soft towels
  • Rubber gloves
  • Water hose (optional)

The Cleaning Process:

  1. Choose a day when the temperature is neither too warm nor too cold to clean aluminum outside. If the aluminum is too hot to touch or the temperature is below fifty degrees, try again another day.
  2. Fill a bucket with warm water and add a mild detergent.
  3. Use the clean cloth to wipe down the aluminum and remove dirt and debris.
  4. Rinse thoroughly with clean water. A hose is especially helpful for this if you are cleaning rain spouting, siding, etc.
  5. For harder to remove substances such as tar, you will need to find a special solvent to remove. These are available at most hardware and home improvement stores.
  6. Test a small area first with the solvent to be sure it does not damage the aluminum or remove any paint that may be on the aluminum.
  7. When substance is removed, wash with mild detergent again to remove all solvent.
  8. Rinse thoroughly and dry with a clean cloth.

Additional Tips and Advice

  • If you are hesitant to use steel wool soap pads, try baking soda or ground up lemon peel to remove the built up dirt.
  • Try removing stains with whitening toothpaste that contains baking soda and peroxide. Just apply it with a dry paper towel and rub in circular motions until it gone.
  • The product Bar Keeper’s Friend has been found to be effective for cleaning aluminum sinks.
  • Borax can also be used to clean cooking surfaces, but be sure to rinse them thoroughly before using.
  • To restore shine to aluminum pots, boil for a couple of minute with apple peels.


  1. Cindy says:

    I have a set of Bug Makers by Mattel from 1966. They have a coat of white on them and I don’t want to destroy them. Please help me save these pieces. Thank you

  2. Errol says:

    I want to know how to clean aluminum? I have some stage equipment of aluminum that I would like to bring back to its former glory with the silver shine, and maybe more polished.

  3. Ray says:

    I have a vintage reel-to-reel deck SONY TC 880-2 (top of the line in 1980), but unfortunately, the aluminum face looks kind of dirty and has some dark spots. So my question is: what treatment do I have to use to make this aluminum face plate shine like a brand new one?
    I will much appreciated your help to save a very nice and expensive high-end piece.
    Best regards,

  4. Carolyn says:

    I have an aluminum communion set (drink server/lid and bread server/lid). I would like to know how to restore the shine to these pieces.

  5. Robyn says:

    Hi, I have a problem with discoloration marks on my two-year-old aluminium sink.
    I have tried metal cleaners, bicarb soda and Jif, and still cannot remove the patches of discoloration.
    Can you please suggest what else I could try to bring back an even shine to my sink?
    Thank you,

  6. Melanie says:

    Try using cream of tartar. Mix it with a bit of water to make a paste and use a soft cloth to rub the cream of tartar on the aluminum.
    Source: – How to Clean and Polish Aluminum

    It is also important to know that tartar sauce is not the same thing as cream of tartar. Tartar sauce is a condiment often served with fish. Cream of tartar is a dry powder of ground tartaric acid.
    Source: KitchenSavy

  7. Marchita says:

    I have an aluminum pan that is very discolored on the inside. I have used several things and I cannot get it clean. It is very dark on the inside and I would like some tips on cleaning it; it is my favorite pan. What else can I do?

  8. Anjum says:

    Thank you very much.

  9. Lloyd says:

    I have white aluminium surround on my double glazed windows which I cannot clean. Can you suggest a cleaner for this undertaking?

  10. Bertie says:

    Dear sir, I have a aluminium grain trailer that is 14 feet long and 8 feet wide. The floor is very coarse; how can I clean it? Kind regards.

  11. Coquiss says:

    I’m trying to clean and shine up some can tabs. I’ve tried with vinegar, baking soda, even with bleach, and nothing. How can I do it; please help me. Thanks.

  12. Rosario says:

    I want to clean/shine the outside of an aluminum Bialetti espresso stovetop. What should I use and how should I do it?
    Thanks, Rosario

  13. Melanie says:

    This article can help: How to Clean and Polish Aluminum.

  14. Titus says:

    How to clean black flecks on aluminium after welding? Thanks.

  15. John says:

    I have a 1921 Waters-Genter 4-slice commercial toaster that is dirtier than two previous ones I’ve cleaned in my media cabinet (using glass beads). I’ve tried (on interior surfaces) using alcohol and/or acetone to loosen the grime but it doesn’t work very well. If I want to blast away forever, I can get it pretty clean, but I’m not satisfied with the results. Is there a good pre-soak method, perchance?


  16. Jean says:

    Hi. At our work premises, we have some stairs that have an aluminium strip on each step. Do you have any idea as to how I can clean them? I have tried everything possible. We had some sticky film on them as building work was going on; when I removed this film, it’s left it sticky. I have tried sticky stuff remover; it wipes off, but just dries back and looks awful. Just wondered if you could give me some advise. Thank you, Jean

  17. Melanie says:

    There are a lot of products that can be helpful for removing adhesive residue. Some good ones to try are vegetable oil (or any oil that you have – baby oil, olive oil, etc.) or rubbing alcohol. WD-40 is also very oily and works well on sticky residue. Just make sure you clean the oil off very well afterwards since it’s on a step; use a little dish liquid – that works great for cutting through oil. Also, oil and rubbing alcohol should be safe for aluminum, but it’s best to always test a product in a small, hidden spot on something first to ensure that it’s safe. It may take several treatments to remove the adhesive entirely.
    Source: – How to Clean The Stuff Left by a Peeled Off Label

  18. Gary says:

    I have an aluminum trailer with 3″ radius roof caps that run the full length, front to back. They are covered in black streaks. I have tried all cleaners and Clorox with little effect. Finally took a soft sanding block and it works 90%, but it takes forever. What about muriatic acid or another stronger chemical?

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