How to Clean Aluminum (Incredibly Helpful Tips!)

We love sharing all the tips you didn’t know you needed for cleaning various areas and things around your house. One of the most common questions we get asked all the time is, “How Do I Clean Aluminum”? That’s a great question and we have a few ways to answer it for you.

What Is Aluminum

Aluminum is one of the most versatile of all metals, and as a result, is all around us. It’s often on plain view around businesses and at homes. Common things to clean in the house that may be aluminum are the aluminum window frames, aluminum cookware (like aluminum pots and aluminum pans), aluminum sink, and some outdoor furniture.

Where Can I Find Aluminum Around My House To Clean?

Aluminum is an ideal material for window frames and door frames, and the majority of greenhouses are framed with this metal.

As well as its versatility there is a natural beauty associated with aluminum, but this luster and beauty can quickly become tarnished with dirt and oxidization. To keep its beauty, it is necessary to clean aluminum regularly and appropriately.

Gardeners will quite often clean the glass panes in their greenhouses, and yet will totally ignore the aluminum frames, the same goes for homeowners and window frames.

rear view of woman with yellow gloves in kitchen doing housework

Is Cleaning Aluminum Hard Or Easy?

Cleaning aluminum though is a relatively easy process, and if the cleaning is regularly undertaken then it requires nothing more than warm water. The presence of more stubborn dirt will mean that a dish detergent or mild soap will have to be added to the water to get a clean aluminum frame.

What Do I Use To Clean Aluminum?

The degree to which the aluminum piece or aluminum items is dirty does alter the type of cleaning material required, and there is a scale of cleaners where water is the least harsh, and abrasive cleaners are the harshest.

Slightly harsher than soap and water are the solvent cleaners that are widely available from many stores. The best way to clean is with a cleaner and a soft cloth. But we do realize sometimes you need some abrasive pads or a scrub brush with soft bristles.

Some household cleaners you may consider are:

  • plain hot water
  • soap and water mixture
  • white vinegar
  • baking soda (as long as your rinse right after to avoid oxidization)
  • salt and lemon
  • a mix of any of the above cleaners
natural cleaners and abrasive cleaners.

There are also non-etching cleaners, chemical cleaners that clean without etching into the surface of the aluminum, and wax polishes that will successfully clean aluminum.

There are a number of abrasive waxes and abrasive cleaners available to buy, but as the name suggests they work through friction and rubbing and are considered to be the harshest methods of cleaning aluminum.

Thus these cleaners are only really used on aluminum that has been left to its own devices for a number of years. It is important to remember as well, that some aluminum frames do have a grain, and thus abrasives need to be used with the grain rather than against it.

How To Clean Aluminum

Pick your cleaner of choice and use a damp cloth to start cleaning the metal surface.

When cleaners are used it is important that the aluminum is washed down with plain water and then dried with a cloth, preferably a clean one for obvious reasons. Some cleaners if not completely removed could start to react with the aluminum and start the oxidization process (like baking soda).

We recommend cleaning a small area first to see how the aluminum surface reacts.

Eco-friendly natural cleaners. Vinegar, baking soda, salt, lemon and cloth on wooden table. Homemade green cleaning.

How To Clean With Salt and Lemon

If you’re choosing the salt and lemon method, a popular choice to clean with,here’s how it works and what to do. The salt acts as the abrasive element of the cleaning solution and the lemon is the acidic part that will help restore the metal.

To clean with the salted lemon, grab your lemon and cut it in half. Pour some salt into a dish and place the lemon cut side down into the pile of salt.

Let some salt adhere to the lemon juice and then take the salted lemon and rub it on the oxidized areas of the aluminum pan or whatever it is that you’re cleaning. Then take a damp clean cloth and wipe the area clean and dry.

For smaller items, you may need to squirt lemon juice on an old toothbrush and dip it in salt for best results cleaning small things.

How To Clean With White Vinegar

Grab a spray bottle and fill it with one part vinegar to one part clean water to create a cleaning solution. Spray a cleaning cloth with the mixed solution and scrub or wipe down your aluminum object.

Lemons, Baking Soda and Vinegar are all Natural Environmentally Friendly Ways to Clean Your Home.

How To Decide On Aluminum Cleaner

It is very tempting to go for the harshest method of cleaning immediately, especially when you’re cleaning built-up dirt but that shouldn’t always be the first thing your grab.

Remember that aluminum is a relatively soft metal and the use of abrasives could start to wear away at the metal. It is always best to start with the least harsh method of cleaning, i.e. water, and then move up the scale of cleaners until the aluminum is clean. Never start with the harshest.

Start with hot soapy water using a mild dish soap and some paper towels. From there move on to other cleaners as necessary.

If you’re looking to polish aluminum, you should try the vinegar solution spray for the best clean and polishing impact.

The easiest method of cleaning aluminum is with just plain water and a little elbow grease, but for this method to work regular cleaning of aluminum is required. These are important things to keep in mind.

As you can see, we try to go the natural way and try to use a simple method with simple steps and natural cleaners to effectively clean aluminum. But sometimes you need an all-purpose abrasive cleaner to get the job done.

 It’s always a good idea to take proper care of your various aluminum pieces around the house, greenhouse and elsewhere.

Share your favorite aluminum cleaning method below.

Salt and lemon cleaner with text overlay.

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