How To Clean Aluminum - Including Both Aluminum Pots And Aluminum Trim

Ever wonder how to clean aluminum that can be found throughout your house?

how to clean aluminum
Photo courtesy of Cornell University Library
Aluminum is found all over your home, from pots and pans, to the trim on your stove to frames around mirrors.

In fact, many times people assume trim on objects is chrome when, in fact, it is aluminum.

How To Clean Aluminum Trim

Generally, alumninum items around your home just need a good periodic dusting with a soft, clean cloth, to keep clean and shiny.

However, trim on stoves or the frame around a bathroom mirror can get dirty with grease and grime, and will need a more thorough cleaning than just a cloth can do by itself.

While you need something strong enough to get the job done, you need to remember that aluminum is easily harmed by several common household products.

Therefore, you need to make sure you take care with how you clean aluminum to avoid damage.

What Not To Clean Aluminum With

  • Ammonia - because it can mottle and pit the surface (therefore you need to be careful when washing mirrors with a window cleaning recipe containing ammonia)
  • Strong alkalis - using these will cause discoloration
  • Chlorine bleach - will corrode and discolor aluminum
  • Scouring or abrasive products - because aluminum scratches easily

Clean Aluminum With Mild Dishwashing Liquid

To remove both oil and grease you should clean aluminum with a solution of water and mild dishwashing liquid.

How To Clean Aluminum Pots

The same rules of what not to clean aluminum trim with above also apply to aluminum pots.

In addition, automatic dishwasher detergent is strongly alkaline, and therefore it can discolor aluminum finishes. Therefore, you should always wash aluminum pots and pans by hand.

Fortunately, one of the best ways to clean aluminum pots is to use mild dishwashing liquid.

What To Do When You Have Burned Or Stuck On Food On Your Aluminum Pots And Pans

It is tempting to just use a scouring pad or other abrasives to quickly clean off aluminum pots when they have burned or stuck on food, but remember that aluminum scratches easily.

In addition, if you have a pan with nonstick coating such scouring will remove it.

Therefore, I do not recommend using scouring pads, at least not as a first resort.

Instead, I recommend that you first soak pot or pan with the burned or stuck on food, if necessary in very hot water, to try to more gently loosen the gunk, and then wipe it away.

If your aluminum pots and pans become discolored you can use the aluminum pot cleaner recipe listed below to remove this discoloration.

Homemade Aluminum Pot Cleaner Recipe


  • Cream of tartar
  • White vinegar (can use lemon juice as an alternative)


1. Fill your aluminum pot with water. For every quart added add 2 tablespoons of cream of tartar and 1/2 cup of vinegar (or lemon juice).

2. Bring the solution to a boil, and then continue boiling for 10 minutes.

3. Carefully pour out the solution, and let the pot cool.

4. Once the aluminum pot is cool enough to handle then wash and dry the pot as usual.

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