How to Clean & Polish Aluminum

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When it comes down to how to polish aluminum or how to clean aluminum surfaces in your house, there's nothing quite like a little elbow grease combined with natural cleaners like lemon juice or vinegar. Make sure not to use abrasive cleaners on aluminum, and use scrubbing pads with only the greatest of care as aluminum scratches very easily.

Things You'll Need

  • Dish soap
  • Clean, dry towel
  • Lemon juice or vinegar
  • Cotton washcloth
  • Fine grade steel wool or bronze scrubbing pad
  • Mild silver polish or silver cleaning cloth
  • Wash the aluminum surface thoroughly with hot water and dish soap. Wipe it dry with a clean, dry towel.

  • Mix a solution of two tbsps. lemon juice or vinegar to each quart of water. If you're cleaning a pot or pan, make enough of the solution to fill the pot or pan. Then bring it to a boil on the stove, and let it boil for 10 minutes. If you're cleaning an appliance or other aluminum surface, mix the solution in a bowl, wipe the surface down with the solution and let it sit for 15 minutes.

  • Rinse with warm water, and then scrub immediately with a cotton washcloth if you're cleaning pots and pans, or scrub before rinsing if you're working on other aluminum surfaces. Then rinse once more, towel dry, and repeat if necessary.

  • Polish exterior soil on aluminum pots away or remove stubborn soil from other aluminum surfaces with a fine-grade steel wool or bronze scrubbing pad. Scrub very gently in a back and forth motion, rather than circular, to avoid scratching the aluminum.

  • Get a completely clean aluminum surface, and shine it up at the same time by applying a mild silver polish. Use a silver cleaning cloth that has been impregnated with a polishing compound commonly available at jewelry shops; just rub any soil away, switching to clean areas of the cloth periodically.

Tips & Warnings

  • You may want to wear rubber gloves when cleaning aluminum pots and pans ow when you clean or polish other aluminum surfaces; this will help keep you from smelling like vinegar and will protect your skin from the scrubbing steel wool. If you absolutely can't get your aluminum surface clean and polished with the steps above, try using a product for cleaning aluminum automotive wheels. Obviously don't use this sort of product for cleaning aluminum pots, pans or other food surfaces.
  • Never use vinegar in conjunction with bleach; the combination produces very dangerous toxic gases.

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