How to Clean Bare Aluminum

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A naturally occurring oxide film protects bare aluminum from corrosion.
A naturally occurring oxide film protects bare aluminum from corrosion. (Image: Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

Distinguished by its resiliency and enduring strength, aluminum is a lightweight metal used in numerous products. Lawn furniture, siding, roofing and cookware often contain aluminum. Although bare aluminum is durable and corrosion-resistant, it becomes soiled over time. Bare aluminum can accumulate dirt, tree sap and grease, which make it appear drab and unattractive. Since bare aluminum does not contain paint or anodizing layers for protection, it requires regular cleaning to prevent surface contaminants from dulling its bright appearance. Fortunately, you can clean bare aluminum with basic supplies.

Things You'll Need

  • 1 tsp. dish soap
  • Bucket
  • Spoon
  • 2 soft, clean rags
  • Garden hose
  • Mineral spirits

Let the bare aluminum cool completely before cleaning it. Aluminum is ready to clean if you can comfortably rest your hand on it. Do not clean bare aluminum that's cooler than 50 degrees Fahrenheit, however.

Prepare a mild cleaning solution by pouring 1 tsp. of dish soap into a bucket holding 1 gallon of warm water. Thoroughly mix the dish soap into the water with a spoon.

Immerse a soft, clean rag in the soapy water. Gently wipe the bare aluminum surface with the soapy water, detaching soil and grime with each stroke. Rinse the rag regularly with fresh water.

Rinse the bare aluminum with fresh water. Flush the soapy residue completely off the aluminum.

Examine the bare aluminum for stubborn tree sap or motor grease stains. If stubborn stains still mar the aluminum, moisten a fresh rag with mineral spirits. Scrub the stubborn tree sap or grease off the aluminum using the solvent-moistened rag.

Rinse the bare aluminum thoroughly with water. Flush the mineral spirits thoroughly off the aluminum. Let the bare aluminum air-dry completely.

Tips & Warnings

  • Mineral spirits are flammable, so keep sparks and flames away.
  • Spot-test the mineral spirits on the bare aluminum to protect against discoloration.
  • Alkaline cleaning products may discolor bare aluminum.
  • Coarse, abrasive cleaning supplies such as scouring powder or steel wool may scratch bare aluminum, which is a relatively soft metal.

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