How To Clean Aluminum
Learning how to clean aluminum is fairly straightforward, but the process you'll follow depends partly on what substances need to be removed, and partially on what the item is you plan to clean. The steps in cleaning your aluminum coffee pot, are different than the steps in cleaning the aluminum rims on the wheels of your car, or the aluminum siding of your house. Coffee stains, road grime, and a substance called chalk, a common occurrence on aluminum siding, require different approaches.
Starting with the small stuff, in this case pots, pans, and other kitchen utensils, including the coffee pot:
How To Clean Aluminum Pots And Pans - Over a period of extended use, aluminum cookware tends to become stained, partially from the foods it has come into contact with, and partially from food items having burned while cooking. Small scratches on aluminum pots and pans are also common, and can often be scrubbed or buffed away.
The secret here is cream of tarter. Cleaning aluminum pots and pans is best accomplished by filling the pans with hot water to which cream of tartar has been added, and allowing the item to sit for at least an hour. After the time is up, drain the liquid from the pan, or remove the pan from a larger vessel if you've been soaking the exterior, and apply more cream of tartar to any remaining spots or discolored areas, and rub it in. A cream of tartar paste, vigorously rubbed in, will also work wonders if small scratches are present.
Sometimes the inside surface of a pot or pan can be cleaned by boiling either a cream of tarter solution, a (white) vinegar solution, or boiling a highly acidic food such as tomatoes or rhubarb. In the latter case you can cook dinner while brightening your aluminum pan at the same time. When food has been burned in, you'll have to resort to using detergent, water, and a steel wool pad. Use fine steel wool to avoid scratching the aluminum, and steel wool is not advisable if the surface has been painted, unless you have a very gentle touch. As far as coffee stains are concerned, boiling a water and white vinegar solution, about 50-50, will usually do the trick. You may have to boil longer or repeat the process for very stubborn stains.
How To Clean Aluminum Wheel Rims - Cleaning aluminum wheel rims takes a different approach, if not only due to the fact that the tires are often still attached. In this case you'll need to use a commercial aluminum cleaning solution to remove grime and road tar. Make sure you read the label to ensure you have the proper chemical or you may end up stripping off any protective coating the rims have. Spray the chemical on the rim and let it sit for about 15 minutes. Then wipe the solution off (wearing rubber gloves is recommended), removing any dirt in the process, and hose the rims down.
How To Clean Aluminum Boats - A much larger item is an aluminum boat. Here a solution of tri sodium phosphate (TSP) will usually do the trick. Hose the boat down first, then using plenty of elbow grease, scrub the surface with the TSP solution. The TSP container will usually indicate a recommended strength. Wearing rubber gloves and safety glasses is a good idea when using this chemical. Difficult spots may require letting the area soak in the TSP solution for a bit, but don't allow the solution to dry on the surface. When done with one part of the boat, hose it down and let it dry naturally. Working from the top towards the bottom and scrubbing horizontally is the suggested approach.
How To Clean Aluminum Siding - About as large an item as you'll likely encounter is your house, if it has aluminum siding that is. Again, TSP is the best agent for cleaning those areas where you have to do a little rubbing, whether using a soft bristled brush, or a sponge mop. You'll probably need both. Using a pressure washer will speed up the process, but don't use so much pressure that you dent the siding. If there are areas with built up mildew, a bleach solution (about 20% strength) may be needed. If there is a chalk build-up on your siding, you'll have to rely on a commercial aluminum siding cleaner, together with some elbow grease, as this material can be a little difficult to remove.
With a supply of cream of tartar, white vinegar, and a bottle or two of commercial aluminum cleansers, you should be able to handle anything in aluminum that comes your way.