How to Clean Aluminum
The methods for cleaning aluminum are as varied as the products that are made from it. Just as the metal itself varies from centuries old formulas to modern alloys, so do the methods of cleaning aluminum vary. Which cleaning process works the best largely depends on what type of aluminum you are cleaning.
Common Homemade Cleaners
One popular cleaning solution commonly used calls for cream of tartar, while another one calls for vinegar. Yet another homemade cleaner requires using borax. Other experts say to use lemon juice, baking soda, steel wool, or special solvents to clean aluminum. Still others will tell you to use ground up lemon or apple peels, or whitening toothpaste that contains baking soda and peroxide.
All these homemade cleaners do require using rubber gloves. They also all agree it takes 1-2 tablespoons of cream of tartar, vinegar, or lemon juice per quart of water used, and that the solution should be brought to a boil and then simmered. However, one recipe required using equal parts of white vinegar and water for removing lime from a coffeepot, and the boiling time depended on how heavy the lime deposits were.
The basic instructions for cleaning aluminum cookware is simply to fill it with hot water, add one of the aforementioned ingredients (except Borax, toothpaste, and special solvents), bring it to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes. Once the solution has cooled down, gently scrub the pan with steel wool, then rinse well, and dry it thoroughly.
For sinks, it's just a matter of cleaning the sink with a mild dish detergent, then after you have rinsed the sink out, sprinkle it with borax. Use a moistened soft cloth to wipe up the borax, and then rinse the sink thoroughly, drying it with another soft cloth.
The instructions for cleaning outdoor aluminum surfaces are basically the same as for cleaning a sink. First you clean the surface using a clean, soft cloth with a mild detergent and warm water, and then rinse it off completely. Afterwards, you use a special solvent designed to remove that particular type of grime and once again rinse it thoroughly. Then you dry it with a clean, soft cloth.