How To Clean Aluminum Pots and Pans With Items You Already Have In Your Kitchen

Bring the shine back to your aluminum cookware.

a stack of aluminum pots and pans
Photo: Getty Images/ paolomartinezphotography

Aluminum is one of the most popular metals for the kitchen. It's affordable, lightweight, and durable. But like other metals, it can get grimy and discolored with time. The next time you notice built-up grease or burnt-on food in your pots and pans, try this simple method for removing stains and rejuvenating your aluminum cookware.

Dirty Aluminum Pan with white background
Photo by Getty Images.

Here's What You'll Need

  • Water
  • Dish soap
  • Sponge
  • Wooden spoon (optional)
  • 2 tbsp. of cream of tartar, white vinegar, or lemon juice
  • Dish towel
  • Silver Polish (optional)

How to Clean Aluminum Pots and Pans:

1. Wash Dirt or Grease

Allow your pot or pan to cool. Start by washing any existing grease or grime with warm water, dish soap, and a sponge. Use the rough side of a sponge to scrub any burnt food bits. You may also use a wooden spoon to dislodge stubborn food.

2. Make Your Own Cleaning Solution

Using an acidic solution will reduce any discoloration on your pots and pans due to aluminum oxidation (that chalky, white stuff you see on your pans). Fill your pot or pan with water. For each quart of water that you use, add 2 tbsp. of either cream of tartar, white vinegar, or lemon juice. Stir the mixture together.

3. Bring the Mixture to a Boil

Next, bring the mixture to a boil in your pot or pan, and allow it to boil for about 10 to 15 minutes. Turn off the heat and pour out the mixture. Your aluminum should be bright and shiny again!

4. Give it One Final Clean

Use dish soap, warm water, and the rough side of a sponge to remove any remaining discoloration. Don't use steel wool or other abrasive scrubbers, as this may scratch your cookware. Rinse your pot or pan and dry it with a dish towel.

5. Clean the Exterior

Use silver polish to clean any discoloration on the exterior of your pot, and give it one last wash with warm water, dish soap, and a sponge to remove the polish before drying. You should see your reflection in the pan! Hand washing your pot after each use will also help to prevent further buildup.

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