Aw – the question of how to clean aluminum. Did you know that aluminum is actually the most abundant metal in the Earth’s crust? It has a natural beauty and luster that many other metals lack. Some people prefer to paint it while others like the appearance gained from anodizing aluminum.
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Unfortunately, it doesn’t take long for this metal to lose its luster. Cleaning plays a major role in how long it will remain beautiful, so if you get this part right, then you should have beautiful aluminum for many years to come!
One of the greatest benefits of aluminum is that it’s very durable. The problem is that it fades and becomes scratched over time. Regular cleaning with the correct technique will help you to maintain your aluminum’s beautiful appearance.
Basic Polishing and Cleaning
First, use a damp sponge to wipe down the entire surface of the metal. This process will remove general surface dirt. However, it won’t get rid of scratches or stains. When you’re finished, make sure to dry the aluminum with a towel, which helps to prevent water spotting.
Next, spray the aluminum using a high pressure rinse. You can use the spray nozzle on a hose or a pressure washer. The pressure washer will provide you with the greatest amount of power, but both methods will suffice.
The next step consists of applying a solution of two drops dishwasher detergent and one cup water. Just apply the soapy solution using an abrasive sponge and be sure to scrub the aluminum very well.
If you’re dealing with anodized aluminum, it will need an abrasive touch using a gentle cleaning solution. Unfortunately, a lot of different cleaning solutions will negatively react with the anodized aluminum.
When you’re finished with the last step, rinse the aluminum with clean water and dry it using a towel. If this entire process doesn’t adequately clean the metal, then there is a stronger technique that you can use.
How to De-anodize Your Aluminum
If the last section didn’t work for cleaning the metal, then you might need to de-anodize your metal. To do this, wear some rubber goggles and gloves. Grab a shallow pan and fill it with water and one tablespoon of drain cleaner per gallon of water.
The reason why you need to use drain cleaner is because it contains a chemical called sodium hydroxide, which effectively removes the effects of the anodizing.
By doing this, you’re able to obtain a much deeper clean. It also significantly brightens the aluminum. What you need to do is soak the aluminum in the pan of water and drain cleaner.
Every couple of minutes make sure to move the pan around, which will expose the entire surface area to the solution. It shouldn’t take more than a few minutes for each side of the pan to completely de-anodize.
When you see an even, smooth color across the surface of the metal, you’re finished. If you don’t have a pan to soak the metal in, you can always spray the solution onto the metal and scrub it until it’s de-anodized.
After you’re finished, remove the metal, rinse it with clean water and dry it.
How to Polish Your Aluminum
There are many reasons why you might want to polish your aluminum. Fortunately, the process is quite easy and straightforward.
First, you’ll need to sand the surface of the metal with 800-grit sandpaper. Sand the surface until it’s smooth. You can use a sanding block and sand it by hand. However, you might prefer to use an electric sander.
Next, you will need to use a buffing pad. Move the buffing pad in circular motions after you’ve attached it to your buffing machine. Run it across the entire surface of the aluminum. Use a soft cloth to wipe the surface when you’re finished.
For optimal results, you’ll want to apply a commercial-grade aluminum polish. However, you can also use anodized aluminum polish. Just squeeze a dab of the polish onto a cloth and use circular motions to rub it into the metal.
If you had to de-anodize your aluminum to give it a deep clean, you’ll want to use a regular aluminum polish; not one that is meant for anodized metal.