Aluminum is a metal we encounter daily in everyday products such as utensils, cookware, aluminum foil, and even car parts. Maintaining its mirror-like finish can be difficult through daily use. Still, this article lists several methods to clean aluminum and bring back its original shine, including making a DIY aluminum polish.
Aluminum oxide, which forms on aluminum when exposed to oxygen, protects the aluminum from oxidizing and will reform if scratched. Still, exposure to the elements, as well as chemicals and minerals, can cause aluminum to lose its shine over time.
While numerous products are on the market to aid in cleaning and polishing aluminum, these products may not be worth the price point if you do not foresee yourself polishing your silver often.
Additionally, the chemicals found in polish may be harmful to your household if inhaled and may damage other surfaces in your home if not used with care.
- Simple Homemade Aluminum Polish
- How to Maintain the Appearance of Your Polished Aluminum
- Concerns When Trying to Polish Aluminum
Simple Homemade Aluminum Polish
To avoid introducing unnecessary chemical polishes into your home, combine everyday household items. These ingredients, most of which may be in your kitchen, create a homemade aluminum polish that won’t damage your aluminum or break the bank.
It can be a little challenging to make aluminum shine without polishing it but a good cleaning with soap and water helps.
Homemade Aluminum Wheel Polish
A mixture of vinegar and water creates a simple homemade aluminum wheel polish and is a great home remedy to remove brake dust from wheels and restore shine to your wheels, too.
Pour white vinegar and water in equal parts into a spray bottle and apply directly to the aluminum rims. For the best way to polish aluminum wheels with this method, wipe the mixture away from the surface with a soft cloth. For extra shine, polish using steel wool.
DIY Aluminum Polish Compound
Lemon juice and baking soda are effective for cleaning and polishing aluminum back to its original shine. A bit of elbow grease, lemon juice, and baking soda removes scratches and restores the appearance of your aluminum. It can also remove oxidation from aluminum.
Add lemon juice and baking soda to a bowl and mix until it forms a paste. Rub the paste onto your aluminum items using a soft cloth. Polish the aluminum surface back to its original shine with a fine grain buffing pad.
Aluminum Utensil Polish with Cream of Tartar
Cream of tartar is an infrequently used baking ingredient that, when added to recipes, creates a chemical reaction with other ingredients.
Being an acidic byproduct created during the wine-making process, cream of tartar’s chemical reactions help with polishing and make it a great homemade aluminum cleaner.
Fill a cup or bowl with hot water and mix in the cream of tartar until it forms a paste. Rub this paste onto your aluminum utensils or aluminum cookware and polish with a sponge. To clear any residue from your aluminum, wipe clean with a soft cloth.
Caring for Aluminum with Mineral Spirits
Mineral spirits are a handy solvent used from surface prep to cleaning to metal polish. When used with aluminum, it removes any grease or oil stains in the process of polishing.
While using rubber gloves for smaller aluminum parts, submerge them in a bucket of mineral spirits to loosen grease and scrub with a brush for more hands-on removal.
If you work with larger aluminum pieces on cars or outdoor furniture, soak a rag in the mineral spirits and use it directly on your aluminum surfaces. When using as a DIY aluminum trailer cleaner, be sure to wipe away all excess with a clean cloth and buff as necessary.
Note: If your skin does come in contact with mineral spirits, quickly wipe the area clean and wash with soap and water to avoid any burning.
Restoring Aluminum Rims to a Mirror Finish
To restore the shine of your aluminum rims, applying a wheel cleaner to clear away any dirt or grime is the first step.
Mineral spirits dissolve build-up from difficult-to-reach places around bolts, but just cleaning your tire rims may not produce the glossy look you’re hoping to get back.
Sanding your rims with a low grit silicon carbide sandpaper is the best place to start depending on the condition of your rims.
With each round of sanding done to your rims, increase the grit of sandpaper used, which means working with a finer abrasive to create a smoother surface finish.
To start, use 200 or 300 grit sandpaper, depending on the condition of your rims. From there, use 400, 800, 1500, and eventually, 3,000 grit for your finishing round to smooth previous sanding efforts.
Note: Wet your rims with a spray bottle filled with water to help avoid any harmful dust caused by the sanding process.
Salt and Lemon as a Natural Aluminum Polish
The acidic nature of lemons and the grit of salt make an effective combination when polishing and cleaning aluminum. As these items may already be on hand or readily available, it is also one of the simplest home remedies for polishing aluminum.
Due to the polishing method, this may not be an effective homemade aluminum wheel polish and may work better for aluminum pots.
Sprinkle salt onto your aluminum surface and apply the cut side of your lemon directly onto the aluminum. Work in circles against the salt.
If you are using a store-bought bottle of lemon juice, squirt several drops onto the salt and work the area in circles using a soft sponge. Rinse well to remove any residue and dry thoroughly with a soft cloth.
Polishing Aluminum at Home
Daily use will wear down the appearance of your aluminum, and if your aluminum is outside, like in the case of car rims, bike frames, or patio furniture, the weather may degrade its appearance over time.
A buffing wheel infused with a buffing compound can help bring the shine back to your aluminum pieces. Following your buffing, be sure to wipe down your aluminum with a microfiber cloth to dry it as any moisture or leftover residue will affect its appearance.
How to Maintain the Appearance of Your Polished Aluminum
Depending on the level of polishing your aluminum needs, it may not be a process you’re looking to repeat very often. One way to avoid constant polishing is to apply a clear coat to your aluminum once you restore shine with your homemade polish.
Applying a clear coat creates less need for upkeep on your aluminum in the long run. Before using a clear coat, make sure you have clean silver by washing your aluminum with dish soap and water to clean away grease or oil.
Concerns When Trying to Polish Aluminum
While the idea of baking soda on your aluminum may sound dubious due to its reputation of causing aluminum oxide, baking soda is safe to use with aluminum.
It’s important to remember that once you’re done cleaning or polishing with it, thoroughly rinse aluminum to rid the aluminum of remaining residue.
Steel wool, or any abrasive scrubber, is also something you may feel wary about using on your aluminum. When using any product that may scratch your aluminum, we recommend using it with light pressure and, in the case of steel wool, only using fine grain wool to polish.
We hope that this article helps you bring your aluminum back to its original shine using the homemade methods we’ve outlined above.
Whether you’re looking to polish spoons or the wheels of your car, knowing where to start can be difficult, so we hope this information proves useful.
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