How To Clean Aluminum Cookware?

Aluminum cookware is a staple in most kitchens. I remember my mom cooking with aluminum pots and pans when I was younger.

Still, now they seem to be slowly disappearing from the market.  I wonder if this has anything to do with the health concerns that have been raised about aluminum over time.

So, it will last for years to come! Anyway, not all hope is lost because you can still find good quality aluminum cookware at some of your favorite stores. Keep reading for some great tips on how to clean aluminum cookware.

For those looking for a quick and easy way to clean their aluminum cookware, this is the post for you. The steps outlined below are all-natural and will not harm your cookware in any way.

  1. Fill a pot with water as high as it can go on the stovetop
  2. Put butter or margarine (or both!) inside the pot 
  3. Place lid on top of the pot
  4. Turn stove to medium-high heat
  5. Bring water to boil
  6. Boil until foam/foaminess has cleared
  7. Remove from stove
  8. Let stand until cool
  9. Wash with soap
  10. Rinse
  11. Dry off with a towel
  12. Repeat process if necessary

How to clean aluminum cookware?

Cleaning aluminum pots & pans is a sensitive topic among aluminum lovers. It is not that they don’t want to clean their cookware.

Still, the confusion on how to clean aluminum pots and pans without exposing themselves to hazardous chemicals commonly found in most commercial cleaning products causes them some concern.

This article will help you to clean aluminum pots and pans without the use of toxic cleaning products.

Daily treatments

Avoid cooking oily foods, and wait until you’ve finished gardening or baking to clean dirty pots immediately. The residue will make the process more difficult.

Always remember to fill the sink with water beforehand, which you hope not to use for drinking, to avoid fluoride exposure from tap water.

Don’t use dish soap. Use Dawn instead because dish soap can leave a rainbow-ish corrugated film on the surface of aluminum pans over time caused by its natural emulsifying agents that react with aluminum oxide particles.

Only clean up what you used for food production at any given time and try not to re-clean old debris for twenty minutes.

Hand wash the aluminum cookware in soapy water

Do you know that most types of cookware are considered to be dishwasher safe? You can place them in your dishwasher, put soap in the designated section and wash them away.

However, when cleaning aluminum pots & pans – it’s best to use soap and not detergent-based cleaners for a few reasons.

First, using soap instead of a dishwasher cleaner removes any residue left from the food, which may have soaked into cast iron pots or other metal surfaces while it cooked on the stovetop.

Secondly, there is less risk of scratching if you hand clean your cookware with an abrasive material like steel wool or sponge rather than beating up the surface with a harsh wheel brush inside a super-hot and water environment.

Cleaning aluminum pots and pans with vinegar

On a day-to-day basis, regular use of water and dish soap will help! It’s essential to avoid cooking acidic dishes in aluminum because there is an increased chance that the acid will break down the metal.

That’s why many cookware sets come with an included nonstick pan or two, and pans like these can be used for making omelets and fried eggs.

With time washing alone may not clean your aluminum pots as well as you would like. If so, here are some additional steps you might try!

One way is to fill the pot or pan with vinegar and bring it to a boil. Then, let it cool and wash as usual.

Another method is to soak the aluminum in vinegar overnight. Just make sure to rinse well before using.

cleaning aluminum pots and pans with vinegar

Removing stains with vinegar

One meaningful way to care for your cookware is by using the right cleaning products. A particular acid in tomato sauce will pit and corrode aluminum on contact, so it’s essential to use the appropriate cleaner- not just any old soap will do!

Vinegar combines with dirt build-up to form a chemical reaction. This reaction reduces brown stains on pots and pans without harming the metal itself.

If you’re using vinegar as a cleaner for your aluminum pots or pans, let them soak overnight if there are stubborn stains. Just make sure not to mix it with an acidic additive (such as lemon juice).

Baking soda and peroxide

You can clean aluminum pots and pans with baking soda and peroxide. First, mix a paste of baking soda and water. Apply the paste to the pot or pan and let it sit for a few minutes.

Then, use a wet sponge to scrub the pan and rinse it clean.

You can also use peroxide to clean aluminum pots and pans. Just pour peroxide onto the pan and let it sit for a few minutes. Then, scrub the pan with a wet sponge and rinse it clean.

Cleaning stubborn stains

One of the best, easiest ways we know to get those stubborn stains out is to use a little dishwashing detergent and some boiling water. Place your cup in the pot and fill it up with enough warm water so that it will not boil over.

Fill the pot with a tiny amount of your favorite dishwashing soap and let it stand for 10-15 minutes or until foaming bubbles rise to the top.

After 10-15 minutes, take out your aluminum pan without any soap on it to rinse off all remaining surface residue. Ta-da! Like new!

Using a dryer sheet to clean aluminum pots

Aluminum pots are a great way to cook food evenly, but they can be difficult to clean. Dryer sheets can help make the job a little easier.

Just crumple up the sheet and use it to scrub the pot clean. The sheet will also help to remove any leftover food or grease.

Remove stains with boiling water and salt

It’s true, and there are a few people who’ve been too scared to clean their pots for years because they thought the aluminum was poisoning them.

The real problem is that many people don’t know how to properly care for aluminum cookware, which leaves you with discolored pots or pans and some potentially dangerous bacteria.

Luckily, cooking all of your food doesn’t mean giving up on your beautiful pots and pans. Keep them in good condition by following these easy steps:

  • Boil salt in water until it dissolves entirely (don’t worry about the saltiness; this is just an opportunity for water to clean).
  • Pour the solution into the dirty pot or pan and scrub off those stubborn old stains out right away after a while.

Cleaning pans with DIY cleaning solution

A less expensive way is a vinegar and baking soda solution. 1 tablespoon baking soda, half cup of water, and 4 cups of vinegar in a spray bottle for the best results.

It is important to rinse with hot water afterward because the vinegar will leave behind a coating that could be sticky or cause food to stick.

The type of aluminum pot does not matter for this method because it only acts as an acid wash on dirty pots and pans. So simple!

Clean your pots and pans by adding baking soda mixed with boiling water before cleaning them with warm soapy water, followed by making sure they are completely dried before putting them away for storage (or back in their place in the oven).

Using bar keepers friend

When cleaning aluminum pots and pans, one of the best ways is to use Bar Keepers Friend. Yes, you can use some coarse salt sometimes or a bit of vinegar but use this at your own risk.

Why? Because both of these solutions have harmful side effects, including removing the protective anodized layer from your pans.

Suppose those harmful ingredients come in contact with hot oil/water. In that case, they could dissolve the finish on them, permanently ruining their appearance.

Use Bar Keepers Friend because it’ll remove grease, dirt, and food stains without damage while providing long-lasting surface protection that resists scouring and sticking.

bar keepers friend

How to clean vintage aluminum cookware?

Just follow these steps:

  1. Mix dishwashing soap and cooking oil in a deep pot or sink.
  2. Place the aluminum cookware in the solution and let it soak for about 1-3 hours, depending on how dirty it is, to begin with
  3. After soaking, scrub off any remaining dirt or stains using steel wool scouring pads without scratching the surface of your beautiful vintage cookware because scratches can accumulate to become a damaged area that’s easier for food particles to get scattered around, making them harder to clean in the long run (I know this from personal experience).
  4. Rinse well with fresh water and place outdoors in a sunny spot until dry (or follow manufacturer instructions if applicable).

How to clean hard-anodized aluminum cookware?

Anodize cleaning is a slightly different process from other cookware. The steps for the general process are as follows:

  1. Fill a sink with cold water and enough non-bleach detergent to make the water sudsy
  2. Place dirty, wet pots in the sink of soapy water
  3. Let pots soak for 5 minutes and then scrub any stains or cooked-on food off with a metal scrubber–use gloves if needed to protect hands from irritation and hand, wrist, and arm pain associated with repetitive motion strain (some people are sensitive)
  4. Rinse pot under hot running tap water until all soap is gone
  5. Dry the pot by using a kitchen towel or dishcloth

How to clean cast aluminum cookware?

Many people believe that the best way to clean your cast cookware is to bring it to a boil using water and sometimes dish soap. Others feel that this will wear out the cookware.

To avoid damaging your pans, many suggest adding a tablespoon of kosher salt when boiling water and detergent are added. This dissolves all the gunk off of your pan while not harming its surface or structural integrity in any way.

Just make sure you thoroughly dry it before storing it to avoid rust problems later on down the line!

Some people even suggest using coarse sea salt mixed with olive oil for real stubborn stains (and some say just dunking your pots after use into a tub with warm, soapy water also works).

There is a lot of information on the internet about how to clean cast aluminum cookware. And, there are many different opinions.

My personal experience has been that using regular soap and water works well to clean off all food substances.

Regular dishwasher detergent (made for plastic, glass, stainless steel) or even dishwashing liquid works just as well to clean the cookware but cannot be used with an abrasive scrubber like a Brillo pad or scouring sponge.

cleaning cast aluminum cookware

How to clean brushed aluminum cookware?

It doesn’t matter if you use soap, salt, and water or vinegar and water. All methods are equally effective.

  • At a minimum, wipe the cookware with a damp cloth or sponge. You don’t want to scrub since this can leave scratches in the coating, making it more challenging to clean it next time.
  • Get something abrasive like baking soda and coarse salt and mix them on your countertop.
  • When you feel like they’ve combined well enough, grab some of the mixtures in your hands
  • And rub them all over your pan until you’ve scrubbed off any stuck-on bits of grease or build-up without putting too many scratches into the coating.
  • Rinse off quickly under running water before turning on the dishwasher so that it’s not put through an additional drying cycle.

How to clean hammered aluminum cookware?

Hobbyists in the know recommend cleaning hammered aluminum cookware as you would any other cookware. That is, with soap and water.

A commercial degreaser may also be used if desired; we recommend “Dawn” dish soap or dish detergent for this purpose.

  • Step 1: Fill pot or pan two-thirds full with hot water and place on stovetop or range at maximum heat setting. Bring to a rolling boil.
  • Step 2: Add one tablespoon of Dawn dish detergent and scrub thoroughly using a coarse steel wool pad to loosen stubborn dirt stains.
  • Step 3: Rinse off all soap residue with lots of running water, then hold the object by its handles over a towel, allow it to drip for a few seconds before placing it.

How to clean oxidized aluminum cookware?

Remove the lid and give it a light rub with the bottom of your dishcloth. Wipe down the inside as well.

Please place it in a dishwasher or use baking soda or peroxide spray some water onto the aluminum surface before pouring in some baking soda (about three tablespoons).

Then, add about 5 drops of bleach to avoid mold growth. Let it sit for 30 minutes, dry completely, and then restore by coating with cooking oil.

If you have time, carefully remove any rusting using a metal scrubber before cleaning off the dirt accumulated on top of this oxidized layer.

You will need to rinse and dry thoroughly after removing stains to prevent future rust from accumulating on top of these cleaned areas.

How to clean tarnished aluminum cookware?

  • Fill the pot with water and bring it to a boil. Remove from heat, add one teaspoon of salt, and then put on your oven mitts (be careful!)
  • Dump the saltwater mixture into the dirty aluminum pot. Continue to use your oven mitts because it will get very hot!  
  • Return the aluminum pot to the stovetop and turn on medium/low heat just enough to not boil. Be patient; it couldn’t be easier! 
  • Let cook for 15 minutes or more, depending on how bad it was before starting this process. Every time you check out, see if it is looking better; wash it carefully under cold water fill until any rusty areas are clean
  • Dry out any excess moisture leftover from the cleaning process with a paper towel or something else absorbent

What is aluminum cookware?

Aluminum cookware is a type of cookware made from aluminum and coated with a non-stick material. The main advantages of aluminum cookware are that it can tolerate high temperatures and disperses heat well.

The disadvantages of aluminum cookware are that it is easily reactive to acidic foods, such as tomatoes and citrus, tarnishes, and scratches.

Aluminum cookware for induction

Kenmore Arlington Nonstick Ceramic Coated Forged 12-Piece Aluminum Induction Cookware

Aluminum cookware on glass top stove

Circulon Symmetry 10-Piece Hard Anodized Aluminum Nonstick Cookware Set

Aluminum cookware with a titanium-infused

T-fal Titanium Advanced Nonstick Thermo-Spot Heat Indicator Dishwasher Safe 12-Piece Cookware Set

Final Words

The bottom line is that there are many different ways to clean aluminum cookware. Every individual has their preference, and what works for one may not work for another.

It’s essential to experiment with these methods so you can find the best way to maintain your cookware while still maintaining its high-quality finish.

However, we know for sure that scrubbing away at it vigorously will do nothing but damage your pots!

We hope that this has been helpful in your efforts to get back into the kitchen and cook up a storm. So now you know how to clean aluminum cookware, as well as other helpful tips and tricks.

You are encouraged to leave comments with your favorite methods for cleaning the material.

Read Next: How To Season Non Stick Cookware?


  • How do you remove black stains from aluminum pans?

    To remove black stains from aluminum pans, you can rub them with a lemon slice.

  • How do you make aluminum pans shiny again?

    The first step is to remove any food that remains on the pan. After that, clean the pan with hot soapy water, rinse and dry.

    Apply the aluminum polish with a soft cloth and rub in a circular motion.

  • How do you remove oxidation from aluminum cookware?

    The most common method for removing oxidation is to use a commercial cleaner.

    If you have aluminum cookware with light to mild oxidation, try using a commercial cleaner and then polish it with a cream.

  • Does vinegar clean aluminum?

    Vinegar is a natural acid that can clean aluminum. It can have a positive effect on aluminum that has become tarnished.

  • How do you clean burnt aluminum pans?

    You can clean burnt aluminum pans with a baking soda paste. Make a paste of baking soda and water, and rub it onto the burnt areas of the pan.

    Let the paste sit for a few minutes, then rinse it off and dry the pan.

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Writer & Product Reviewer
Steve Gillam
Steve L. Gillam loves cooking and teaching people how to cook. He is passionate about using local, organic ingredients in his recipes because he believes that seasonal food should be a part of everyone's diet. Steve has been writing professionally for over a decade and has published more than 100 articles on cooking with seasonal ingredients.

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