How to Fix Aluminum After Dishwasher

Aluminum is a versatile and widely used material found in various household items, including cookware, utensils, and decorative pieces. However, placing aluminum items in the dishwasher can lead to unwanted discoloration, pitting, and corrosion. This detailed guide will walk you through the steps to restore your aluminum items to their former glory.

How to Fix Aluminum After Dishwasher: Comprehensive Guide

To fix aluminum items that have become discolored or tarnished after being washed in the dishwasher, there are a few methods you can try. One common method is to create a paste using equal parts cream of tartar and water, and gently scrub the aluminum surface with this paste using a soft cloth. Rinse thoroughly with water and dry completely.

Another method is to mix equal parts white vinegar and water in a spray bottle, then spray the solution onto the aluminum surface. Let it sit for a few minutes before wiping it off with a clean cloth. This can help remove any lingering stains or discoloration from the dishwasher cycle. It’s important to always hand wash aluminum items if possible to prevent damage from harsh dishwasher detergents and high temperatures.

Understanding Aluminum Corrosion

When aluminum is exposed to the harsh detergents and high temperatures in a dishwasher, it can undergo a chemical reaction that leads to oxidation and corrosion. This often results in a dull, grayish appearance and may even cause pitting on the surface. Understanding the causes behind these changes is crucial for effective restoration.

Step-by-Step Guide to Restoring Aluminum

1. Initial Cleaning and Assessment

Before attempting any restoration process, it is essential to thoroughly clean and assess the condition of your aluminum items.

Materials Needed:

  • Mild dish soap
  • Warm water
  • Soft sponge or cloth


  1. Prepare a Cleaning Solution: Mix a few drops of mild dish soap with warm water in a basin or sink.
  2. Clean the Aluminum Surface: Gently scrub the aluminum items using a soft sponge or cloth. Avoid using abrasive materials that can further scratch or damage the surface.
  3. Rinse Thoroughly: Rinse the items with warm water to remove any soap residue.
  4. Inspect for Damage: Examine the items closely to identify areas with discoloration, pitting, or corrosion.

2. Removing Discoloration

Discoloration is a common issue with aluminum that has been through the dishwasher. Several methods can be employed to restore the original shine.

Method 1: Vinegar and Water Solution

Materials Needed:

  • White vinegar
  • Water
  • Soft cloth or sponge


  1. Prepare the Solution: Mix equal parts of white vinegar and water in a container.
  2. Apply the Solution: Dip a soft cloth or sponge into the solution and gently rub the discolored areas of the aluminum.
  3. Rinse and Dry: Rinse the items with warm water and dry thoroughly with a clean cloth.

Method 2: Lemon Juice and Baking Soda Paste

Materials Needed:

  • Lemon juice
  • Baking soda
  • Soft cloth or sponge


  1. Make a Paste: Combine lemon juice and baking soda to form a thick paste.
  2. Apply the Paste: Using a soft cloth or sponge, apply the paste to the discolored areas.
  3. Let it Sit: Allow the paste to sit for about 5-10 minutes.
  4. Rinse and Dry: Rinse thoroughly with warm water and dry with a clean cloth.

3. Addressing Pitting and Corrosion

For aluminum items that have developed pitting or corrosion, more intensive methods may be required.

Method 1: Cream of Tartar Paste

Materials Needed:

  • Cream of tartar
  • Water
  • Soft cloth or sponge


  1. Create a Paste: Mix cream of tartar with a small amount of water to create a paste.
  2. Apply to Pitted Areas: Using a soft cloth or sponge, apply the paste to the pitted or corroded areas.
  3. Scrub Gently: Gently scrub the areas in a circular motion.
  4. Rinse and Dry: Rinse the items with warm water and dry thoroughly.

Method 2: Aluminum Polish

Materials Needed:

  • Aluminum polish (commercially available)
  • Soft cloth


  1. Apply the Polish: Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for applying the aluminum polish to the affected areas.
  2. Buff the Surface: Use a soft cloth to buff the surface to a shine.
  3. Rinse and Dry: Rinse the items with warm water and dry thoroughly.

4. Preventive Measures

To avoid future damage to your aluminum items, consider the following preventive measures:

Hand Wash Only

Always wash aluminum items by hand using mild dish soap and warm water. Avoid using abrasive sponges or harsh chemicals.

Avoid Dishwasher Use

Refrain from placing aluminum items in the dishwasher. The combination of high temperatures and harsh detergents can lead to further damage.

Dry Immediately

After washing, dry aluminum items immediately with a clean cloth to prevent water spots and further oxidation.

5. Maintenance Tips

Regular maintenance can help preserve the appearance and integrity of your aluminum items.

Routine Cleaning

Regularly clean your aluminum items using mild dish soap and water. Avoid letting food or liquids sit on the surface for extended periods.

Use Protective Coatings

Consider applying a protective coating or polish specifically designed for aluminum to create a barrier against oxidation and corrosion.


Restoring aluminum items after dishwasher damage requires a bit of effort, but with the right techniques and preventive measures, you can keep your aluminum cookware and utensils looking as good as new. By understanding the causes of aluminum corrosion and following the detailed steps outlined above, you can effectively restore and maintain the beauty and functionality of your aluminum items.

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