Removing Discoloration from Aluminum Utensils

aluminum pans
Left: Discolored
Right: Clean

Are your aluminum pans discolored?Discoloration that appears on aluminum utensils can be removed by boiling a solution of two to three tablespoons of cream of tartar, lemon juice or vinegar to each quart of water in the utensil for 5 to 10 minutes. Next, lightly scour with a soap-filled scouring pad. Cooking acid foods such as tomatoes or rhubarb will remove the stains naturally without affecting the cooked food product. To remove stains from the aluminum exterior, use a non-abrasive cleanser.

Beth Marrs

I graduated from Iowa State University with a degree in Adult Home Economics Education. I love to cook and entertain and spend time with my family.

More Posts

19 thoughts on “Removing Discoloration from Aluminum Utensils

  1. Removing aluminum discoloration on a kitchen appliance requires hard work and is usually only partially successful. I opted for the easy way on a low pressure/convection oven door that was a mess. I suppose this has been done before but I haven’t seen it. I repainted the frame of the oven door, masking parts not to be painted and used Vaseline on spots not accessible. Then using a high heat semi black glossy spray paint (used for grills) I spray painted the door. It may not be aluminum colored but to me it looks as good as the original finish. I also have an aluminum removable crumb tray that was a mess. I opted not to paint that, though. Instead I covered it with foil. When cleaning the oven, I remove the old greasy aluminum and replace it with a new cover. Saves time and work.

  2. Why do cups left on an aluminium draining board leave little black “holes” in the surface? It looks like rust in a steel sheet. Obviously, on aluminium it cannot be rust.

  3. I set a dish with a custard dessert I had made into an aluminum pan half filled with water to bake. When I took it out the aluminum pan is stained with a very dark stain where the water was. It doesn’t seem to be caked on, just stained so how can I remove it. If I can’t remove it, is it safe to use anymore? Thanks for your help.

  4. My granddaughter
    Put a decorative aluminum butter dish in the dishwasher and now it has very dark stains on the top and bottom. Would ketchup applied to the stains and left to sit awhile work ? I heard that cooking tomatoes works.

  5. The chemicals in the detergent, the minerals in the water and the high temperatures in the dishwasher causes aluminum to turn dark. Try boiling a solution of two to three tablespoons of cream of tartar, lemon juice or vinegar to each quart of water and dip the butter dish into this water solution. Swirl the dish in the water and then lightly scour with a soap-filled scouring pad.The ketchup may work but I would try these directions first.

  6. I can’t tell what the directions are without the Oxford comma. Very frustrating! Is it 2-3 tablespoons of cream of tartar and either lemon juice or vinegar? Or is it choose one: 2-3 tablespoons of cream of tartar, or lemon juice, or vinegar? I sincerely ask because I think I’ve ruined my aluminum coffee pot from the 1950’s. I was trying to clean it by boiling baking soda and water in it, and may have ruined it. It’s now covered in oxidation. Thanks for any help.

  7. Hi Dodie, It is choose one: 2-3 tablespoons of cream of tartar, lemon juice, or vinegar. All are acids which is what is needed to remove the discoloration. Tomato juice also works but should not be diluted with water.

  8. Hello, very helpful blog. I have an ice cream scoop that I put in the dishwasher and it is now a mess. Of course, later read imprinted on it: do not put in dishwasher or boiling water. So, do you think the vinegar treatment will help? And can I use white vinegar?
    Thank you!

  9. Hi Karen. I am sorry that this happened to your ice cream scoop. I would try using either vinegar (white is great), lemon juice or cream of tartar (make a paste if using cream of tartar) and rubbing it with the rough side of a kitchen sponge. Hopefully that will take off the rough feel that happens when it gets accidentally put in the dishwasher.

  10. hi Karen, sorry for the accidental dishwasher washing. Aluminium reacts badly with dishwasher detergent causing oxidation, blackening or tarnish. You can try removing it with vinegar, lemon juice, or Barkeeper’s Friend (oxalic acid). The acids may or may not work as the oxidation is compounded by the handle which may contain a conductive material that warms the bowl from the warmth of the hand on the handle.

  11. I have an old aluminum pot that was was stained pretty bad and boiled up a bunch of corn on the cob left the water in overnight and the next morning everything below the water line was bright and shiny as new
    Wired huh?

  12. Hi David, who would have thought??? Boiled corn is acidic but it is hard to believe that the corn water was acidic enough to make this happen!

  13. I appreciate everyone’s honesty. Discoloration on your metal cookware? A solution of two to three tablespoons of cream of tartar, lemon juice, or vinegar to each quart of water in the utensil can be boiled for 5 to 10 minutes to remove discoloration. Scrub the area very gently with a scouring pad soaked in soapy water. Stains can be removed spontaneously during cooking using acid foods like tomatoes or rhubarb. Use a mild, abrasive cleaner to get rid of stains on the aluminum exterior. This article was very entertaining to me.

  14. Hi, several metals turn green overtime–cooper, brass, bronze, and even nickel. Most green can be removed with an acid (lemon juice or vinegar) and salt. Mix equal parts to make a paste and apply. Allow to sit for a bit and then scrub with a soft bristle brush. However, we have no way of knowing if this mixture is appropriate for your shakers.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Connect with us!

AnswerLine's Facebook page AnswerLine's Pinterest page
Phone: (Monday-Friday, 9 am-noon; 1-4 pm)
1-800-262-3804 (in Iowa)
1-800-854-1678 (in Minnesota)