How to clean tarnish from aluminum

Aluminium that is exposed to the elements can end up tarnished over time, leaving an undesirable appearance that can lead to later corrosion. To combat this problem, the tarnish can be removed with a brillo pad and some elbow grease. Aluminium foil can then be added to the mix, to bring out a shine that will make your aluminium as bright as it can be. Add a little fibreglass wax, and your tarnished aluminium will sparkle like new.

Fill a bucket with warm water. The water will be used to wet your brillo pad and to rinse your terry cloths. You do not need to add any detergent to the water for this project; the soap from the brillo pad is all that will be necessary.

Wet a brillo pad until it is soapy, and rub it along the tarnished aluminium object. Keep scrubbing until you see that the tarnish has been removed from the base of the aluminium. You may need to use some muscle power, but the result will be worth it.

Remove the excess soap of the brillo pad from the aluminium with a wet cloth, and then dry the surface thoroughly with a second cloth. A thick terry cloth is suggested because of its superb absorbency.

Crumple a piece of aluminium foil up into a ball, shiny side facing out. It is advisable to use heavy-duty aluminium foil; it is durable and can be found in most supermarkets.

Rub the heavy-duty aluminium foil onto the aluminium to bring out its brilliance. Vigorous rubbing with the aluminium foil will increase the effect, and make your aluminium sparkle.

Apply a light coating of fibreglass wax with a soft cloth, and buff off using a terry cloth pad. Fibreglass wax can be found in auto parts stores, and will protect the aluminium from future tarnishing.


A square piece of cork board can also be used to rub out tarnish from aluminium. The cork surface is gently abrasive and can be quite effective in removing tarnish. Wet the cork’s surface, and give it a try.


Avoid using any ammonia or acid-based cleaners on any of your aluminium items. The chemicals will corrode the surface of the aluminium, causing pitting and rust. Mild cleaners, like dish detergent, are all that is necessary.

Things You'll Need

  • Brillo pad
  • Several terry cloth rags
  • Terry cloth pad
  • Aluminum foil
  • Fiberglass wax
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About the Author

Jonae Fredericks started writing in 2007. She also has a background as a licensed cosmetologist and certified skin-care specialist. Jonae Fredericks is a certified paraeducator, presently working in the public education system.