cleaning aluminum pans discoloration
Kristina Davis

Aluminum continues to be among the most popular metals used in the kitchen, but cleaning aluminum pans discoloration can be a pain in the neck.

Aluminum has many desirable qualities, including its low cost, lightweight, and long life.

This affordable cookware is also a great conductor of heat. The only thing is that it can become dirty and discolored like any other metal after some time.

That built-up grease, grime, or burnt-on food can always make your pots and pans dirty.

burnt food and grease

But, placing your aluminum pan in a dishwasher can also lead to discoloration.

This is when so many people ask, “How do you clean discolored aluminum pans?”

From simple washing to using your own cleaning solution to scrubbing with salt, you can do a lot to clean discolored aluminum pans. 

The Issue of Having Discolored Aluminum Pans

the aluminum issue

It is important to remember that staining an aluminum pan is an entirely organic and natural thing to do

Leaving your aluminum pan out in the open instead in a cupboard for an extended time might cause unsightly stains to develop.

When using an aluminum skillet for cooking acidic foods, oxidation or discoloration can occur.

discoloration and oxidation

In fact, the acidity of even the simplest sauces can corrode an aluminum pan.

It may rust if you use the improper utensil or put something metallic on your pan. Similarly, aluminum pans and wet food do not mix.

Another possible cause is failing to dry the aluminum pan after washing thoroughly.

Note: There are some concerns regarding aluminum cookware associated with Alzheimer's, but there is no conclusive evidence linking the two. 

The Love-Hate Relationship of Aluminum and Dishwashers

the hate love relationship

Washing aluminum pots and pans in the dishwasher might lead to a reaction that discolors the cookware.  

You may have to deal with serious issues later if you have not prepared your aluminum or stainless-steel cookware for the dishwasher.

Generally, metal will have a hard time in the dishwasher.

The powerful jets of water, rattling around with other objects, and harsh chemicals can all lead to nicks, pockmarks, and discoloration.

What it means is that aluminum may not fare well in the dishwasher.

pockmarks and nicks

If your aluminum cookware has not been anodized, you may notice that your pans, pots, and baking sheets have pits or other signs of corrosion. 

Aluminum pans and utensils are best cleaned by hand. Using natural astringents to restore the cookware to its previous condition is preferable.

It works especially if it has become discolored after being washed in the dishwasher.

Note: The alkalinity of your washing detergent is why you notice white spots on the surface of your aluminum pans after a dishwashing session. 

The Standard Way of Cleaning Aluminum Pans Discoloration

the standard cleaning

You can try many ways to clean discolored aluminum pans, but it usually depends on the stain itself. 

The following steps will help bring your aluminum pans back to life:

Wash It Well

wash it thoroughly

Before you proceed, ensure that your aluminum pan is not hot.

Then, use dish soap, a sponge, and warm water to remove any oil or filth that may already be present.

Scrub any bits of scorched food with the sponge’s rough side. Sticky food can be removed using a wooden spoon if necessary. 

Use a Cleaning Solution

using a cleaning solution

Now, here is when you can get a bit creative. You can try various cleaning solutions, but the goal is to pick something acidic to reduce discoloration.

Anything like white vinegar, cream of tartar, or lemon juice would do just fine. 

Bring It to a Boil

bring to a boil

Now, fill the pan with some water and add your cleaning solution to it as well. Then, bring it to a boil. Let it boil for about 15 minutes.

Simply turn off the heat and get rid of the mixture.

This is usually enough to make your aluminum pans look bright and shiny, but it also depends on how stubborn the discoloration is. 

Rinse It Again

one more time rinse it

Finally, you should use hot water, dish soap, and a regular sponge to eliminate lingering stains.

Tip: So many people end up damaging their aluminum pans by using other abrasive scrubbers, so avoid it and wash and dry your cookware with a dish towel.

Interesting Ways To Clean Discolored Aluminum Pans

exciting ways to clean

Removing oxidation and stains from an aluminum pan is difficult but not impossible.

The basic cleaning method works fine in most cases, but sometimes, the stain is a bit too stubborn. 

Try the following to get good results: 

Use Peroxide and Baking Soda

use baking soda and peroxide

Hydrogen peroxide is an effective cleanser that may remove stubborn stains.

The good thing is that you can make a potent cleaning solution simply by mixing hydrogen peroxide and baking soda.

This solution is excellent for cleaning metal cookware that has become oxidized and eliminating stubborn stains. 

How To Do It?

utilizing baking soda
  1. Blend up 3 tbsp of peroxide and 2 tbsp of baking soda.
  2. Simply incorporate a small amount of water to create a paste.
  3. Take a scrubber to apply the solution over the stain.
  4. Leave it there for at least 10 minutes until it becomes dry.
  5. Now, scrub it gently to get rid of any stains.
  6. Finish by rinsing your aluminum pan in hot water. 

Soak It in Vinegar

soak it in the vinegar

Vinegar is the panacea of household cleaners, capable of eradicating every stain from any surface, including your aluminum frying pans. 

How To Do It?

  1. Take a tsp of white vinegar and add it to a cup of water.
  2. Mix well and pour it into your discolored aluminum pan.
  3. Then boil it for a couple of minutes.
  4. Get rid of the solution and rinse your pan with cold water.

Use Some Salt

using some salt

Using coarse Kosher salt is an excellent alternative to using any commercial abrasive.

You may eliminate oily stains and burnt food spills by scrubbing them with salt. 

How To Do It?

To get rid of burnt food stains, you should do the following:

  1. Simply add some salt to the water and soak your pan in it.
  2. Leave it overnight and then boil the water.
  3. Continue boiling until you notice the stain becoming loose.
how to use salt

To get rid of burned milk stains, you can try the following:

  1. Take some salt and sprinkle it over a wet aluminum pan.
  2. Be sure to cover the discolored patch properly.
  3. Leave it there for a few minutes, and then scrub it gently. 

Give Lemon a Try

giving lemon a try

Lemon works excellently on your aluminum pans because its acidic nature makes it effective against discoloration and oxidation.

How To Do It?

  1. Simply take a large lemon and cut it in half.
  2. Use that slice and rub it vigorously over the stain.
  3. Leave it there for a while and rinse. 

Opt for Cream of Tartar

use cream of tartar

When nothing else works, and you wonder how to clean darkened aluminum pans, you can use cream of tartar.   

How To Do It?

  1. Take one liter of water in a large bowl.
  2. Add 2 tbsp of cream of tartar to the bowl.
  3. Mix it well and pour it into the pan.
  4. Now, bring the mixture to a boil.
  5. Leave it there for a few minutes until it cools down a little.
  6. Then rub the stain gently to loosen it and get rid of it. 

Try Dishwasher Liquid

trying dishwashing liquid

If your aluminum pan gets stained, it is possible to use your regular dishwasher soap liquid to get the spots off quickly and easily. 

How To Do It?

  1. Use a wooden spoon to remove any bits of burnt food.
  2. Take your dishwasher liquid and apply it to the stain.
  3. Spread it over the affected area nicely and leave it there.
  4. Now, add some water to the pan and boil it.
  5. Take it off the heat after a while and set it aside.
  6. Then scrape off the stain and rinse it with soapy cold water.
  7. Finally, scrub with a sponge to remove any remaining stains.
what you should know
Tip: The high acidic content of apple peels can also help eliminate discoloration on your aluminum pans. 


Cleaning aluminum pans discoloration can become challenging if you don’t know how to tackle it.

Thankfully, many cleaning solutions are available to help you get the job done. Always try multiple remedies when dealing with a stubborn stain or deep discoloration.