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Aluminum shiny finish destroyed in dishwasher
Q. I recently placed a new shinny aluminum meat-mallet (tenderizer) in our dishwasher. It came out almost black and looks terrible. Can I do anything to restore the original finish or at least a clean looking finish. What would have caused this? Was it anodized or something? Could anodizing be removed simply by washing in a dishwasher. Was there a chemical reaction or dissimilar metal issue?
Any advice appreciated as my wife wants to kill me for damaging it. She may even use the meat tenderizer to do it! I would at least like to be killed with a clean, shiny objectGary Cay
Plastics - Sydney, Australia
A. Metal polish; most likely you managed to oxidize the surface of the metal. Just use whatever metal polish you have handy to remove the surface oxidization, if you don't have any, try toothpaste.Marc Banks
Blacksmith - Shawboro, North Carolina
Take the easy way out. Sneak out and buy an identical one. Rub it a tiny bit with toothpaste, give it to the lovely lady and tell her that you "polished it" No lie, but not the whole truth either.
P.S., keep this one in the hand wash category.James Watts
- Navarre, Florida
February 15, 2011
A. Try making a paste of water and cream of tartar (available in the spice aisle at the grocery store, if not already in your kitchen cabinet). Use either a clean cotton cloth, or in this case, an old tooth brush, nail brush or sponge, and work the paste until the shine has been restored.Kim Pace
- Fort Worth, Texas
Dishwasher caused white spots on aluminum cake pansMay 16, 2010
Q. I ran my 9 inch round aluminum cake pans through the dishwasher and they have a few white powdery spots on them. My questions are:
1) what are these white spots and what causes them?
2) does this mean that my pans should be tossed out? (they are pretty old - they belonged to my grandmother who was born in 1908.)
3) should I avoid putting these and other aluminum baking pans in the dishwasher?
bake for fun when I can - Cleveland, Ohio, USA
First of four simultaneous responses -- May 19, 2010
A. Dishwashing detergent is quite hard on aluminum pans that have not been anodized. They have an oxide layer that allows the pan not to corrode. Clean with a plastic sponge scrubber in warm water, coat the pan with a Light coat of oil and bake at 350 °F for an hour or so. Let it cool down in the oven. Should work fine.James Watts
- Navarre, Florida
Second of four simultaneous responses -- May 19, 2010
Aluminum is sensitive to harsh detergents. Most dishwasher detergents are alkaline in nature. The good news is, the white spots can be removed. Buy a small jar of cream of tartar in the spice section of the supermarket. Mix in a small amount of warm water to form a paste. With a medium coarse rag rub the paste over the whole pan in a circular motion giving added time to the white spots. Rinse well with warm water and towel dry. You may have to repeat the process. I would use a mild dish detergent and wash pans by hand from now on.
process engineer - Malone, New York
Third of four simultaneous responses -- May 19, 2010
A. Hi Marjorie,
This sounds like the aluminum was oxidized during the wash phase. Are you even supposed to put aluminum in a dishwasher?
Okay, so here's what's happening:
Your dish-washing detergent contains alkaline phosphates. At high pH, the 'passive' aluminum surface dissolves as Na2Al(OH)4 (sodium aluminate). This reveals 'active' metal underneath, which reacts with the phosphates in the water to form aluminum phosphate. Sodium aluminate reacts with sodium phosphate to form sodium aluminum phosphate. Sodium aluminum phosphates precipitate out of the water, and deposit onto the sites along the surface of the aluminum cookware, leaving these powdery spots.
Sodium aluminum phosphate isn't dangerous if you accidentally consume. It's often used as a leavening agent for baking. If you scrub the surface with a Brillo pad, this should be fine to use again.
In the future, try to clean baking sheets by hand; dishwashers provide a corrosive environment for aluminum.
- Toledo, Ohio
Fourth of four simultaneous responses -- May 20, 2010
A. The aluminium that the cake tins are made from is probably being attacked by the dishwasher powder. This is starting to cause corrosion which is the white spots. My advice would be to clean the tins with some of the more abrasive pan scourers to remove the corrosion, rinse well. Put a light coating of vegetable oil on the pans with kitchen roll before putting them back into your cupboard. From now on only hand wash them.Ciaron Murphy
- South Wales UK
Aluminum meat grinder parts washed in dishwasher turned grayNovember 4, 2010
Q. A friend borrowed our meat grinder and washed the aluminum parts that are not dishwasher safe in the dishwasher! The once pretty shiny silver looking parts are now dark gray and leave a black tarnish on your fingers. How can I clean it, to get it to the point where it will be safe to use again?Tawny Dunlevy
Homemaker - Sitka, Alaska, USA
November 4, 2010
A. Hi, Tawny
I think it's safe to use, and I believe if you look it up in authoritative places you will find the same opinion expressed by the Alzheimer's Association, EPA, etc. But that black smut is unappealing and if you can get rid of it temporarily, consider yourself lucky.
I used your inquiry as a teachable moment for myself, taking an old aluminum ice cream scooper that has been in the dishwasher a hundred times and seeing what I could do with it. Rubbing it with a cloth soaked in vinegar took off loads of the black smut, but was generating it almost as fast as it took it off :-) After I rinsed it, not much further black smut came off, and it was darker in color because I had dissolved any white corrosion products. I then tried a sulfamic acid metal polish and the experiment went pretty much the same. Not having any Mother's Mag & Aluminum Polish [linked by editor to product info at Amazon] at hand, I tried rubbing compound (by hand), and the result was slightly better.
Moving on to conjecture, I think you could brighten it up and remove the black smut if you buff it with a power tool (a buffer, a Dremel [linked by editor to product info at Amazon], or at least a buffing pad on a battery operated drill) and the Mother's. But I think once the anodized coating is gone, it's gone, and it will not stay shiny for long. Sorry.
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Pine Beach, New Jersey
P.S.: We merged several separate threads together here to consolidate the information, so it's not that readers are blowing off the other postings ... they weren't there. For example, I'm not suggesting that cream of tartar won't work; rather, that was a suggestion that actually came after my posting. Sorry for the confusion.
November 9, 2010
A. It has been a while since I've read through it, and I don't have my copy handy, but I recall Wernick Pinner and Sheasby =>
Wernick, Pinner & Sheasby
Great idea, Jim, thanks.
Readers: Sorry I couldn't easily find exactly what Jim was talking about (no surprise though, the book is almost 1300 pages). But I did see graphs showing that the oxide film does continue to grow for 16 to 24 hours in boiling water before it tops out. Some other pages seem to indicate that deionized/distilled water is very important, so try boiling in a very clean enameled pot (or a pot lined with a pot liner or at least a plastic bag), and maybe change out the deionized/distilled water a couple of times.
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Pine Beach, New Jersey
December 8, 2010 -- this entry appended to this thread by editor in lieu of spawning a duplicative thread
Q. I washed my aluminum pressure cooker in the dishwasher. The manual says not dishwasher safe on it; however, I did not see that until later. Instead of being shiny silver it is now dull and has a pink/purple/green tinge to it. Is this safe to use again or should I discard it?Cat Welz
- Vernon, Connecticut, USA
December 9, 2010
I'd guess that the pink/purple/green tinge is a diffraction pattern caused by the very thin last of the anodized coating (sometimes you see automobile headlights shifting color as they approach you if they have anodized reflectors). With a ruined pot, this sounds like the perfect try to try Jim's proposed cure of boiling distilled water in it for 24 hours. Please let us know what happens!
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Pine Beach, New Jersey
January 26, 2013
A. There IS hope for dishwasher discolored aluminum items. My beautiful Arthur Court Measuring spoons were accidentally washed in the dishwasher. I researched on-line and decided the "least likely to do more damage" approach would be the Brillo Pad solution. IT WORKED! I rubbed & scrubbed with a blue filled pad until they were covered in blue goo. This is going to take serious rubbing! Then I used a soft bristle brush & warm soapy water to briskly brush them repeatedly to remove all tarnish and blue goo. I used a little more dish detergent & clean warm water to brush them again and rinsed in warm water. Then I dried them with a soft clean towel. Never underestimate a Brillo Pad & elbow grease! Amazing! I am submitting photos.
- Iowa City, Iowa
November 24, 2013 -- this entry appended to this thread by editor in lieu of spawning a duplicative thread
Q. Hello. I have 2 vintage aluminum (I believe cast) decorative bowls, on of which is a Royal Hickman RH7 Signed Bruce Fox Aluminum Leaf Tray. After a party, my husband put them in the dishwasher and they now have lost their luster and there are darker streaks and spots. Is there a way to restore them?Karen Caldwell
- Sonora, California
February 26, 2015
A. I sought this site because of discolored aluminum.
After reading some of the answers I picked up the sponge that I had just used with a preparation to clean my glass stove top. I spread it on the 50 year old "Wearever" Aluminum chicken fryer that had belonged to my mother. To my surprise, when I came back 10-15 minutes later, a lot of the discoloration was removed, I applied more and let it sit with a good result. Now I am treating the bottom of the pan.
The brand is WEIMAN and it is identified as Weiman Glass Cook Top Cleaner [linked by editor to product info at Amazon].
I haven't tried my cake pan yet.
- Crosslake, Minnesota USA
March 16, 2015
A. I was bummed to find my retro cake cover discolored from putting it in the dishwasher. Found the recommendations here and modified (can't help it, I'm a guy) some of the suggestions and results were spectacular.
I took damp paper towels folded X3, wrapped them around the cake cover; drizzled white vinegar atop the cover to seep into paper towels then put it in plastic shopping bags to soak. Removed them and made a paste out of "Bartender's Keeper" and water and scrubbed some with a scrub sponge.
Cleaner than it's ever been. Still some slight tell tale signs of discoloration but I'm a happy guy; my cake won't go stale.
- hyannis, Massachusetts