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topic 41066p2

Aluminum shiny finish destroyed in dishwasher

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A discussion started in 2006 but continuing through 2020

February 8, 2016

Q. Hey everyone,

I was a goof this last weekend and washed my girlfriend's Starbucks stainless steel cups in the dishwasher. I just saw a sink full of dishes and a pile of clothes by the bed and did them all before I picked her up from work for dinner, but I might have ruined her favorite cups. She says the water she drinks from them tastes funny now. Is there any way to save the cups that she absolutely loves?

Thanks everyone!

Ken Newton
- Lake Stevens

A. Hi Ken. You're sure they're stainless steel rather than aluminum? I'm very surprised that a dishwasher would have such an effect on stainless steel cups. Stainless flatware goes into hundreds of millions of dishwashers every day. But if they are aluminum, this page has ideas for you :-)


pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET - Pine Beach, New Jersey
Aloha -- an idea worth spreading

July 20, 2016

A. Try Barkeepers Friend [affil. link to product info on Amazon] I made a paste and rub most of the grey off easily. soaked in water with some of the bar keepers friend for about 10 minutes, grabbed a scotch brite pad and with very little effort in less than 2 minutes it was like new.

Chad Wilkinson
- Sherburn, Minnesota

August 13, 2016

Q. We rented our house and someone put aluminum Pans in the dishwasher. I cannot get the black out of my dishwasher. HELP. Martha

Martha Dixon
- Bluffton South Carolina

? Hi Martha. I've heard of dishwasher damaging aluminum but I've never heard of aluminum damaging a dishwasher. Can you point us to any reference that leads you to believe this is the cause of the blackening? Are the surfaces in question plastic, or stainless, or what?


pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET - Pine Beach, New Jersey
Aloha -- an idea worth spreading

November 20, 2016

A. Used Cerama Bryte Cooktop Cleaner [affil. link to product info on Amazon] and yellow scrubber that came with it and it removed all the white residue and most of the black from my cookie sheet. Thanks for the glasstop cleaner tip.

Michele acker
- Columbus Ohio usa

January 10, 2017

A. I tried using the cream of tartar and water paste since I had it on hand. It worked out pretty well I spent less than 10 minutes and may have achieved better results if I put more effort into it. I am attaching a photo of my aluminum garlic press that went through the dishwasher. One handle has not been treated the other handle was wiped for about 30 seconds with the paste then rinsed under cool water.

Amber Clark
- PORTERVILLE, California, USA

Ed. note: Thanks Amber, but no pics received. Please e-mail them to

May 5, 2017

Q. I got a new dishwasher with a stainless steel interior. It does all pots and pans, but two cake pans, turned dark gray and mottled. Could it be a chemical reaction between the stainless and the aluminum? They weren't affected in porcelain lined dishwasher. Any suggestions?

Kathy Britten
- Karlstad, Minnesota USA

May 2017

A. Hi Kathy. The kind of reaction you are envisioning is electrochemical, and can only happen if there is contact (electrical continuity) between the aluminum and the stainless.

Whether the problem was some other stainless item touching the pan, a change to a more alkaline dishwasher detergent, or just gradual wear of some clear coating on the cake pans, the thing remains: aluminum doesn't belong in a dishwasher which uses the conventional extremely alkaline dishwasher detergents; they destroy aluminum regardless of other factors.


pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET - Pine Beach, New Jersey
Aloha -- an idea worth spreading

June 5, 2017

A. I just tried all the above suggestions on a formerly shiny, now tarnished, aluminum bowl. Forget the glass top cleaner, the lemon & salt, the lemon & cream of tarter, the vinegar & baking soda.

After wasting 1 hr scrubbing, forget everything except: in a large pan add water & cream of tarter (I did about 2 T); heat to just below boiling; let pan/bowl/item sit until color changes to normal -- about 30 minutes. If you have a large bowl you will need to rotate it as the color changes. It's a lot easier than scrubbing for a long time.

Jo Polst
- Price, utah USA

June 18, 2017


A video on the laziest method to clean aluminum after dishwasher, no scrubbing needed -- Oven, roasting pan, and cream of tartar [affil. link to product info on Amazon].


Andrew Terrence
- Chicago, Illinois

August 24, 2017

thumbs up sign  Thank you for this site! I had no idea my mother's 1950's garlic press was supposed to look this good!


Now to tackle the antique 21.5 All American pressure canner I was just given.

Catherine Bradford
- Saint Louis, Missouri USA

November 7, 2017

A. I read many of the responses, then combined all the knowledge gathered, along with what I had on hand, and discarding anything remotely dangerous, I came up with an amazing result. I tried it again & again with the same results.


My dishwashing disaster was a very old aluminum sieve that I loved. Here's what I did: I applied Barkeepers Friend [affil. link to product info on Amazon], smeared it around with a folded wet paper towel, and let it sit for 5-10 minutes. Then I used the same wet paper towel to rub briskly back and forth over the area. I rinsed it well and the area was cleansed of the blackish mess! But it wasn't bright, as noted by others that had used that technique. But here's what I did differently: I topped it off with a very light rub of Brillo [affil. link to product info on Amazon]. Now it was shiny! And it didn't take hard and lengthy scrubbing/rubbing, and no scratches. (The scratches in my photos go back many years)

Renate Shanahan
- Edison, New Jersey, USA

November 20, 2017

A. Hi I have a SMEG oven and decided to put the burners in the dishwasher. After 10 mins they looked like they were ruined. I searched to find a way to rectify this - I tried vinegar, coke, polish etc. Nothing worked until I found Silvo [affil. link to product info on Amazon] tarnish guard. I polished for ages and voila they are shining again. I am in England if that makes any odds

15155-3c   15155-3a   15155-3e   15155-3d   15155-3b  

Jackie Cayless
- south ockendon essex

November 26, 2017

A. Have similar SMEG cooker with similar burners which also turned black in the dishwasher. A Brillo [affil. link to product info on Amazon] pad removed this and restored back to a shiny finish in minutes.

Jon Pearce
- London, England

January 22, 2018

Q. Bought a set of Mid Century aluminum canisters. One was dark and spotty so I got some metal polish and worked on it. It is still much darker than the rest. Is that fixable? or do I need to just ... well, got find another one that matches :)

Victoria Henderson
- Ozark, Missouri

January 24, 2018

A. Try ammonium citrate 5% pH 7 solution (dissolve 50 gms citric acid in 1 lit water and add some ammonia until pH is 7). Hope it helps and good luck!

Goran Budija
- Zagreb, Croatia

March 27, 2018

A. My experience with Cascade Platinum [affil. link to product info on Amazon] is that it takes off the metal from utensils and pots & pans, and makes spoons black. I have no idea what causes this, but as far as a dishwasher detergent, it's the best out there and works exactly how they describe it. So keep the metal out and you will be okay.

J. Miller
- Las Vegas, Nevada, USA

April 18, 2018

Q. The aluminum corrosion problem with our new Bosch dishwasher is that anything aluminum is just plain eaten up: measuring spoons, garlic press, and, aluminum bottoms of otherwise stainless steel Farberware pots and pans. Nothing like this has happened in the 40 years of washing the Farberware in dishwashers. On the pot bottoms, it can start off with a coppery/bronze tint but progresses to pitting. This is our first stainless-steel-interior dishwasher, and it no doubt runs at the highest temperature in our experience. No change in detergent (Cascade Platinum, 15X Power). I get that there's chemistry going on, but why now? And what can be done to stop it from happening? The wife will not wash the pots by hand (I do most of the cooking).

Richard Kerr
- Bethesda, Maryland, USA

April 2018

A. Hi Richard. I have a Bosch dishwasher with stainless interior as well, but we don't put aluminum in the dishwasher; it's just a bad idea. Personally I don't think the stainless interior is the problem, but you may be on the right track with the water temperature. Maybe you can turn down the water heater as long as the clothes washer keeps working.


pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET - Pine Beach, New Jersey
Aloha -- an idea worth spreading

May 1, 2018

A. With more research and a bit of experimentation, the appearance of aluminum corrosion with a new dishwasher can likely be attributed to a combination of:
previous removal of phosphates (which had some protective effect)from dishwasher detergents;
the addition of more corrosive agents to detergents to make up for the missing phosphates;
the higher water temperature of the new dishwasher;
the higher concentration of detergent in a more water-efficient dishwasher;
and the longer contact time of the new dishwasher.

Switching from Cascade Platinum (15X) to plain old Cascade (10X) helps a good deal but does not eliminate corrosion. Aluminum-clad pots will have to endure it; the rest of the aluminum will be replaced with stainless steel.

Richard Kerr [returning]
- Bethesda, Maryland, USA

skip to next posting on Farberware sub-topic 

July 16, 2018

Q. My jumbo Bialetti espresso pot (cast aluminum went from shiny and smooth to charcoal-black after a wash with Cascade Platinum.
I tried scotch-brute scrub, brillo scrub, cream of tartar in boiling water soak for 6 hours. Pot is brighter but remains dull and black smudges appear if I use a paper towel to wipe it. I'l try buffing next, but I can't easily buff the interior. Has anyone tried the ammonium citrate method suggested above (from Zagreb, Croatia) ??

fred buehrer
retired - Manchester, New Hampshire

December 30, 2018

Q. So I just washed my new meat grinder in the dishwasher, and got the same effect... boil it in water for a day to get rid of the grime? Or just buy new from the manufacturer? Totally not worried about it being shiny. Just want to make some sausage.

Matt Kohser
- Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania United States

December 2018

A. Hi Matt. Sorry about that. The manufacturer should probably have warned you. I personally like the cream of tartar answer the best.


pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET - Pine Beach, New Jersey
Aloha -- an idea worth spreading

Cooktop Cleaner Paste

January 13, 2019

A. Based on other suggestions here, I used grade 0000 steel wool [affil. link to Rockler] and glass stovetop (paste) cleaner, and it completely restored knives and other pieces that had been "ruined" for years.

Allyson Saaf
- San Antonio, Texas, USA

August 29, 2019

Q. Hi I just put my meat grinder parts in the dishwasher and all came out grey. Black just kept coming off, I read on pinterest about ketchup cleaning aluminum, it worked great, just coat the pieces , let sit for 5 min. wipe with lots of paper towels, repeat if you need to, then rinse with water. I haven't used it yet. Can I still use the parts even thought they aren't shiny?

Dorothy Turner
retired - RR#1 Dashwood canada

August 2019

A. Hi Dorothy. I am not familiar with the use of ketchup on aluminum (cream of tartar seems the most highly suggested fix on this site). But if the ketchup solved the problem, great. There is no need for aluminum to be shiny for it to be safe and usable. Good luck with it.


pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET - Pine Beach, New Jersey
Aloha -- an idea worth spreading

Protecting Aluminum by boiling?

February 5, 2020

Q. Good morning, been searching around for answers and most have linked me back to this page. Nice work by all.

My situation/ Question:

Purchased a used dirty/moldy electric food slicer. Cleaned most by hand. In a weak moment, I put the food carrier portion in the dishwasher, thinking it was stainless. Needless to say it was aluminum and it came out oxidized and ugly. Tried lemon juice, vinegar, barkeeper's friend all with varying results. Ended up hitting it with a 320 grit 3M scotch pad and it evened up the finish and gave a slight shine.
Now on to protecting it. It's the actual food carrier so chemicals are out. I read a few posts referring to "Wernick Pinner and Sheasby" -- don't mind buying or checking out a book, but I'm afraid this one would make my head hurt. The process referred to was to boil the Aluminum parts for 24 hours in distilled water & doing that "will put a thin but highly protective coating on the aluminum". But the posts were not followed up with results. Someone also mentioned "If you plan on using these mugs for drinking, thin coat of sulfuric anodizing should suffice. Just seal in DI water" but not sure of that process.
I have a 15-gallon stainless brew kettle with a stainless heating element that would be big and powerful enough to do the boil. Which leads me to two questions:
Has anyone done this successfully?
Will the Distilled water harm the stainless kettle during the process?
Do you have any other recommendations for my situation that would be "food safe"

Hobbyist - Woodbridge, New Jersey USA

February 2020

A. Hi James.
Hundreds of millions (if not billions) of people have boiled water in aluminum, so it's certainly 'food safe' as far as most people view it (some, of course, feel that cooking in aluminum pots is dangerous).

Although it is not impossible to do sulfuric acid anodizing at home, this is a multi-step process involving acquisition of equipment, chemicals, and knowledge that you are not going to learn, practice, and do for the sake of one pot.

As for "has anyone done this successfully", I don't think anyone would be able to quantify their success anyway, but this is the back story: Aluminum is a very active metal that oxidizes instantly, automatically leaving a very thin oxide coating on the surface. Sulfuric acid anodizing is an approach that employs electricity and acid to engineer that oxide coating to maximum thickness, utility and corrosion resistance. Boiling in D.I. water for up to 24 hours is a compromise between doing nothing and sulfuric acid anodizing. I think authoritative sources like Wernick Pinner and Sheasby indicate that it can be of some value and that the thickness will continue to build for up to 24 hours. It's perhaps possible that or might locate a controlled study if you're more patient than me :-)


pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET - Pine Beach, New Jersey
Aloha -- an idea worth spreading

February 12, 2020

A. There are many chemical oxidation processes for aluminum; try USPTO gov website (expired patents). Sodium aluminate, potassium ferricyanide, ferric citrate, or potassium permanganate and calcium hydroxide based are just some of them ... Hope it helps and good luck

Goran Budija
- Zagreb,Croatia

Wire brush inside of aluminum pot

February 13, 2020 -- this entry appended to this thread by editor in lieu of spawning a duplicative thread

Q. I have used a circular wire brush in a drill to clean my 40 year old aluminum pot. Is there any problem with this? Was pot likely coated? Is brushed surface going to allow metal particles to now be combined with cooked foods?

David Preddy
- Henrico, Virginia

February 2020

A. Hi David. The Q&A immediately above yours seems applicable. This site has, without exaggeration, hundreds of opinions and references covering both sides of the question of whether aluminum is safe. Please search the site with the term "safety of aluminum" if you have endless hours to spend on the question. If not, all we can say is some people, including me, think it's safe; some think it's not :-)


pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET - Pine Beach, New Jersey
Aloha -- an idea worth spreading

skip back to previous posting on Farberware sub-topic 
October 3, 2020

affil. link

Back to the Farberware and Bosch dishwasher discussion ... I also have 40 year old aluminum-clad Farberware that I've been washing in the DW all along. Suddenly the aluminum bottoms started turning white and chalky. I cleaned them with SOS successfully. What has worked for me is changing detergents. Mrs. Meyer's pacs are the only detergent I have found that don't make the aluminum white. Must have a different chemical formula. We do have a lot of lime in the water here, but have a softener, and that has not changed.

Kathy Miner
- Madison Wisconsin

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