How to Clean a Stained Aluminum Pan – 10 Methods!

An aluminum pan can allow you to cook restaurant-quality meals from the comfort of your home.

Aluminum cookware is always a chef’s first choice because of its high-quality and reliable results.

However, aluminum pans can be high maintenance (probably because they know their worth).

Why are Aluminum Pans High Maintenance?

Well, an aluminum pan can collect a lot more grime than cast iron or steel pans and stain pretty quickly too.

Hence, if you do not take proper care of your aluminum pans, they start to oxidize and collect rust on the surface.

If it wasn’t already obvious, you should never consider cooking food in an oxidized pan.

But hold up! A stained aluminum pan does not belong in your trash bin yet. You can always try to salvage it with items you already have lying around the house.

What Might Stain an Aluminum Pan?

If you ever stain your aluminum pan, you should note that it is a very natural and organic process.

Usually, an aluminum pan can get a stain if you leave them outside for too long rather than in a cabinet.

Moreover, oxidization or staining can also occur if you prepare acidic foods in an aluminum pan. Simple sauces such as tomato sauce can stain an aluminum pan because of their acidic content.

Sometimes even using the wrong utensil or storing another metal item on top of the pain can also cause it to stain.

Similarly, moisture and aluminum pans also do no go well together. Dishwasher sessions or not drying up an aluminum pan after washing can be another factor.

How to Remove Stains from Aluminum Pans

Getting rid of the stains and oxidization on an aluminum pan can be challenging but not impossible.

Here are some excellent stain removal methods you can try:

Method 1: A Good Old Vinegar Soak

Vinegar is the Holy Grail of multipurpose cleaners that can easily remove stubborn stains on household items, including your aluminum cooking pans.

All you have to do is:

  1. Mix one teaspoon of white vinegar in a cup of water, enough to cover the stains;
  2. Boil the water and vinegar mixture for a few minutes in the pan with the stains;
  3. Rinse it out with cold water.

Method 2: Scrub Scrub Scrub with Salt

Coarse Kosher salt is an excellent abrasive cleaner for cooking pots and pans. Scrubbing with salt can help you remove greasy marks and burnt food messes.

If you have burnt food stains on your aluminum pan:

  1. Soak it overnight in salt water
  2. Boil the salt water in the pan till the stains lift off from the surface

If your aluminum pan has burned milk stains:

  1. Sprinkle your wet aluminum pan with salt, ensure that you cover all the stains nicely
  2. Wait for a few minutes, then scrub the pan gently

You can carry out the same method as stated above if you are dealing with grimy grease stains on the edges of your aluminum pan.

Method 3: Lemon to the rescue!

Slice a lemon in half and rub it across the aluminum pan.

You can even buff it out further with a soft cloth. The acid in the lemon can help remove stubborn stains and make your dull pans sparkle.

Method 4: Cream of Tartar

Cream of tartar is a great ingredient to use if you have discolored aluminum pans.

  1. Mix 2 tablespoons cream of tartar with a liter of water;
  2. Add the mixture to the pan and bring it to a boil;
  3. Wait for a few minutes till the water is thoroughly cooled;
  4. Gently scrub the pan to lift off stains and revive its shine.

Method 5: Commercial Cleaners are also an option

You can always pick a commercial cleaner from your supermarket to help with aluminum pan stains. Here are a few examples of the best aluminum cleaners you can use:

  1. Brasso
  2. Star Brite
  3. Eagle One
  4. 3M Polish
  5. Bar Keeper’s Friend

However, there are so many natural ingredients that work just as well. Why waste your money on a commercial cleaning product that has added chemicals and is probably not environment friendly.

Method 6: Apple Peels

You have to keep in mind that aluminum does not react to alkaline products such as laundry detergent.

It always needs something with a high acidic content to remove the stains thoroughly from the surface. Hence, lemon works pretty well.

If you do not have any lemons on hand, you can always use apple peels.

Apples are also naturally acidic but just lesser than lemons.

  1. Peel at least 3-4 medium-sized apples (Green apples work best);
  2. Fill the pan with water and add the apple peels;
  3. Let the apple peels soak and boil in the pan for about 30 minutes;
  4. Remove the liquid and gently scrub to remove the loose stains.

Method 7: Dishwasher Liquid Soak

One of the easiest ways to clean stains from an aluminum pan is to use dishwasher soap liquid.

  1. Scrape off any gunk or burnt food bits with a wooden spoon;
  2. Cover the stains with dishwasher liquid and let it sit for a while;
  3. Add a bit of water to the pan and let it come to a boil;
  4. Rinse out the soapy liquid with cold water;
  5. Once the pan cools down, scrub it gently with a sponge to remove the remaining softened stains.

Method 8: Baking Soda & Peroxide duo

Hydrogen peroxide is a pretty strong cleaner that can attack persistent stains.

Combining the forces of baking soda and hydrogen peroxide can lead to a powerful cleaning solution.

Not only does this solution remove stains, but it is also perfect for removing oxidization from aluminum pans as well.

  1. Mix two tablespoons of baking soda with three tablespoons of hydrogen peroxide;
  2. Add a few drops of water to turn it into a paste;
  3. Use a scrubber or a sponge to spread the solution evenly over the stains;
  4. After 10 minutes, scrub the dried solution. It will easily crumble off, leaving the pan surface clean and shiny;
  5. Rinse the pan with hot water and gently scrub off any remaining bits.

Pro Tip: If your aluminum pan shows signs of rust, it is always wise to rub a little oil on the surface of the pan to prevent further rust formation.

Method 9: Dryer Sheets

Using a dryer sheet on an aluminum pan can work like magic. This is especially true for cleaning a burnt aluminum pan when nothing else is working.

  1. Cover the surface of the pan with a dryer sheet;
  2. Add cold water enough to make the dryer sheet wet. The goal is to make the dryer sheet stick to the stains on the surface of the pan. The chemicals in the dryer sheet will react with the stains and start the removal process;
  3. Leave the pan for around 60 minutes;
  4. Remove the dryer sheet and rinse any remaining liquids or chemicals.

Method 10: Make your own cleaning solution

Suppose your pans seem to stain very often, or most cleaning hacks don’t do much to remove the stains you have. In that case, it is always wise to create your own cleaning solution with the toughest stain eliminating elements.

Here is what you’ll need:

  • 2 cups of water
  • 2 teaspoons cream of tartar
  • Rubber gloves
  • Wooden spoon
  • Dishwashing liquid
  • Scrubber or a sponge
  1. Fill your stained aluminum pan with 2 cups of cold water;
  2. Add 2 tablespoons are cream of tartar. If you do not have cream of tartar, you can always switch it out for vinegar or lemon juice;
  3. Use a wooden spoon to combine the ingredients, then put the pan on a stovetop;
  4. Boil the mixture in the pan for at least 15 minutes;
  5. Throw out the mix and allow the pan to cool;
  6. Scrub off the remaining loose stains from the surface of the pan.


There are many ways to remove stains from an aluminum pan. Which method works out for you depends on the type of stains you have.

Sometimes the stains on your aluminum pan are so old and tough that one-time cleaning doesn’t do much.

To that, we can say that it is crucial for you to trust the process.

If you have a tough stain, chances are you may have to repeat the process more than once to get everything shining like new.

Aluminum pans generally have a long life, and a few persistent stains are hardly a reason for you to throw them out.

Once you’ve successfully removed the stains from your aluminum pan, ensure that you care for it to prevent further staining.

Limit acidic food preparation, keep a check on food burns, and always be wary of excessive moisture while storing your aluminum pan.

With a few hacks, ingredients, and know-how, you won’t have to deal with tough aluminum pan stains as often ever again!

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