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fiep 01-28-2013 07:57 AM

cleaning aluminum
yes, I know,

I would like to clean aluminum surfaces without polishing them
want to retain the matte, whitish aluminum sheen
and not end up with a chromy-shiny surface

how do I achieve that?

SgtDuster 01-28-2013 08:08 AM

Aluminium oxyde is a tuff guy.

There're 2 ways to remove it; chemical or physical.

Forget the physical way if you don't want to polish it.

So it leaves you with chemical. (phosphoric) Acid based cleaner like DX-533 would do it.

You can try with vinegar, Borax or oven cleaner (lye) too.

H96669 01-28-2013 11:29 AM

Had some good results with KrudKutter. The one that says "a must for rust",prediluted in the spray bottle does have phosphoric acid in it but also the grease/dirt cutting agents. The "Original" KrudKutter doesn't have the phosphoric acid in it.

You can also buy Krudkutter "must for rust" on its own, that's phosphoric acid but no degreaser/cleaners and I haven't tried it yet. I was thinking of mixing it with the "Original" to approximate the other one but understand that any phosphoric acids at higher concentrations may stain/blacken the aluminium in some blotchy way you may not like.

Impossible to find in Canada anyway all of them KrudKutter products.

Lets see what you have to deal with, I might just tell you to buy Rub'n'Buff Silver Leaf, the cheap and very easy way to apply a wax/pigment coating to even out aluminium. Works well and as it is a wax product will prevent further oxidations.

Stan_R80/7 01-28-2013 11:34 AM

Try a scotch-brite pad with WD-40.

gsweave 01-28-2013 01:35 PM


Originally Posted by Stan_R80/7 (Post 20594424)
Try a scotch-brite pad with WD-40.


Kerosene works as well as wd40.

Harsh chems like acids/oven cleaner, may work but many will etch and or eat thru alum if left on too long....

Do a test area before commiting

BK 01-28-2013 01:54 PM

I used to fly model airplanes and the heads would get varnished due to the two-stroke oil.

I cleaned them by letting them soak for a day or two in a crock-pot full of antifreeze. I don't remember the temp setting, but they don't get that hot anyway. Did a great job of getting all the dirt, etc. out of the crevices.

Vankaye 01-28-2013 02:23 PM

Dunno how dull you are willing to go but I have made some beat-up neglected aluminium parts look pretty new with an HarborFreight Soda Blaster. It's not chome/polished but it's not pitted like other blast media.

Blast and rinse. Couldn't be easier.

Warning. DO NOT BLAST INSIDE YOUR GARAGE (or outside with the garage door open) You will want to hose off everything within 20-30ft of your blast zone.

This is not me but it is an inmate here: (actually, I didn't take a picture of my garage when I did it right in front of the open door... but when I turned around after a good hour of blasting a table full of parts this is pretty much what I saw!)

HapHazard 01-28-2013 02:26 PM

I use red Scotchbrite to give a nice "brushed" finish (or as a step toward a polished surface).
But if you just want to clean the aluminum oxide off, I've used a product called "Coil-Brite-A", which is designed to clean the coils in A/C units.
Here's B4:

I sprayed it on lightly, then scrubbed with a nylon brush, then wiped it off with a damp rag.
Then after:

I just did the fins on the head.

Another thing to try is one of the citrus-based cleaners - I've used them, but the coil cleaner worked better for me on aluminum oxide.

What izzit your trying to clean? (We like pictures here:D).

rodsbrick 01-29-2013 05:58 PM

Cleaning aluminum
I'm with the acid guys. Autobody metal prep (phosphoric acid in H2O solution) is formulated to remove oxidation without eating the base material. I have cleaned and restored many old and seized SU carb sets using a metal prep bath. Degrease first then soak the surface to be cleaned - time works best to get all the oxidation off but you could substitute some brushing with a nylon brush for a dunking if the parts are too big. Wear safety goggles and watch the clothes. It will eat denim and burn skin.
A hot water rinse works best. Works well even on old airhead engine cases!

fiep 01-29-2013 06:08 PM


Originally Posted by H96669 (Post 20594385)
Lets see what you have to deal with,...

just an example

HapHazard 01-29-2013 06:15 PM

I think the Scotchbrite would be the way to go - give you a nice clean brushed finish.

H96669 01-29-2013 07:05 PM

Get a buffer and a can of medium polishing compound. You may want to wetsand first at 800-1000x.

Just did a little of that today with my friend's polishing wheel, old Triumph parts....shiny shiny!:wink:

Pike Bishop 01-30-2013 02:50 AM

Aluminum oxide re-forms on exposed aluminum almost as fast as you remove it.

What are you trying to do?

fiep 01-30-2013 04:50 AM


Originally Posted by H96669 (Post 20606042)
....shiny shiny!:wink:

no, please
NOT shiny

as nice matte a surface as is now,
just not dirty anymore
any scotch brite, steel wool ... will polish and make it shine
don't want shine

bomber60015 01-30-2013 08:42 AM

nuther vote for soda blasting . . . . . damn near any other mechanical process will remove material in a linear manner, leaving either a wseries of scratches, or, the horror, a polished surface ;-}

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