The Best Way To Clean Your Aluminum Pans

Aluminum cookware offers a lot of benefits. It's affordable, lightweight, and easier to care for than some of the more finicky types of cookware (looking at you, cast iron). However, aluminum cookware does tend to discolor after a while, especially after incorrect use. While discoloration isn't always a sign that it's unsafe to use or ruined, if the discoloration is accompanied by build-up or grime, you'll want to give that pan a deep clean ASAP.

Luckily, cleaning aluminum pans is easy. To scrub away discoloration, you have a few all-natural cleaning options. First, try baking soda. After letting your pan soak in mild dish soap for a bit, give it a scrub with a non-abrasive brush and a baking soda-and-water paste. You can also try boiling salt water in the pan, letting the pan cool, then using the cooled salt water mixture to scrub the pan with a gentle cleaning brush. Additionally, you can try a lemon juice and water or vinegar and water mixture, bringing either to a boil before cooling the pan, rinsing it, and wiping it clean.

Why did your aluminum pans turn black?

If you want to take a preventative rather than a reactive approach, you need to think back to what could've caused your aluminum pans to turn black or become otherwise discolored in the first place. There are many potential culprits and simply cooking certain foods in your aluminum cookware could be causing the discoloration.

Keep your aluminum pans away from the dishwasher because of potential reactions with the dish detergent's harsh chemicals and/or minerals in the water. Also, don't use your aluminum pans for cooking at a high heat, as this causes discoloration, too. As for cooking certain ingredients in your aluminum pans, acidic foods, such as tomatoes and tomato products, vinegar, and citrus, are particularly damaging. Salty foods can also cause your aluminum pans to deteriorate if left for an extended time. Once you've determined what bad habit could be discoloring your pans, you can nip it in the bud and keep your cookware looking cleaner for longer.