I recently purchased a polished aluminum "boat" vase, intended as a centerpiece to hold cut flower heads. After a single use (hydrangeas), the aluminum is stained, and I cannot remove the stain.

Abrasives are out because of the softness of the metal, and the web-recommended 1:1 diluted vinegar had no effect.

Anyone have suggestions on what to try next? (Maybe this question belongs on the Chemistry site? :-)

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  • Hi, Welcome to Lifehacks. Try the vinegar again after wiping the area with alcohol (on a soft cotton ball) to remove any residue from the plant that might not allow water-based acid bath from contacting the metallic surface. Ketchup and Coca Cola are also strong acids, both good at removing stains on inorganic material surfaces. Good Luck
    – Stan
    May 15 at 14:47
  • back when we had trucks with aluminum wheels, we used a product called blue magic, I think it was more a wax then a polish, but they cleaned up nice and shiny by hand.
    – Jon
    Jun 2 at 0:45

2 Answers 2


This is an appropriate SE, in my opinion. The softness of the aluminum should not be a factor, if appropriate abrasive systems are used. One starts with an abrasive grade appropriate to the worst of the scratches, despite the fact that the entire surface will be slightly eroded in the process. For localized areas, restrict the application of the abrasive as much as possible to only the affected area.

Progressing through the grits to the finest particle size will create the goal you seek. I have polished an aluminum velomobile which was badly damaged by chlorine spray. It required that I start with ScotchBrite™ abrasive pads to remove the worst of it, followed by three additionally finer grits. The end result was a mirror finish, no exaggeration.

With a softer alloy of aluminum, you'd possibly want to begin with the finest grit.

In place of, or in addition to, the grit/slurry method, consider that MicroMesh™ will provide the desired results. The typical abrasive pad is a few centimeters square and has also graduated grit levels. They are used with a water bath, to minimize scratching and to slough away the removed material. I have used these to polish 3D printed objects, also to a near-mirror shine. In the process, one of my fingernails acquired a surface shine to rival that of a high-end salon, but using water, MicroMesh™ and elbow grease alone.

  • The aluminum is very soft, it may be pure Al. A standard kitchen sponge with plastic fiber scrubbing side visibly marred the finish with only moderate pressure. May 15 at 1:10
  • Those scrubber pads are quite abrasive. You can use a light toothpaste or dedicated metal polish for aluminum and not experience as much damage. If you can tolerate a bit of frustration, start at the finest level, which may result in no improvement and work upwards, rather than the usual heavier to lighter progression.
    – fred_dot_u
    May 15 at 13:35
  • "A standard kitchen pad." I don't think there is a standard, apart from the labeling. I have used some that I thought were fairly mild, but scratched through the glaze of a coffee mug, which developed non-removable stains in the scratches. May 15 at 16:48

There is a product called Mother's Mag And Aluminum Polish which is sold in hardware and auto supply stores which is very effective.

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