How to Clean Antique Pressed Aluminum Trays

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Things You'll Need

  • Rubber gloves

  • Large pot

  • 8 tablespoons cream of tartar

  • 2 cups of vinegar or lemon juice

  • Mild dish soap

  • Sponge with scrubbing side

  • Dish towel

  • Metal polish

  • Polishing rag

Pressed aluminum trays can be restored with homemade cleaners.

Antique pressed aluminum loses its shine and darkens with age. A tray that hasn't been used in years may even appear black. However, there's no reason to get rid of tarnished or dirty aluminum. Uniquely designed antique pressed trays are perfect for serving desserts or appetizers to guests and can be restored to look like new inexpensively with homemade cleaning products. Most aluminum cleaners are acidic so be sure to protect your skin when restoring your trays.

Step 1

Put on rubber gloves. Fill a large pot with about 1 gallon of water, 8 tablespoons of cream of tartar, and 2 cups of vinegar or lemon juice. Bring the mixture to a boil.

Step 2

Plug your sink and pour the mixture into the sink. Soak your aluminum trays in this aluminum cleaner for about 10 minutes.

Step 3

Drain your sink and fill it with hot water. Add a mild dish soap.

Step 4

Soak your aluminum trays in hot soapy water for several minutes. Use the scrubbing side of a sponge to lightly brush and polish the trays.

Step 5

Dry your trays softly with a dish towel. Apply a metal polish to shine them up.


Do not use anything rough like steel wool to clean aluminum because it can make scratches.


Marianne Luke

Marianne Luke has been writing professionally since 2005. She has experience writing instruction manuals, research, fiction, nonfiction and poetry, and she also reviews Orlando local music for "Orange Ave Lab" magazine. Luke earned a Bachelor of Arts in technical communications and creative writing from the University of Central Florida in 2010.