How to Remove Rust From Aluminum

Aluminum doesn’t rust, but it can get stained with rust from steel hardware or attachments, such as wheel bolts or mounting screws. Rust stains on aluminum can be removed with acidic, oxygenating or organic cleaners, or with fine abrasives like steel wool. The following steps will instruct you on how to remove rust stain from aluminum without damaging it.

Start by trying a commercial rust remover product such as Whink, CLR, naval jelly, Rust-Oxy or an organic rust remover. Apply with a cloth or a nylon scrubbing pad, rubbing to remove rust stains. These products are best for polished aluminum surfaces because they don’t contain abrasives.

Use steel wool for really stubborn rust stains. Use grade four-zero to six-zero (very fine) to rub out rust stains, then wash off residue with water or mild detergent and water. Steel wool can also be used to remove the white powder that forms from oxidation of aluminum.

Try a method for light rust stains that appears in many Internet sources. Ball up a piece of aluminum foil about eight inches square, with the shiny side out. Rub the foil ball over rust spots to remove surface rust.


  • Test any rust remover product or method on a small area first, especially on painted aluminum, in case the product leaves stains or damages the surface.

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