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Cleaning Aluminium

Aluminium is now by far the most common material used in exterior construction features such as shop fronts, curtain walls, window frames and doors. This is due to its many enduring features, which allow architects to use the metal in so many varied and contrasting ways. Aluminium has a natural beauty and lustre and its surface can be treated in various ways to produce differing effects i.e. anodising, painting etc.
But if Aluminium is not kept in good condition by regular maintenance its surface finish can become spoiled over time. Usually this maintenance is no more than periodic cleaning. A fact which is often overlooked..

It is difficult to prevent dirt and grime from settling on exposed Aluminium surfaces but if cleaned reasonably frequently then only the mildest methods of washing will be needed to produce satisfactory results.

There are many ways to clean Aluminium, from using plain water to harsh abrasives and the type of cleaning that should be used is governed by the finish, degree of soiling, and the size, shape and location of the surface to be cleaned.

The following cleaning materials and procedures are listed in ascending order. When cleaning Aluminium you should start with the mildest method possible on a small portion of the object and progress to the harsher methods only if necessary. The first two can also be used to clean anodised Aluminium.

· Plain water
· Mild soap or detergent
· Solvent cleaning, e.g. kerosene, turpentine, white spirit
· Non-etching chemical cleaner
· Wax-base polish cleaner
· Abrasive wax
· Abrasive cleaner

After applying the cleaner, Aluminium should be washed down thoroughly with water and dried with a clean cloth. Try not to allow concentration of the cleaner at the bottom edges of the Aluminium.

If using proprietary cleaners the maker's recommendation should be obtained and followed carefully.

If abrasives are used then the appearance of the Aluminium finish may be altered. If there is a grain in the finish then cleaning should always be with the grain.
Regular cleaning of the surface with the correct materials will ensure an everlasting product.

The Aluminium oxide that forms on the surface of Aluminium is a self protecting surface and removal of this allows more to form, in extreme cases of heavy regular abrasive cleaning, the Aluminium will get thinner.

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