Cleaning Aluminum Window Frames

If painted, use a solution of mild detergent and water, or a mild commercial cleaner whose label says it is safe for painted surfaces. Always rinse off solution. Wipe off excess water with a dry cloth. Do not use strong cleaners or scouring powder as these will damage the paint. If you plan to clean window frames, do it before cleaning window glass so solution does not spot glass panes.

Clear or colored anodized aluminum resists weathering, and can be washed with mild detergent and water like painted frames. Solvent cleaners can be used to remove grease spots from anodized frames. Never use abrasives on either anodized or painted surfaces as they will scratch it.

Bare, unfinished aluminum gradually weathers and turns gray. It forms its own oxide coating which protects it. (A coat of clear lacquer will prevent this.) In early stages of weathering, washing with soap and water will restore brightness. If you want to restore brightness when it has weathered more, stronger cleaners or mild abrasives will be needed. Test any new cleaner on a hidden spot to be sure it will work satisfactorily.

Do not clean aluminum if it is too hot to touch, or if temperature is below 50 F. Always remove all traces of cleaner thoroughly, with water-rinsing, or, if a solvent/wax type by wiping. Avoid excessive use of abrasives which leaves permanent scratches. Badly-weathered window frames may be washed with soap and water, rinsed thoroughly, and painted.

The Author:

Anne Field, Extension Specialist, with credit to MSU Extension

3 Responses

  1. I appreciate your tip to clean aluminum window frames before you clean the window glass. I remember not doing that and I had to clean the window glass two separate times! I also like what you said about bare, unfinished aluminum windows weathering and turning grey over time, I didn’t realize that happened!

  2. I didn’t realize you should only clean aluminum if it was above 50 degrees Fahrenheit and cool enough to touch. My Sister has been thinking of replacing her windows and getting aluminum frames with the new ones. She will love to see how much information you give here about how to clean it in various situations and with different types of coating. I would imagine the company installing them would be best able to advise her on what should or should not be used on her specific frames, since they would know what coatings had been used. When she picks a company I’ll have her ask about this.

  3. This is some great information, and I appreciate your point that you can paint your aluminum window frames if they’re weathered. My wife and I moved into a different house, and the windows have old frames. We wanted do some touch-ups, but we weren’t sure if you could paint aluminum. We’ll definitely look into washing them thoroughly before we start that process. Thanks for the great post!

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