Is Aluminum in Dishwasher Toxic? (Foil Hack Included!)

aluminum in dishwasher toxic

If you have ever washed aluminum cookware in a dishwasher, then you know it changes color and looks unattractive. But does that make it toxic? Is it dangerous to continue cooking with that aluminum cookware?

In this article, we’ll answer this question in detail and explain in simple terms why your aluminum changes that much after going through a dishwasher.

We will also teach simple methods of cleaning aluminum cookware safely and how to take care of them.

Is Aluminum in Dishwasher Toxic?

No, it isn’t. Washing your aluminum cookware in a dishwasher does not pose any health risk to you. It doesn’t make your cookware or the dishwasher itself toxic.

People often get the feeling that aluminum cookware becomes toxic when washed in a dishwasher because it becomes discolored. But this is far from the truth.

Aluminum cookware becomes black or has white spots all over them when washed in a dishwasher because of the hot water in the dishwasher and the kind of detergent it uses.

Dishwasher detergents have chlorine and are high in alkaline so they corrode the aluminum by oxidizing it This is more like removing the protective layer of the aluminum.

This may make your aluminum cookware black, spotted, and ugly, but it is still safe to use.

The protective layer removed just means your aluminum is more prone to corrosion. And this discoloration can even be fixed, so it’s not an issue.

You just need to ensure you don’t put the aluminum into the dishwasher again.

Things That Dishwasher Does to Your Aluminum Cookware

1- Dulls the Cookware

Dishwashers make your aluminum cookware look dark and dull because the dishwasher detergent eats into the surface. It looks like there’s a haze on the cookware covering its bright and shiny finish.

Your aluminum may appear to be dull grey. While this may not affect its function, you won’t like the state of your cookware, especially if it’s new.

2- Removes Its Anodized Finishing

Aluminum reacts with other substances when in contact, so to avoid this aluminum cookware gets anodized.

This is a series of baths that makes the aluminum surface hard, coated in a protective oxide, corrosion-resistant, and durable. This means there’s less chance of aluminum leaching into your food or your cookware corroding.

Putting your aluminum cookware in a dishwasher changes this. The anodized layer is slowly removed over time and your cookware is more likely to corrode.

If the aluminum isn’t previously anodized, the corrosion happens faster.

3- Makes it Sticky

Anodized aluminum cookware is known to be non-ticky. When put into the dishwasher and this protective layer is tampered with, the cookware becomes sticky and this makes cooking and frying difficult.

4- Get Discolored

The dishwasher will not only dull the finish of your aluminum cookware, but sometimes it blackens them or put white spots on them which can be tough to get rid of.

These white spots appear powdery and may get into your food as you cook. It may even affect the taste of the food.

Are There Other Causes of Aluminum Discoloration than a Dishwasher?

Yes, there are. So even if you don’t wash your aluminum cookware in the dishwasher, it could still get discolored unless you are careful. Let’s take a look at some of the other causes so you can avoid them.

1- Hard Water

Because of its high mineral content, hard water can discolor your aluminum if left inside for a long time or allowed to dry in it.

Hard water has a high content of calcium and magnesium which can leave white chalky spots on your aluminum cookware.

You can avoid this by drying your aluminum with a towel after cleaning and ensuring water isn’t left inside it for a long time. Don’t soak your aluminum cookware if you are not sure of the nature of the water being used.

2- Storage

If the aluminum is non-anodized, it is prone to scratches, corrosion, and reactions. So if stored for a long time, or with other cookware, it could oxidize and get discolored.

3- Alkaline Foods

Foods high in alkali and acid, like some fruits, vegetables, and diaries can cause aluminum to discolor when cooked.

The aluminum reacts to these foods and begins to leach into them. This means the coating on the aluminum also wears off and oxidation occurs. So avoid cooking these types of foods in your aluminum cookware, and you’ll be fine.

Safest Ways to Clean Aluminum

We have said dishwashers are a no-no for aluminum and some dish detergents contain materials that are not so good for our aluminum cookware.

How do we clean them then? Below are simple ways of doing that without causing damage or discoloring them.

Method 1: Using Dish Soap & Lemon

Liquid dish soaps are good for cleaning aluminum and will not discolor them.

YOU’LL NEED

1- Lemon juice
2- Dish soap
3- Sponge
4- Wooden spatula
5- Water

STEPS

STEP 1: After using your aluminum cookware, let it cool. Don’t wash it while it’s still hot. After letting it cool, pour some water inside and add some drops of liquid soap. Just enough to get the water to foam.

STEP 2: Allow the warm soapy water to sit in the aluminum for like 5 minutes. This will break down the grease and get stuck-on food to dislodge easily.

STEP 3: Wash the aluminum with a soft sponge, in and out. Don’t use abrasives as this can damage your aluminum cookware.

STEP 4: Use a wooden spatula to scrape off foods that are still stuck on the aluminum. Using a metal or iron one can scratch your aluminum so avoid this.

STEP 5: Pour the now dirty soapy water away. If the aluminum is all clean and shiny, just rinse it with water and dry it with a towel. But if you spot some discoloration, burnt marks, or stains, proceed to the remaining steps.

STEP 6: Make a lemon solution. To get this solution, add 2 tablespoons of lemon juice to every quart of water and pour it into your aluminum.

STEP 7: Bring the solution to a boil and turn off the heat. Some color would have returned to your aluminum as it boils and loses its discoloration.

STEP 8: After it cools down, pour the solution away and wash your aluminum with some soap and water. Rinse and dry.

Method 2: Using Baking Soda & Vinegar

This method is for very dirty aluminum cookware with extensive discoloration and burn marks.

YOU’LL NEED

1- Baking soda
2- Vinegar
3- Water
4- Sponge
5- Dish soap
6- Towel

STEPS

STEP 1: Make a baking soda paste by adding some vinegar to the baking soda powder. Make it a thick paste.

STEP 2: Spread the baking soda paste on the aluminum and let it sit for about 30 minutes. You can let it sit for longer than that if you think it’s needed.

STEP 3: Use a damp sponge to scrub the aluminum, rubbing the paste against its surface. Do this until you have scrubbed the whole surface.

STEP 4: Rinse the aluminum with clean water and repeat the process if there are still discolorations or stains in some areas.

STEP 5: After rinsing, use warm soapy water and a soft sponge to wash the aluminum. Then rinse with clean water.

STEP 6: Dry the aluminum with a soft towel and store it appropriately.

Aluminum Foil in Dishwasher for Water Stains

Using aluminum foil in your dishwasher is the end to cutlery tarnish. Dishwashers work hard to clean our dishes and cutleries but over time we notice our shiny cutleries begin to dull and lose their sparkle.

This doesn’t make them dirty, they just look worn. But all of these can be solved with aluminum foil. This is a great back that would leave you speechless at the results.

1- Crumple aluminum foil into a ball and put it into the cutlery compartment of your dishwasher.

2- Add your dishwasher detergent and run your dishwasher like you usually do. You don’t need to do anything extra for this to work.

When it’s done, check your cutleries for the results, you’ll be amazed at the difference you’ll notice.

The aluminum foil itself is not the magic wand, but the baking soda in the dishwasher detergent reacts with the foil and creates a chemical reaction that helps to clean your cutleries better.

Aluminum Safe Dishwasher Detergent

We have discussed several reasons why aluminum shouldn’t be washed in a dishwasher.

But if you prefer dishwashing to other methods, there are less harsh dishwasher detergents, that you can use. Let’s see two of them.

1- Seventh Generation Dishwasher Detergent Powder

This dishwasher is 95% plant-based so it’s all-natural and without harsh chemicals that can harm your aluminum cookware.

To ensure its safety, it has no fragrance, no dye, and most importantly, no chlorine bleach. And this dishwasher detergent is not only good for aluminum cookware but all types.

You can easily get it on Amazon or other online stores of your choice.

2- Better Life Dishwasher Gel

Like the seventh-generation dishwasher, it is also plant-based and natural. It is in form of liquid gel though and not powder.

It is soft, gentle, and works fast in getting rid of grease and grime. It contains natural cleaning agents like coconut and corn and it is scent-free. It has no harsh chemicals that can damage or corrode your aluminum.

Even though handwashing your aluminum cookware is still the best option, these dishwasher detergents will treat your aluminum well.

Can You Put Aluminum Baking Trays in the Dishwasher?

No, you can’t. Even if the baking trays are anodized, the hot water and harsh detergent in the dishwasher can break them down over time and damage your trays. Other cookware in the dishwasher can also nick your baking trays here and there, reducing the durability of their coating.

If you think your aluminum baking trays are well anodized though and very durable, and there’s no chance of the coating wearing off, no problem. But better safe than sorry.

If the aluminum baking trays are not anodized, don’t even try putting them in a dishwasher. They will turn black, dull, ugly, and corrode. They will still be safe to use, but you won’t like their sight.

Final Thoughts!

You can use your aluminum cookware for many years without it corroding, becoming dull, or changing color. You just have to know how to care for it well and we have talked about this in detail in the article.

The cleaning methods explained are easy and explained in simple steps. The cleaning materials needed are also easy to get.

Although dishwasher detergents are too harsh for aluminum cookware, there are less harsh ones that you can opt for if you love washing with dishwashers. These soaps are soft, gentle, and very effective.

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