Is Aluminum Toxic In A Dishwasher?

By Cory White
Is Aluminum Toxic In A Dishwasher?

Aluminum in a dishwasher isn’t toxic. However, aluminum cookware can suffer from discoloration and damage due to dishwasher use.

Read on to learn about how to safely clean your aluminum cookware.

Aluminum Cookware
Aluminum Cookware

1. Effects of a Dishwasher on Aluminum Cookware

Washing aluminum cookware in a dishwasher can lead to several potential changes that may affect its appearance and performance. Some of these changes include:

  • Dulling: The abrasive nature of dishwasher detergents can cause your aluminum cookware to lose its shine, making it look dull and worn.
  • Removal of anodized finish: Anodized aluminum cookware features a protective layer that can be stripped away during the dishwashing process, leading to a loss of durability and a higher likelihood of scratches and other damage.
  • Discoloration: Exposure to heat, water, and certain chemicals in dishwasher detergents can cause aluminum cookware to lose its original color and develop a dark, uneven hue.
  • Stickiness: When the protective coating or anodized finish is removed, aluminum cookware may become sticky, making it difficult to cook and clean.
Hard Water
Hard Water

2. Factors Causing Aluminum Discoloration

Apart from dishwasher use, there are other factors that can also contribute to the discoloration of aluminum cookware. These include:

Hard water

The minerals present in hard water, such as calcium and magnesium, can react with aluminum cookware, causing it to develop spots or a dull gray film over time.

Improper storage

Storing aluminum cookware in damp or humid conditions can lead to corrosion and discoloration. It is essential to store your cookware in a cool and dry place to avoid such issues.

Exposure to alkaline foods

Cooking with alkaline foods, such as leafy greens, tomato-based sauces, and certain beans, can cause a chemical reaction with the aluminum, resulting in discoloration. To minimize the risk, it’s advisable to use non-reactive, stainless steel cookware when preparing these types of dishes.

Dishwasher Detergent
Dishwasher Detergent

3. Aluminum-Safe Dishwashing Detergents

If you choose to wash your aluminum cookware in a dishwasher, consider using aluminum-safe dishwasher detergents. These specialized products can help reduce the risk of aluminum toxicity and damage.

Aluminum-safe detergents are formulated with milder ingredients that help prevent unnecessary damage to your cookware, such as scratching, dulling, or stripping away anodized finishes.

These dishwasher detergents usually have a balanced pH level, ensuring that they do not cause discoloration or corrosion due to excessive alkalinity or acidity.

Aluminum-safe detergents are designed to minimize the potential for hard water deposits, thereby reducing the likelihood of spotting or filming on your cookware.

Baking soda and vinegar
Baking soda and vinegar

4. Safe Cleaning Methods for Aluminum Cookware

For those looking to clean their aluminum cookware without using a dishwasher, there are alternative cleaning methods that can help maintain the cookware’s appearance and performance. Here are a couple of safe cleaning methods you can try:

Dish soap and lemon

Use a mild dish soap and warm water to wash your aluminum cookware. For stubborn stains or discoloration, rub the affected areas gently with a lemon wedge. The lemon juice’s natural acidity works to lift away stains, while its mild nature helps protect your cookware’s surface.

Baking soda and vinegar

Create a cleaning paste by combining equal parts baking soda and water. Apply the paste to your cookware and let it sit for a few minutes. Then, rinse it thoroughly with warm water. For extra cleansing power, follow up with a splash of white vinegar, which will react with the baking soda residue to eliminate stubborn stains and grime.


In conclusion, while aluminum cookware isn’t toxic in a dishwasher, it can suffer from discoloration, damage, and decreased performance due to exposure to harsh conditions present during the dishwashing process. 

To minimize these effects and ensure the longevity of your cookware, I recommend you use aluminum-safe dishwashing detergents, and consider utilizing alternative cleaning methods such as dish soap with lemon or a mixture of baking soda and vinegar. 

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