Shower door frames made from aluminum are prone to corrosion. Interestingly, the corrosion process, known as oxidation, naturally creates an additional unsightly thin aluminum oxide layer that actually protects the aluminum metal.
Corrosion happens when aluminum is exposed to hard water, soap scum, dirt or when the outer layer of the metal reacts with other environmental elements
In addition to the dull and unsightly appearance, the corrosion can result in structural damages like cracks/pits and all these will lead to weakening and breaking of the frames.
To restore corroded aluminum shower doors, first clean the doors using homemade cleaning solutions including vinegar, baking soda, or bleach. You can as well use commercial aluminum cleaners, restorers and brighteners.
Regular cleaning, painting and proper ventilation in your bathroom can keep the shower doors clean, shining and free of corrosion. Read on for details.
Cleaning off the extra film of dirt or mineral buildup is the first step to restoring the look of your shower door aluminum frames.
You can either clean your shower frames using regular household DIY solutions or commercial cleaners that are specifically meant for aluminum.
- Have your protective gear (gloves, goggles etc.) on since some cleaning solutions may be harmful to your bare skin and eyes
- Avoid using harsh chemicals or abrasive cleaners such as steel brushes; they may cause more damage to your shower frame.
- Do not use solvents that are too acidic since strong acidic solvents tend to eat into aluminum resulting in pitting. Dilute acidic cleaners with water for best results.
- Avoid using a high-pressure spray nozzle or a high-pressure cleaner.
- Do not use salty or hard water because it contains minerals that end up corroding the door.
For mild dirt, simply use water mixed with mild soap to clean the frames.
Aluminum Corrosion Removal Vinegar
White vinegar is effective in dissolving dirt, grease, and grime found on your shower door. Another advantage of using vinegar to clean a corroded aluminum shower door is that you most likely already have it on hand.
What you need
- Nylon bristle brush
- 4 cups warm water
- 4 cups white vinegar
- Fine steel wool
- Mix the water and vinegar in a bucket and stir well to make the mixture homogeneous.
- Apply the mixture on the shower door frame and use a nylon bristle brush to remove the oxidation spots.
- If there are still some parts with stubborn stains, use the fine steel wool and warm water to scrub them off.
- Rinse off with clean water.
Baking soda is an excellent method for removing mildew, calcium buildup, and grime from aluminum shower doors. Add lemon juice to a baking soda cleaner to make it even more effective.
Apart from being a natural disinfectant, lemon juice is also a great dirt remover. A baking soda solution has the advantage of reaching small areas and cracks.
What you need
- Mixing bowl
- Old toothbrush
- I cup baking soda
- Paper towel
- 2 cups lemon juice
- Mix baking soda and lemon juice in a bowl and stir to form a consistent paste.
- Apply the paste on the aluminum frames with an old toothbrush and let it dry.
- Rinse a paper towel in warm water and use it to wipe off the baking soda residue from the shower door frame.
Note: it is advisable to clean the baking soda as soon as it dries because it might hurt the aluminum.
Use bleach’s powerful cleaning properties to remove tough stains that appear impossible to remove.
Bleach is a common household cleaner because it kills germs, dissolves tough buildup, and is a cheap solvent. The combination of bleach and baking soda ensures that even the most stubborn stains are removed.
Wear rubber gloves to protect your skin when cleaning an anodized aluminum shower door with a bleach cleaner.
- Mixing bowls
- Rubber gloves
- 1 cup bleach
- ½ cup baking powder
- Mix the bleach and baking soda in a bowl and stir to form a thick paste.
- Apply the paste on the aluminum door using a sponge.
- Let it sit for about 5-10 minutes.
- Rinse the paste with clean water.
Muriatic acid can also be used to clean aluminum although it is not recommended for indoor use. This solvent is better used outdoors where there is plenty of natural ventilation.
- Other cleaning methods
Other than the use of baking soda, vinegar and bleach, there is also another method that can be used to clean corroded aluminum shower doors.
What you need
- Wire brush
- Silicon carbide sandpaper
- Piece of cloth
- Isopropyl alcohol
- Start by brushing away the deposited rust using a wire brush.
- Using the piece of cloth, wipe away the rust dust from the shower door.
- If the rust is not completely removed, use silicon carbide sandpaper to scrub the door gently. Avoid using so much force because you might end up ruining the aluminum.
- Soak the piece of cloth in Isopropyl alcohol and wipe the shower door frame to get rid of the sanding dust.
Aluminum Oxidation Cleaners & Restorers
There are quite a number of aluminum cleaners, shiners, and restorers on the market that easily clean out oxidation. Be sure to follow the instructions on the product
In almost all cases you need a microfiber cloth for buffing the products into the aluminum surfaces.
Following are some of our best picks.
AL-NEW Aluminum Restoration Cleaning Solution
This is one of the most popular aluminum oxidation cleaners in the market today. Al-new cleans and restores painted aluminum garage doors, window frames, entry doors, patio furniture, and more back to their original shine and luster.
It is quite is easy to use, all you need is to wipe this restoration solution on the surface with a microfiber cloth. Once dried, Al-new also leaves a coat of corrosion protection.
Schultz Metal Polish
This product removes impurities and discoloration while you polish and seals against damage. White Diamond not only cleans, polishes, removes light surface rust/ corrosion, but also seals the metal.
3D Metal Polish
D Metal Polish is a heavy-duty and multi-purpose product that can be used when you are looking to clean, restore, shine and protect your stained, oxidized, and dulled metal or aluminum surfaces. It is a safe product that you can use to restore frame rust stains and oxidation, in the bathroom
Dura-Coating Blue Premium Metal Polish
Like 3D polish, Dura-coating is yet another good multi-purpose metal polish that removes tarnish and restores a perfect luster to your metal items quickly and easily. It is mostly used for cars but it can also do a nice job on your shower door frames.
ProtectaClear Clear, Protective Coating for Metal
ProtectaClear has an impermeable protective coating that provides outstanding protection against damage caused by corrosion, salt water, salt air, acid rain, pollution, mildew, bleach, chlorine etc.
ProtectaClear also reduces maintenance and cleaning.
ProtectaClear features include;
- It is a self-leveling, fast drying, clear protective coating
- It is tough and durable but practically invisible.
- It’s a perfect solution for metals that are in outdoor/indoor pool areas and even in ocean environments.
After cleaning the frames remember to;
- Clean the glass surfaces using the appropriate cleaner or mild soap with water and a soft cloth or sponge.
- Use a soft cloth for drying to make sure all water is removed from the hinges, sealant, glass, and frame to prevent damage
- Lubricate the hardware on the aluminum doors.
Regular cleaning ensures that soap scum and mineral deposits do not accumulate on the shower door frames and cause oxidation. After cleaning, apply car wax on the shower door frame to prevent it from rusting.
Painting is one of the most effective ways of preventing metals such as aluminum from getting rust. Paint creates a shield between the metal and oxygen and moisture from the environment. This prevents moisture from reacting with metal thus preventing corrosion.
Other maintenance tips to keep them from corroding
- Ensure that there is proper ventilation in your bathroom. Poor bathroom ventilation will lead to oxidation of the aluminum shower frame thus leading to the formation of rust.
- Wipe the shower doors after every shower to prevent water buildup. Water is a key element in the rusting process. That means, if the shower door frames are wiped regularly then there are very low chances of them getting rust.
- Use a rust sealant on your shower door.
- Proper Design- For individuals planning to install aluminum shower doors in newly constructed bathrooms, ensure the overall design is flawless. Atmospheric corrosion may be exacerbated if the design does not allow for drainage of moisture.
- Opt for Anodized Aluminum Frames-Anodization is an electrochemical process that creates an aluminium oxide coat on the surface of aluminum products. This protects the product from wear and tear while improving the aesthetics.
- Avoid exposing your shower door frames to media that is highly acidic or alkaline.