Clean aluminum trailer

How to Clean an Aluminum Trailer

The proper use and appropriate maintenance of your utility or hauling trailer are undoubtedly topics close to our hearts—and driveways. Whether you’re hitching up those car haulers for a weekend ride, polishing your enclosed cargo trailer for a flashy entrance or tending to your trusty cattle trailer for the next livestock adventure, we’ve got the lowdown on how to keep those rigs clean and gleaming.

In this guide, we’ll focus on one of the unsung heroes of our hauling escapades—aluminum trailers. Made from high-quality aluminum, these trailers offer superior strength and corrosion resistance while being significantly lighter than traditional steel trailers. But cleaning and maintaining them comes with its own set of  rules.

So, grab your scrubbing brushes and let’s get these aluminum trailers looking as fine as a Southern sunset!

Gather Your Supplies:

Before you start, round up your gear. You’ll need a bucket, mild detergent, a soft brush or sponge, a hose and a good microfiber cloth or chamois for drying. Avoid harsh chemicals. You want to pamper that aluminum—not strip it down.

Rinse Away the Grit:

Begin by giving your trailer a good rinse with plain water. Get rid of that surface dust and dirt, making way for the deep clean.

Suds It Up:

Mix a bit of mild detergent with water in your trusty bucket. Use your soft brush or sponge to apply the soapy mixture all over. Pay extra attention to the nooks and crannies where dirt likes to hide.


Gently scrub your aluminum trailer. No need to be overly aggressive—a soft touch is the way to go. For those stubborn spots, let the soapy water soak for a bit before giving it another pass.

Rinse, Rinse, Rinse:

Hose down the whole trailer top-to-bottom, making sure to wash away all the soap residue. Leftover soap can do more harm than good, and you also don’t want any streaks ruining that shine.

Dry It Off:

Always use a microfiber cloth or chamois to dry your aluminum trailer. Air-drying might leave spots—and we want that beauty gleaming in the sun.

Preservation Tips:

Avoid Harsh Chemicals:

Stay away from harsh chemicals like bleach or ammonia. These can tarnish and corrode aluminum surprisingly quickly.

Regular Waxing:

Give your trailer a good waxing every few months. A good wax job acts like a shield and protects against the elements while keeping the aluminum looking like new.

Mind the Road Salt:

If you’ve been trekking through winter roads, wash off that road salt pronto. Salt can be a trailer’s worst enemy. To mitigate the impact of road salt on aluminum trailer corrosion, it’s essential to pay close attention to areas where salt residue can accumulate. Applying protective coatings or sealants designed for aluminum can also provide an additional barrier against corrosive elements like road salt.

How to Clean Oxidized Aluminum 

Now, let’s talk about tackling the pesky issue of oxidized aluminum, which can turn your once-shiny trailer into a dull sight. Oxidation occurs when aluminum reacts with the elements, leaving a layer of corrosion that is not only an eyesore but could also eventually lead to weakening of the trailer’s components if left unchecked. 

Start with a Good Wash:

Before you combat oxidation head-on, give your aluminum trailer a thorough wash using a mild detergent and water. This helps remove the initial layer of dirt and grime and helps reveal the extent of the oxidation.

Vinegar Magic:

When using vinegar to tackle oxidized aluminum, you can create a solution with a 1:1 ratio of white vinegar to water. This equal parts mixture provides an effective balance for breaking down oxidation without being too abrasive or causing harm to the aluminum surface.

In other words, if you use one cup of white vinegar, mix it with one cup of water. This solution harnesses the mild acidity of vinegar to help dissolve and remove oxidation from the aluminum—restoring its shine.

Remember to apply the vinegar and water solution with a soft cloth or sponge and always follow up with a thorough rinse and polishing step to protect the aluminum and achieve the desired results.

Baking Soda Scrub:

The ideal ratio for this scrub is to combine equal parts of baking soda and water. This balanced mixture creates a paste with mild abrasiveness, effective in lifting oxidation without being too harsh on the aluminum surface. To put it simply, if you use one tablespoon of baking soda, pair it with one tablespoon of water. Adjust the quantities based on the size of the area you need to treat, ensuring a consistent and workable paste. This ratio strikes the right balance for gently scrubbing away oxidation without causing damage to the aluminum. For those stubborn spots, gently rub this baking soda paste into the oxidized areas using a soft brush or cloth. The mild abrasiveness of baking soda helps lift the corrosion.

Aluminum Polish:

Invest in a quality aluminum polish—your secret weapon. Apply the polish according to the product instructions using a clean cloth. This step not only removes any remaining oxidation but also adds a protective layer to prevent future corrosion.

Buff, Buff, Buff:

Put your elbow grease to work and buff the aluminum with a clean, dry cloth. This final step is crucial for achieving that mirror-like shine we all want in our aluminum trailers.

Seal the Deal:

To keep oxidation at bay, consider applying a coat of clear automotive wax or a specialized aluminum sealer. This acts as a shield, protecting your trailer from the elements and prolonging that newly restored shine.

Remember, patience is a virtue, and tackling oxidized aluminum may take a bit of time and effort. But with a dash of grit and the right tools, your trailer will be turning heads on the roads once again. Happy polishing!


As we wrap up this journey to revive the gleam of your aluminum trailers, remember that maintaining their shine is a labor of love. The key lies in a good, consistent cleaning routine. From gentle washes to tackling oxidation with vinegar and baking soda scrubs, each step plays a huge part in preserving the beauty of your hauling companion. So, don’t shy away from a little elbow grease and a touch of grit. Your aluminum trailer will thank you with a shine that makes you stand out on the road. Happy trails, y’all!

Legal Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is for general guidance purposes only. It is not intended as legal, safety, professional advice, or replacement for product manuals. Readers are advised to consult relevant authorities, manufacturers’ guidelines, and seek professional assistance for their specific circumstances and vehicles. The author and publisher disclaim any liability for actions taken based on the contents of this article.