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Aluminum and dishwashers; just say no

Reader Michael asks:

I have a pre-1968 Revere ware percolator and the inside of the grounds basket is black. Ive noticed this on a lot of revere ware percolators for sale. Is this normal? Is that pump assembly not stainless steel?

I was a bachelor for quite some time before getting married and having kids, and I learned a lot of domestic tricks during that time.  One of them was to never put anything aluminum in the dishwasher.  If you do, you will be sorely disappointed.  The basket assembly on the Revere Ware percolators is indeed aluminum.
The high temperatures and harsh chemicals of the dishwasher (see our recent article on drinking glasses) cause the aluminum to oxidize, coating it with very unattractive black layer. Here is a poor guy from Reddit who put is Bialetti espresso maker in the dishwasher.
As it is explained there:
This is caused by a chemical reaction between the soap and the aluminum producing Hydrogen. The reaction is exacerbated by the lack of phosphates in the detergent, high temperature water, and long soak time in the dishwasher.
So what do you do if you’ve made the mistake of putting a prized aluminum piece in the dishwasher?  I’ve always used something like a green Scotch Brite pad to physically scrub the oxidation off.  If you have a piece that used to be shiny, this will definitely dull the shine, which you can try to restore using Bar Keepers Friend.
I found this blog post that suggests using vinegar to remove the black layer, but I haven’t tried it (because I no longer put my aluminum in the dishwasher ha ha); they also have some other useful suggestions.
The best tip though is to just avoid putting aluminum in the dishwasher.
Oh, and wooden items too; they will swell up and won’t be the same ever again.


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