How to Clean Aluminum ramps

How to Clean Aluminum Ramps

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Cleaning Untreated Aluminum Ramps

Aluminum is a light but strong material common for outdoor and commercial applications because of its weather-resistant properties; aluminum doesn’t rust because it forms a natural oxide layer. Oxidation is a confusing process because it is a form of corrosion. Still, unlike oxidation that occurs on other metals, it does not jeopardize the structural integrity of the aluminum – it strengthens the material. Oxidation creates a protective barrier against water and rust, but it can make the aluminum less attractive over time. Cleaning the ramp will decrease the chances of severe oxidation.

Step 1: The first step is to ensure all debris, including mud, dust, and leaves, is cleared off the ramp. To do this, you must start at the top of the ramp with a stiff-bristled push-broom and sweep all the debris down the ramp; the edge guards that run along both edges of the ramp prevent the debris from being pushed over the sides. The stiff-bristled push-broom is recommended to clean out the grooves of the ramp, but don’t try to scrub the ramp with the broom as it might scratch the aluminum.

Step 2: After brushing off the aluminum ramp, rinse it with water and a mild detergent such as dish soap. Use a generous amount of dish soap over the length of the ramp, and put a concentrated amount on tough spots. Let it sit for a couple of minutes. Next, hose off or lightly pressure wash the ramp to remove the soap and dirt. If possible, it is suggested to use filtered water because unfiltered water may contain sulfur, chlorine, fluoride, and other minerals that could damage the aluminum over time. Ensure all dish soap is washed off before the wheelchair ramp is used.

Step 3: If there is dirt on the ramp still, use a towel and dish soap to scrub the area. Do not use steel wool or scouring pads because these materials can scratch the aluminum and give it a dull appearance. Do not use harsh cleaners like baking soda or alkali-based cleaners, as these can cause discoloration. If you want to try a new type of cleaner, test an area on the underside of the ramp to see if it discolors the aluminum.

Step 4: If the wheelchair ramp has already oxidized, try spot-treating the oxidized areas with an aluminum cleaner like Aluma Kleen or Aluma Bright (not sponsored links).

Cleaning Powder-Coated Aluminum Ramps

If the aluminum wheelchair ramp is powder-coated, there is less chance of oxidation because the powder-coating provides an extra layer of defense. However, it is possible for the layer to be breached and form oxidation spots. Most cleaning steps are the same as non-powder-coated aluminum, but the powder-coating is a little more delicate than the aluminum.


Step 1: Brush off the ramp, moving from top to bottom, with a stiff-bristled push-broom. Do not try to scrub the wheelchair ramp with the broom, as it might scratch the aluminum.

Step 2: The most efficient way to clean outdoor aluminum ramps with a powder-coating finish is with a pressure washer using filtered water at low pressure. Use a mild detergent such as dish soap, and DO NOT use chlorine or harsh cleaning solutions. A high-water pressure and aggressive cleaning products can damage the powder-coated finish. The commercial cleaning solutions will clean the surface but remove micro-layers of finish. The coating might later become hard and crack while losing its protective barrier.

Step 3: As stated above, use a soft brush or cloth to clean the surface; do not use anything with stiff bristles or a scratchy pad.

Step 4: To keep powder-coated wheelchair ramps looking nice, try a high-grade, non-abrasive car wax that contains a U.V. blocker and/or U.V. inhibitors. Be sure to wipe off residual wax because it could bake in the heat and cause permanent staining. As with any other product applied to the ramp, making a test area on the underside of the ramp is recommended. 

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