The necessary precursor to a proper and durable finish is the preparation of the active aluminum surface to receive the desired protective finish that will allow it to have a long and attractive service life. This article helps those who work with aluminum in the many varieties of applications of such products. It describes the two main categories of cleaning that can be used with most any metal, namely, mechanical cleaning and chemical cleaning. The article provides a discussion on the laboratory evaluation of cleaners, field testing of cleaners, and cleaner types and procedures. It also describes the special cleaning procedures for aluminum alloys, such as steam cleaning and rotary wire-brush cleaning. The article reviews the use of temporary coatings and the use of maintenance coatings on aluminum. It provides information on the handling and storage procedures of aluminum alloys and the cleaning of specific applications of aluminum.