What’s he best cheapest way to clean an aluminum horse trailer. Mine has lost it’s luster and shine?
Nothing to do with horses is cheap. This may not cost a lot from your pocket book, but it will cost in elbow grease.
First wash the trailer as you would your car or truck, scrub and rinse thoroughly.
The next step is to polish the metal. There are three different types of cleaners you can use for aluminum. All of the following cleaners are applied with one rag, and rubbed in, and then polished (buffed) with a different clean, dry, soft, cotton cloth before the chemical dries.
i) Paste type metal polishes. Which would be far to consuming for an entire trailer, however it will offer a much more aggressive polish than the next two types. This is good for areas that have heavy oxidation (near the wheels where salt water splashes up). The finish is usually very good, however it is no more resilient to subsequent marking and soiling.
ii) Foaming type generic metal polishes. These work well, however I find when buffing the metal, there is an over abundance of residue left from the cleaner. My polishing rag quickly becomes saturated with residue, rendering it useless. The finish is excellent, and can be buffed to a very shiny surface. The finish is very resistant to subsequent marking.
iii) Trigger spray liquid polishes. Usually bluish or creamy in color, these cleaners do an effective job of cleaning, and when buffed do not leave excessive residue in your polishing rag. The finish is excellent, and can also be buffed to a very shiny surface. The finish is very resistant to subsequent marking. This is my preference.
I would look for these chemicals at a janitorial supplier, most may be marketed as a stainless steel cleaner, however DO NOT use an aerosol spray type of stainless steel polish that is oil based and clear. If you spray some and it feels greasy, it WILL NOT WORK on aluminum for your purpose. Do a small section at a time (about 3 square feet). Apply some cleaner with a rag, then buff (you can use an automotive polisher) until the shine is restored. Once the entire trailer is done, protect the work you have invested with a high quality paste wax. At least two coats should be applied, buffing the wax between each coat.